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Pricing Car Insurance Based on Occupations

The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) has recently requested information from some insurers about how they relate a customer’s education and occupation to driving, risk, and auto insurance pricing. Actuaries may use information about occupations to price data, and people with jobs that are associated with higher risk may pay more for their insurance. The DFS is considering whether to prohibit the use of occupation and education in pricing auto insurance. Some states, like Massachusetts, already prohibit the use of those factors to set insurance premiums, and other states limit...
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Autonomous Vehicles on the Road in Michigan

The Michigan legislature recently passed a series of laws that would allow companies to test autonomous vehicles on the roads in Michigan. The legislation now awaits the governor’s signature. As previously noted, the new laws would allow the public to buy and use fully driverless cars when they become available. One of the laws allows a vehicle to be operated without a human driver and provides that an automated system would be considered the vehicle’s operator under the traffic...
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Insurance Coverage for Self-Driving Cars in Japan

A Japanese insurance company will begin offering coverage for accidents involving self-driving vehicles next year. Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance will provide coverage for vehicles that have automated systems controlling acceleration, steering, or braking, as well as for vehicles that are autonomous enough to require driver input only in emergencies. (The coverage will not extend to fully autonomous vehicles.) The company will pay for injuries caused even if the driver is not at fault, whether because the automated systems caused the accident or because causation is unclear. It is...
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Facebook and Car Insurance

A car insurer that planned to use Facebook data to set car insurance premiums has had to change its plans after Facebook clarified that such use would violate its privacy guidelines. Admiral Insurance had planned to offer a “first car quote” app to young motorists in the UK. It would analyze Facebook “likes” and posts to determine the driver’s level of risk. The insurer could then offer discounts to less risky customers; the insurer stated that the data would not lead to more expensive premium quotes for drivers considered more risky. However, Facebook’s policy for app developers...
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NHTSA Releases Vehicle Cyber-Security Guidelines.

On October 24, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued guidelines for automakers and other tech companies developing technology for self-driving cars. The guidelines, part of a continuing effort to prevent cyber-attacks on vehicles with automated technology, suggest layered protections  that would prevent unsafe movements by a vehicle even if hackers gain access. Mark Rosekind, administrator of NHTSA, said that no single approach could be permanently put in place to prevent hacking in a technological environment that is always changing and called on all involved in...
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Autonomous Vehicles Tested on UK Streets

For the first time, autonomous vehicles were tested on streets in the UK as of Tuesday, October 11. More specifically, the electric car was tested at 5 mph around the town of Milton Keynes. The test are part of broader efforts to get autonomous vehicles on the road by 2020. The British government has been encouraging of this new technology, hoping to build a global industry. In advance of the trial, organizers in Milton Keynes mapped the town and conducted safety planning with the local...
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Surveys Disagree on American Appetites for Driverless Vehicles

A survey of more than 2,000 people by the Consumer Technology Association found that approximately 70% of those surveyed were ready to try a driverless vehicle. However, another survey by the University of Michigan led to drastically different results: in that survey, fewer than 16% of those surveyed were open to completely autonomous vehicles. A third survey conducted by Kelley Blue Book found that 51% of people want to retain full control of their vehicles–even if it wasn’t as safe. A final survey from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, involving more than 40...
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California Issues Permits for Driverless Vehicle Testing to Valeo and Wheego

The California Department of Motor Vehicles recently issued driverless vehicle testing permits to Valeo North America and Wheego Electric Cars Inc. Among those in the industry, the issuance of testing permits is a sign as to which companies are making the most progress. The permits for Valeo and Wheego allow programs for one vehicle operated by up to four people. Valeo is an auto parts manufacturer and the North American unit of a French auto supplier, Valeo SA. Wheego is a privately held design company working on designing and selling electric...
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Travels With Charley, Post Script

Hit ’em boys! Well I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again You get nothing for nothing: expect it when You’re backseat driving, and your hands ain’t on the wheel… –  Judas Priest – “Heading Out To The Highway” Who is Charley? Rather what is Charley?  Charley would be my new traveling companion, a Tesla Model S 90D.  And why the name Charley one might ask?  As I was about to embark on a cross country trip, I was reminded of one of my favorite books by John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley.  Since the Tesla is a machine with some human-like...
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Germany Proposes Laws for Driverless Cars

Germany’s Transport Minister recently proposed a law to govern the performance of autonomous vehicles. The proposed law would require that a car always opt for property damage over personal injury; that it not distinguish between humans based on categories such as age or race; and that a car’s manufacturer be liable for any collision if a person does not have hands on the steering wheel.
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A New Way to Buy Car Insurance?

A car insurance startup has recently acquired an insurance company with licenses in 50 states. Metromile, which has received funding from investors such as Mark Cuban, charges for car insurance based on miles driven. (A hardware “dongle” tracks how many miles the subscriber drives.) The company also charges a monthly fee that is set based on factors such as location and years driving. Although the company began offering insurance in late 2012, it will now be able to handle underwriting and claims management...
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NHTSA Releases Driverless Car Guidelines

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its highly anticipated guidelines on the regulation of autonomous vehicles.  The Federal Automated Vehicles Policy signals NHTSA’s continued support of driverless technology development by promising manufacturers expedited responses to requests for legal interpretations and exemptions.  The Policy also confirms that NHTSA will leave the regulation of licensure, operation and insurance of vehicles to states, despite calls from some automakers for the federal government’s greater involvement.  A voluntary 15-point...
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Congressional Republicans Urge Auto Safety Regulators To Step Up Cybersecurity Efforts

In a recent letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, four Republican members of Congress outlined their concerns regarding vehicle hacking, in which a hacker could take control of a vehicle’s steering or brakes. The letter was responding in part to research published in Wired magazine, where the researchers were able to hack into the car’s on-board diagnostics port and cause it to drive erratically. The lawmakers expressed concern over a growing risk to driver safety. Although the NHTSA did not respond immediately to the letter, the agency is expected to...
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Pittsburgh To Be Testing Ground for Uber’s Driverless Cars

As part of what has been called “green light governing,” a hands-off approach to regulating businesses that gives companies plenty of free rein to experiment, Pittsburgh has become a key testing ground for driverless cars. Uber is a key example: Uber is anticipated to roll out a fleet of driverless cars in Pittsburgh any day now. Any Uber customer in Pittsburgh will be able to hail a driverless vehicle–though there will be a “human monitor” behind the wheel. The city has taken few steps to prepare for the experiment, but Uber’s driverless vehicles have...
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