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When technology exceeds regulation, with Ryan Stein

Self-driving cars are just one example of technology equalization regulation. Ryan Stein, from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, explains why insurance companies should be more proactive with new technologies.


  • An investigation by the Insurance Agency in Canada (IBC) found that most people perceive self-driving cars to be safer than conventional cars.
  • Insurance companies should play an active role in engaging governments and regulators as new technologies, such as self-driving cars, become more widespread.
  • As regulators, insurers and governments are looking to update laws to meet new technologies and trends, their guiding principle should be to ensure that injured people have access to prompt and fair compensation.

Self-driving cars and what happens when regulation strikes technology, with Ryan Stein

Welcome back to Accenture Insurance Influencers podcast where we ask some of the industry's foremost thinkers about how the future of insurance looks. How can artificial intelligence (AI), innovation and anti-fraud technology change the industry? Our first guest is Ryan Stein, CEO of Vehicle Insurance and Innovation at the Insurance Agency in Canada (IBC).

So far in this series, Ryan has talked about how self-driving cars pose a challenge to today's car insurance rules and why IBC recommends a single insurance to cover both conventional and automated vehicles. In this section, we look at the adoption of automated vehicles and general principles that insurers, governments, and regulators are trying to keep pace with new technologies.

The following transcripts have been edited in length and clarity.

If you look at the research, automated vehicles are much safer than human drivers. At the same time, many people are uncomfortable with the idea of ​​robots behind the wheel. So how does the assumption of automated vehicles look like in the future?

An IBC survey looked at the total population and most said they were not interested in driving an automated vehicle. But if you looked at people aged 18 to 34, most of them were. And most people perceive that these vehicles are safer.

So while you hear that people are hesitant about using this technology, I think the potential for automated vehicles is huge. They will eventually become a majority of new car sales. I do not know how many tens of years will come, but without doubt, automated vehicles will come and they will be on us on our roads. Therefore, it is so important to ensure that the insurance laws are updated so that the insurance companies can offer the type of coverage that is suitable for these vehicles.

And we believe that the insurance policy that will provide coverage regardless of whether the human or technology caused the collision – is the way to go. And that it is the most appropriate way to achieve what we think is an important goal that ensures that injured people have access to fair and rapid compensation.

I imagine it is particularly challenging in North America where there is a patchwork of provincial or state laws that regulate auto insurance initially, and automated vehicles in particular. To what extent is a national strategy important in terms of legislation and regulation in this area?

If you can get all provinces to update their insurance laws at the same time, it would be great. That would mean that all Canadians, when using or buying automated vehicles, will be able to get adequate insurance.

Although it would be good if the whole thing could happen at once, then it is just not how the insurance tends to work. It is usually a province that makes a change, as if what happened to the sharing economy. Ontario and Alberta did it first and updated their laws to accommodate races. And for automated vehicles it can be the same. If a couple of provinces are ready to update their laws to reflect vehicle automation, they should move. And then when the others are ready, they can do the same.

To what extent should insurance companies play a more proactive role? Should they govern this general policy and inform the regulation and have a seat at that table when these laws are taken?

The insurance industry has been quite proactive. It was IBC's member company that said, "We need to look at this issue." And that led to the development of the one-policy idea and the various features that supported it, the data spread and all that led to the paper we released last year.

The industry has presented the ideas in this document to the government's regulatory groups across the country and has made it clear to the various governments that we want to work with them on this. And the response from the provinces we have met has been quite positive.

That's good. IBC is focused on the Canadian market, but Canada is not the only country to address the issue of automated vehicles. So what general principles should regulators, insurers and governments keep in mind as they look to update laws to accommodate automated vehicles?

I think that number one and that is what we really focused on, it is important to make sure that injured persons have access to quick and fair compensation. That's why car insurance is regulated.

When we worked with our members and looked at how automated vehicles would work in existing car insurance legislation and regulation, we saw a risk that people could not get fair and rapid compensation – … if people get stuck in costly and long-lasting product liability disputes.

When we identified it important that people have access to fair and prompt compensation, we asked how do we update the insurance laws to make it happen? We looked at models that would work in a situation where conventional vehicles and automated vehicles will share the road, so you need the insurance solution to work for both.

And that's the only insurance policy allowed. It ensures that people have access to fair and prompt remuneration, and it can co-exist with existing car insurance for conventional vehicles.

Automated vehicles and autonomous vehicles are an example of a technology where development extends over the regulatory environment. What can insurers do in these cases to make sure they are on top of things, while not investing in something that can only be hype and not reality?

From a public perspective, it is about engaging the government, engaging regulators and talking about these issues. Talk about the importance of studying insurance laws and regulations and making sure they are appropriate. At IBC we try to make it happen, but companies can also do it individually.

We have spent a lot of time talking about the simple insurance policy and the data part. But what is important is that it is less about the two solutions and more about governments and regulators looking at this issue and examining the insurance laws to make sure they are appropriate in a world where vehicles are automated.

We believe that the solution we have put on the table is a really good one. But before we even get there, we want these discussions in detail with the governments who look at the insurance laws, and if a better solution comes out of it, we are all ears about it. But we really want the discussion where we have the insurance industry, the regional governments and the regulators look at the insurance laws and make sure they are appropriate in an automated vehicle world.

Great. And probably a good policy to have when looking at other innovations that it also enters into our society. And people can download your paper from the site, is it right?

They can. It is available on our website.

Perfect. And thank you so much for having the time to talk to us. This was a really interesting conversation.


In this section of the Accenture Insurance Influenza podcast, we talked about:

  • IBC survey findings that generally perceive people Self-driving cars are safer than conventional cars.
  • Why is it important for the insurers to proactively engage governments and regulators on issues such as self-driving cars, to ensure that the insurance policy is equipped to deal with real risk.
  • Guiding principles for updating laws for new technologies and trends, namely that injured parties must have access to fair and rapid compensation.

For more guidance on self-driving cars:

It breaks up our interviews with Ryan Stein. If you had this series, check out our next guest. Lex Sokolin is a futuristic and fintech entrepreneur, and he talked to us about how technology and digital increase the status quo in financial services. We also talked about artificial intelligence (AI) – how it differs from automation, how it can transform the insurance value chain and why AI bias is so awful.

What to do now:

Contact us if you want to be a guest at Insurance Influencers podcast.

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