Robot cars are here, and now they come with insurance for humans. That’s thanks to a pre-Christmas deal reached between Waymo, Google’s self-driving technology spinoff, and Trov, an on-demand “insuretech” startup.
Trov will provide trip coverage for passengers of Waymo’s commercial ride-hailing service, to launch in Phoenix in early 2018. The trip insurance is underwritten by $45 million from Munich Re AG, and covers things like lost or damaged property, trip interruption, and medical expenses. Fees are included in the cost of the ride, so customers will not need to sign a separate agreement.
“This partnership highlights the convergence of the future of transportation with the future of insurance,” said Scott Walchek, founder and CEO of Trov. “We are genuinely excited to be partnering with Waymo in developing innovations for insuring people and property in the evolution of personal mobility.”
One step closer to reality
The agreement answers one of the lingering logistical questions about autonomous ride-hailing services: Who’s responsible when a driverless car gets into a fender bender…or worse? The answer is that passengers are to be covered by an “on-demand” insurance policy that allows for temporary coverage.
That’s a model that’s proving disruptive to giants in the insurance business. And it’s not just autonomous vehicles doing it: Tesla has spent the year bundling insurance with car sales in Asia, and automakers are beginning to offer vehicle subscription plansthat include insurance as a part of an all-inclusive monthly fee. It’s a trend that shows how changes to auto insurance will not be limited to ride-hailing services, but will soon go the way of mobility and customization.
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