Trov and Waymo hope an insurance policy will help passengers feel more comfortable in Trov’s driverless vehicles.On-demand insurance provider Trov has partnered with Waymo, the autonomous vehicle development unit of Google parent Alphabet, Inc., to insure passengers who hail any of Waymo’s driverless cars. Riders don’t need to purchase a separate insurance policy, since the cost of the coverage will be included in the price of the trip.
An Expanding Business
The partnership with Waymo is Trov’s first foray into what it calls “shared mobility,” as well as its first association with a major corporate entity. In its initial version, Trov’s app allowed users to catalog valuable such as cars and jewelry in a digital lockbox. From there, Trov developed a platform with which consumers can instantly insure computers, sports equipment, cameras, and smartphones for a specified period of time.
Trov’s on-demand insurance service is now available in the U. K. and Australia, but it has yet to receive the necessary licenses from all state regulators in the U. S. After securing approvals from 31 states, the company hopes to begin doing business in the country by the first half of next year.
Since its launch in 2013, Trov has raised $97 million venture financing, including $45 million from a Series D funding round led by Munich Re/HSB Ventures. The global reinsurer Munich Re will underwrite Trov’s ride-sharing policies.
Peace of Mind for Riders
Although autonomous vehicles are expected to become more common within the next decade, many consumers have expressed concerns about being driven without a human behind the wheel. In the spring, Gartner, Inc. polled more than 1,500 consumers in the U.S. and Germany asking whether they’d ride in an autonomous car: 55% said they would not, while 71% were willing to ride in a partially autonomous car. Respondents identified technology failures and security lapses as significant reasons for their reluctance.
Trov CEO Scott Walchek said in a public statement that having an insurance policy that covers lost items, trip interruptions, or any expenses caused by a crash can give passengers the peace of mind they need. Waymo's Director of Operations Shaun Stewart added that Trov’s on-demand platform is “ideal for ride-sharing because it's customized for every trip.”
A Changing Industry
The union between Trov and Waymo reflects the continued upheavals initiated in the automotive and insurance industries by the rise of autonomous vehicles. As manufacturers rush to incorporate the innovative technologies that power driverless cars into their vehicles, insurers are particularly struggling to assign fault in accidents involving an autonomous vehicle.
Auto insurers are also bracing for reduced revenues from premiums as more driverless vehicles hit the road. Since autonomous cars largely defy the long-established practice of underwriting car insurance based on a driver’s age, driving history, and other demographic data, one study estimates that driverless vehicles could reduce auto premiums paid by U.S. car owners by 40% by 2050.
Meanwhile, federal and state regulators have already begun to craft or review legislation regarding driverless vehicles. California, for example, recently rejected a proposed regulation that would have permitted manufacturers of driverless cars to avoid liability for a crash including their vehicles if the car was maintained below industry specifications. California also proposed forcing manufacturers to hold $5 million in liability insurance for users earlier this year.
Trov’s policies cover individuals only for the length of their journey. Nevertheless, the policies highlight the need for new insurance solutions that meet the needs of consumers who want to use ride-sharing services not steered by a live driver.