Autonomous ships could offer significant growth potential for the London market, according to the findings of a survey conducted by the International Underwriting Association (IUA).

Indeed, 25 percent of IUA members who responded to the survey stated they are considering launching a product in this field, said Daniel Fletcher, Technology Practice manager at Chubb Europe and chairman of the association’s Developing Technology Monitoring Group (DTMG), in comments about the survey. (The IUA Survey on Developing Technologies can be downloaded from the association’s website).

The survey posed a series of questions on three key technologies: unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, autonomous vehicles and autonomous vessels, said the IUA, explaining that the survey sought to assess market expectations and concerns surrounding future coverage for each transportation method.

“Insurance companies are embracing new technologies and developing broad, wide-reaching cover for a range of different risks. The expansion of such products generally mirrors the rate of development for the technologies themselves,” said Fletcher.

“Unmanned aerial vehicles are currently the most widely used, and this is reflected in the number of IUA members who stated in our survey that they are offering products in this area and, indeed, the geographical spread of cover,” he said.

Respondents expressed concern about a lack of associated infrastructures for autonomous modes of transport, as well as cost, technological capability, public perception and regulation. In each case these barriers to adoption were thought to apply most significantly to driverless cars, the survey found.

However, more than 80 percent of survey respondents expect all three types of vehicle—driverless ships, aviation drones and driverless cars—to be in widespread use within 10 years.

Fletcher said the growing interest in the work of the IUA’s DTMG is indicative of companies’ increased focus on these underwriting opportunities. “The group has been well supported by members and considers issues relevant to a wide range of business classes including aviation, cyber, casualty, liability, marine and professional lines,” he continued.

This first IUA survey on developing technology, published by the IUA’s DTMG, was completed by 27 individuals, representing 16 IUA member companies, one legal firm and one insurance market association. The DTMG was established two years ago to examine how new technologies would affect various classes of insurance business.

The IUA represents international and wholesale insurance and reinsurance companies operating in or through London.

Source: International Underwriting Association

*This story ran previously in our sister publication Insurance Journal.