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MEPs call for mandatory robotics insurance scheme

The European Parliament yesterday called for EU-wide liability laws to cover the fast-evolving field of robotics and artificial intelligence, particularly for self-driving cars.

17 FEB 2017 | CHRIS SEEKINGS
New rules suggested for artificial intelligence ©Shutterstock
New rules suggested for artificial intelligence ©Shutterstock

It argued that this is needed to fully exploit the economic potential of the technology, and to guarantee a standard level of safety and security, noting that such standards are already being planned in several countries outside the EU.

However there are concerns that a blanket scheme might not be suitable for the area of robotics, potentially resulting in higher costs for insurers and subsequent premiums for consumers, as well as less innovation from producers.

Insurance Europe head of personal insurance, Nicolas Jeanmart, said: “Compulsory insurance only works in specific cases and when certain market pre-conditions are met, such as the availability of sufficient claims data, a high level of standardisation and plentiful insurance capacity to manage risks and cover claims. This is not the case for robotics.

“In addition, the different technological innovations referred to in the report present different risks and raise different liability issues. Because of these differences, a single regulatory approach to all such emerging technologies would not work.

“Instead of boosting the insurance market, a compulsory insurance scheme would likely lead to a less dynamic insurance market and high premiums.

“This is because an obligation to insure new risks, without sufficient information and data, would oblige insurers to factor into their premiums the uncertainty around future claims, which could in turn deter producers of innovative, emerging technologies from placing their products on the market.”

The calls for a mandatory scheme came after the EU Parliament’s committee on legal affairs adopted a report, suggesting how to deal with the rise in robotics, from MEP Mady Delvaux, last month.

However, several clauses regarding how a basic income for citizens may be required to deal with the effect that robotics and artificial intelligence might have on the jobs market were removed.

Delvaux said: “Although I am pleased that the plenary adopted my report on robotics, I am also disappointed that the right-wing coalition of ALDE, EPP and ECR refused to take account of possible negative consequences on the job market.

“They rejected an open-minded and forward-looking debate and thus disregarded the concerns of our citizens.”