Mr. R-o-b-o-t-o
May 30, 2018


High tech took center stage in Washington, DC, as Congress heard testimony from industry representatives on disruptive technologies and their effect on insurance, safety, and risk management.



The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing this week on the impact of autonomous vehicles (AVs) on the future of insurance. The testimony follows the Senate's American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act (AV START Act). The subcommittee heard testimony from insurance industry representatives who discussed how price and provisions of insurance might change as autonomous vehicles become more prevalent. Witnesses detailed how insurance policies, underwriting standards, and the development of actuarial risk models may change during the period in which both human drivers and autonomous vehicles share the road and how those elements would change in an environment when only autonomous vehicles are on the road.



Over in the House Energy & Commerce Committee, the Digital Subcommittee heard testimony on a bipartisan bill called the State of Modern Application, Research and Trends (SMART) IoT Act. The measure would charge the Commerce Department with studying IoT lending an eye towards tech adoption, but at the same time, protecting the security of the nation's networks. The committee acknowledged that IoT has the potential to have an economic impact of up to $11.1 trillion dollars by 2025. The committee noted that annual revenues for IoT hardware and software vendors could exceed $470 billion by 2020. The SMART IoT bill remains in discussion and has not yet been put to a vote, although committee members agreed the hearing was a "first step" toward formalizing the federal government's relationship with IoT.


The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on drones this week and called upon the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to improve its drone risk management. The GAO found that, of the five key principles in the FAA's policy on drones, the agency has defined appropriate roles and responsibilities for safety risk management and described the aviation system under consideration. But, the agency has only partially followed the other three principles: analyzing and assessing safety risks; implementing controls to mitigate the risks; and monitoring the effectiveness of the controls and adjusting them as needed. We'll keep pace as more and more drones are headed for the skies.


Return to Work


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced $20 million in grants to help Americans who are injured or ill remain in or return to the workforce. The grants are intended to identify new, replicable strategies to help individuals with a work-related disability stay on the job. The grants represent the first phase of funding for Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN) Demonstration Projects. The DOL is looking for proposals that coordinate employment, health care, state and local workforce development agencies, and the insurance industry. The DOL anticipates awarding up to eight grants of approximately $2.5 million each to be spent over an 18-month period for planning and start-up activities, including the launch of a small pilot demonstration.



The Secretary of Labor is looking for innovative ways to help injured workers. The agency will accept grant applications through July 23, 2018, and will host a prospective applicant webinar for further information. The date and access information for the webinar will be posted on DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy website in short order. Good luck to all applicants. 


Making Our Way Around the Country


The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), an international association of highway patrol officers, will hold its annual International Roadcheck June 5-7. This initiative will focus on hours-of-service compliance and the implementation of the U.S. DOT's electronic logging device mandate. Inspectors will perform full Level I inspections on most rigs checked during the inspection blitz. CVSA estimates that 15 trucks and buses will be inspected every minute across North America during the 72-hour event.



California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced this week the approval of a new products liability and product recall insurance program for commercial cannabis sold in the Golden State. The coverage would be available for businesses holding licenses for cultivation, manufacturing, retail, and distribution. This approval follows Commissioner Jones' concerted effort to develop insurance products for the emerging legal cannabis industry in California. There's green in them thar hills.



The Illinois House of Representatives held debate this week on an amendment to Senate Bill 904, which relates to fees and electronic claims within the Workers' Compensation Act. The measure would require employers and insurers to pay interest to providers at the rate of 2% per month for services rendered on and after the effective date of this amendatory Act if the bill is not paid promptly. The amendment would authorize providers to bring an action in circuit court to enforce the payment and would require the Director of Insurance to adopt rules to impose penalties upon employers and insurers that fail to comply with the electronic claims process



This week, The Way was named one of the industry's best blogs by independent judges and readers at Congratulations to each of the other teams named to this year's list. We are humbled by this recognition and grateful for your support and readership. Thank you for this distinction - we'll keep bringing you the critical governmental affairs affecting the risk and insurance industry every week.


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