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Insuring Autonomous Farm Vehicles
Indiana farmer Kyler Laird is proof that farmers, at their core, are problem solvers. “I can’t afford to hire someone to help me farm, but I can make it very inexpensively,” he says.
Yet, keeping up with innovators – like Laird – as they incorporate more technology into their operations can be a challenge for insurers.
“All insurance companies need to be aware of the various places that technology is being used to ensure we are covering our customers adequately and that we aren’t taking on unintended risk,” says Jennifer Snyder, a commercial lines product management senior analyst with American Family Insurance.
That’s why it’s critical for insurers to stay connected with farmers to understand how and when they plan to use technology. It also helps insurers determine whether or not it makes sense to offer coverage, especially if only a handful of people embrace a technology.
“It is important for us to recognize when it is a trend and not a fad,” she says. “Autonomous farm vehicles are going to happen, so we don’t want to be behind the curve when they do. If farmers are clamoring for these vehicles, then we better have our coverage in place early.”
Insurers must also stay connected with the companies building out this technology so they understand its capabilities and when it will be available to the public for use. American Family also needs to determine what that policy will encompass.
“It isn’t just about covering the machine itself or the liability it presents if it goes haywire and crosses a populated road,” says Snyder. “It’s also about whether or not we want to cover the seed/crop if the autonomous vehicle malfunctions in the field.”