11 major insurers have formed a group in the UK to discuss the industry response to the onset of autonomous driving and represent the industry.

11 major insurers have formed a group in the UK to discuss the industry response to the onset of autonomous driving and represent the industry. Aviva, Axa, LV, Zurich Direct Line and Admiral are among the 11 insurers.

In Canada, Aviva announced that it will be offering ride-sharing car insurance, starting with the Ontario market. Product highlights:

  • Coverage available for drivers spending up to 20 hours a week participating in ride-sharing
  • Cost for coverage will be calculated by driving record, time spent ride-sharing
  • Inexpensive – it will amount to a fraction of the income drivers earn through ride-sharing
  • Maximum of 8 passengers
  • Driver is licensed a minimum of 6 years
  • No other commercial usage


Meanwhile, Lyft is adopting Waze as its default navigation app in an attempt to give the ride-sharing company’s drivers and passengers an extra advantage…

GM announced a $500 million investment in Lyft, an Uber competitor, and purchased the “remains” of Sidecar, the ride-hailing pioneer that folded at the end of 2015. GM will be bringing on board around 20 employees from the Sidecar team, including co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Jahan Khanna. The intent is to have driverless Lyfts in the future. With all of GM’s focus on new mobility models, maybe the acronym will stand for General Mobility 😉

Meanwhile, Lyft is adopting Waze as its default navigation app in an attempt to give the ride-sharing company’s drivers and passengers an extra advantage. In addition, Lyft announced a partnership that will enable seniors without smartphones to use their service.

A patent application published in January reveals that Facebook is looking to get into the ridesharing business. Recently, Facebook announced a partnership with Uber that would allow users to book a ride from Facebook’s Messenger app.


Edmonton became the first Canadian city to legalize ridesharing services.  In BC, the government is apparently softening its criticism of ride-sharing business Uber, saying it’s only a matter of time before the service launches in the province. Meanwhile, in Québec, a coalition of taxi drivers intends to file an application for a class-action lawsuit against Uber.

Uber’s strategy in Toronto has been different. In this city, UberTaxi obtained a brokerage license while UberX continues to operate “illegally”. Also in Toronto, UberPool has arrived.

According to reports released over the last couple of months, thanks to Uber, taxi license values continue to decline. One report indicates that Toronto cabbies’ license values have dropped from some $360,000 in 2012 to below $100,000.

Uber continues to attract the interest of investors. In the last few weeks, Uber announced that it received almost $2 billion from Chinese investors to expand its business. The company’s Chinese operations are valued at $7 Billion and worldwide, Uber is valued at $70 Billion. Hmmm, that’s a whole lot of zeroes for an app with limited assets.

Uber has also partnered with TransLoc to integrate Uber into commutes with TransLoc Rider. We are inching towards Mobility as a Service. It will be interesting to see how transit and ride sharing companies evolve their relationships.

Oh, and just in case you missed it, a few weeks ago, Uber hit its one-billionth ride.

While most ridesharing offerings have been focused on urban areas, that may be changing. Mercedes-Benz and Via team up to launch a suburban ridesharing service.

And for people with reduced mobility, the Simon Mobile Application, a new application for persons is an application for navigation, orientation and parking designed for persons with reduced mobility. In Madrid, Parma, Lisbon and Reading, it provides access to important accessibility information such as the location of disabled parking spots or the location of elevators and ramps to access subway stations. With Simon Mobile, it is possible to compute walking, driving and transit routes and use step-by-step navigation during a trip. Mobility should be accessible to all, regardless of physical limitations.


Do ridesharing services, like Uber and Lyft, reduce or add to the number of car trips undertaken in major cities?

Transit has been ambivalent about some of the newer mobility options, including ride sharing. While these mobility options have the potential of taking riders away from transit, they also can contribute to an urbanite’s decision to give up vehicle ownership. In the latter case, transit ridership would be helped. The STM, Montreal’s public transit service, is making improvements to lure back some riders who are opting for the convenience of car-sharing services.

In Chicago, a cease-fire is emerging between mass transit and an array of sharing services, a striking change from when public officials searching for solutions to traffic gridlock generally bowed to a simplistic formula advocated by the transit agencies.

Do ridesharing services, like Uber and Lyft, reduce or add to the number of car trips undertaken in major cities? The Natural Resources Defence Council has announced that it will partner with UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) to assess the environmental impact of Uber and Lyft across the US.


Who should pay for a self-driving crash? B

Who should pay for a self-driving crash?  Bastiaan Krosse, who heads the automated driving programme at research institute TNO, said decisions on insurance need to be taken now, before the self-driving car becomes a reality. 

USAA is offering insurance for ridesharing drivers in three more US states.

Japan’s Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance have jointly developed a new insurance product to cover risks involved in demonstration tests of self-driving cars. The new policy will cover possible risks involved in demonstration tests of self-driving cars in a comprehensive manner. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance believe the new product will encourage more companies to demonstrate their technology. Insurance premiums will differ, depending on the number of vehicles used in a demonstration test and the test period. They are expected to be between tens of thousands of yen (hundreds of dollars) and hundreds of thousands of yen per test per year. The two insurers expect to sell policies to automakers, research institutions, parts suppliers, telcos telecommunication firms and software companies. 

Daimler has established its own warranty insurer: Mercedes-Benz Versicherung AG. This move is likely an indication of how Daimler will support its driverless vehicle introductions.


More ridesharing offerings are popping up in cities around the world.

Now available in over 350 cities around the world, Uber is looking to combine ride-sharing and delivery services. UberRush has already launched in three US cities, providing local businesses with same-day delivery of goods. The company is also announcing the launch of UberPool in a number of cities around the world, including London and Paris.

Oh, and in case you weren’t aware, with the latest round of fundraising, Uber is now valued at $62.5 Billion USD!!! On paper, it is worth more than GM (valued at around $55.6 Billion USD).

More ridesharing offerings are popping up in cities around the world. Via, a NY-based app, announced entry into the Chicago market.  The app offers on-demand carpool rides for up to four passengers headed the same direction. A professionally chauffeured SUV will pick customers up and deliver them to their location, just like Uber or Lyft, but it will cost just $5 when the ride is prepaid, or $7 if payment is made at the time of the pickup.

In Paris, a ridesharing service was launched specifically targeting people with disabilities.

But the ridesharing world may be changing quickly with the possibility of an Uber union? In Seattle, determined immigrant drivers, a hard-charging union and an ambitious City Council member have pushed the city close to enacting the groundbreaking legislation establishing collective-bargaining rights for contract employees like Uber drivers.


Uber is increasingly being perceived as a threat by auto manufacturers.

Uber is reportedly eyeing funding that would bring the company’s valuation to $70 billion US.

More news on Uber: the company is apparently interested in competing with couriers in the on-demand delivery space.

In several US cities, Uber is vaporizing the taxi industry. In NYC, for example, “total trips in the first half of 2015 were down 10% to 77 million, compared to same period last year”. Revenues from yellow cab fares have also declined. In month of July alone, there were 100,000 Uber trips in NYC daily, a four-fold increase compared to last summer.  Karhoo, a startup that will be launching in January 2016, has raised $250 million in funding, and will be working with licensed taxi companies to give them a technological leg up in the competition against Uber. Taxi companies are in dire need for assistance: the relative value of taxi medallions has plummeted. In 2013, a NYC taxi medallion was worth an estimated $1.3 million. Today, online listings range from $600,000 to $900,000.

Uber is increasingly being perceived as a threat by auto manufacturers. According to a recently conducted survey, “22% of Uber users aged 18 to 64, who have used the service in the past 6 months, said they were delaying or holding off buying a new car for that very reason”. The survey findings “translate to approximately 3 to 4 million people who may hold off on buying a new car because of Uber”.

Helsinki: setting the pace for the future of mobility

Helsinki appears to have found a sustainable mobility solution that will, for all intents and purposes, eliminate the need for personal vehicle ownership.

Last year, an article in Business Insider identified the 18 most innovative cities in the world. Helsinki was one these cities and was selected for its “super innovative transit system – one that will soon have a real-time marketplace for customers to choose among transport providers and piece together the fastest or cheapest way of getting where they need to go”.

Cities around the world are facing issues of congestion (costing trillions of dollars annually) and challenges related to much-needed efforts to reduce GHG emissions.  According to a recent US study, growth in congestion is “outpacing the nation’s ability to build the roads, bridges, trains and other infrastructure to handle all these people on the move”.

Helsinki_graph2Helsinki appears to have found a sustainable mobility solution that will, for all intents and purposes, eliminate the need for personal vehicle ownership by the city’s residents because it will provide them with attractive, accessible alternatives. The goal? To get there by 2020.

The solution? Mobility as a Service (MaaS). Very simply, this is a mobility distribution model where all of a user’s transportation needs are met using a single interface and managed by a mobility service provider. Access to all modes of mobility (including but not limited to bus, tramway, metro, train, taxi, car sharing, ride sharing, bike sharing) is gained through the use of a personal smart device.

According to one of the architects of Helsinki’s new mobility system, Sampo Hietanen (ITS Finland CEO), the goal is to create sustainable customer centric transportation. The vision of this innovative “Public-Private-People partnership” is that the various modes of transportation blend to the point where boundaries between them are “blurred” or disappear completely.

Clearly, this is a system that is very technology dependent, involving the interaction between user, vehicle and environment. According to Traffic Lab, the project launched by the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications to promote a market in intelligent transport services, in the future, mobility “will be a service provided by companies and facilitated by the authorities”.

The resident-user pays a fee for mobility that reflects his/her usage. Some examples of the mobility packages are provided following.


The cost of using this shared multi-modal mobility will be less expensive than that paid by the average citizen to access such services today. That’s fantastic as there is more disposable income left in users’ pockets.

The project team undertook market research with residents and future users.  One group that was particularly researched was composed of employers offering car benefits, including company cars and parking spots, and the personnel using these company cars and parking facilities. The intent of the research was to determine interest in replacing the current transportation benefits (provided or received) in exchange for mobility credits that would be provided by employers to the accounts of the individual members of the personnel.  The research revealed that a whopping 80% of respondents indicated a willingness to try such an exchange.

What is even more interesting, but not obvious on the surface, is that this is also an economic development initiative. Finland has no automotive industry to protect and lacks domestic sources of fossil energy. The country must import both vehicles and the fuel to power them. This hurts its trade balance and creates little domestic employment.

Suppliers, managers and operators of mobility services, on the other hand, will use locals to provide the services, thereby increasing employment. Further, companies interested in entering the Finnish mobility market to provide some of these services will result in additional investment into the Finnish economy.

The use of electric propulsion will reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The increased utilization of shared multimodal mobility will not only have a positive impact on reducing congestion and GHG emissions but it will lower the number of individually owned passenger vehicles that will be imported.

Congratulations to the architects of this transportation / environmental / economic vision. Congratulations to the government of Finland for having the foresight to undertake a program that exceeded their time in office and for recognizing that what’s good for the environment is also good for the economy.

Photo: Slava2009 /


Insurance companies are smartly investing in businesses that are “connected”.

Intact Financial Corporation recently unveiled rudimentary details of a new deal with Uber that would see the company offer the first auto insurance in Canada tailored at protecting drivers, and by extension passengers, of the ride-sharing service. Will other insurers follow in the same path? Will the products to be offered be similar? Will Intact benefit from a first mover advantage? Will this insurance coverage result in an increase in the price of taking an Uber?

Munich Re America launched a Mobility Domain as part of the company’s overall commitment to understanding and developing innovative solutions for emerging risks, and as an engine for future growth.

Zurich has been appointed insurance associate by CityMobil2, the EU project staging the first cross-European pilots of self-driving vehicles.

Insurance companies are smartly investing in businesses that are “connected”. One such investment was made by USAA in Roost lands, supplier of leading edge next-generation technologies.


Even in the face of negative headlines about sexual assaults, concerns over data privacy, protests from taxi drivers, raids on its offices and outright bans, Uber continues to grow.

Even in the face of negative headlines about sexual assaults, concerns over data privacy, protests from taxi drivers, raids on its offices and outright bans, Uber continues to grow. Recently, Toronto city council asked staff to develop new rules to accommodate Uber within municipal taxi and limousine bylaws.  Since it launched in 2009, Uber has expanded its services dramatically. It’s now available in more than 300 cities in 58 countries. The Wall Street Journal estimates Uber is worth about $50 billion, almost twice its value in 2014. In the Greater Toronto Area alone, Uber says it has 500,000 riders a month and growing. Edmonton is on its way to being the first major Canadian city to regulate ride-sharing. The city is set to vote on a set of proposed regulations, which would see Uber drivers get official city taxi licenses, in November. Kitchener-Waterloo became the first in Ontario to propose a ride-hailing bylaw in August. Under the proposed rules, drivers would be required to have a GPS and a closed-circuit television system installed in their vehicles, and commercial auto insurance policies for a minimum of $2 million. Still, no region has been able strike a balance that leaves all parties satisfied.

As far as Calgary is concerned, the City inches closer to allowing Uber into the high-end cab market with proposed bylaw changes.

As jurisdictions around the world are trying to strike a balance between traditional and new forms of mobility, we are getting a small avant goût of type of conflict and lobbying that shared driverless technology will bring.

Business travel is a $300 billion-a-year industry, and these new services are vying for a bigger portion of the spending pie. Only 12% of Americans have used Uber or Lyft while traveling on business but that may be changing. Uber, with 160,000 active drivers providing ride-share services in more than 150 North American cities, is growing in acceptance. /