Car Insurance, Hackers, and On-Board Computers

GM recently announced it was hiring several “white hat” hackers to determine system vulnerabilities on their vehicles. These hackers will work closely with GM on their “Bug Bounty” to attempt to penetrate the vehicles computers systems to find out if owner’s data can be stolen and cars can be hacked or taken control while someone is driving.

This reminded me of the Jeep that a couple of Wired magazine writers demonstrated with a 2014 Jeep Cherokee. I wrote a post on this after the event was made public (see which explored the issues facing auto makers, legislators, and insurance executives as computer systems become more prevalent in vehicles.

The good news is more automakers are waking up to the issue that vehicles with on-board computer systems are vulnerable and can be compromised in a couple of key ways including:

  • The vehicle’s owner’s personal data can be stolen including where and when the drive, routes, etc.
  • Security systems could be bypassed and the vehicle stolen
  • A hacker could interfere with how the vehicle operates in a manner like the Jeep

GM is obviously concerned with these areas and attempting to plug the holes in the vehicles’ systems. We can only hope the other automakers are taking similar steps as computers take over more control of vehicles in each passing year including suspension and handling, braking, lighting, lane departure, parking, and more.

Legislation is needed but I doubt it will prevent someone from exploring what they can do with a car. I also believe insurers need to do more to understand these vulnerabilities and prepare for them.

Adjusters are not systems people and I see the need for a different type of claim adjuster who’s capable of navigating a vehicle’s systems to determine what happened and why. They will need to determine whether the vehicle’s systems were compromised or if the human driving the car simply made a mistake. That difference could determine if the accident was at fault, not at fault, or a product failure of the manufacturer. What do you think? Share your thoughts and suggestions with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

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