Constituent advocacy is the cornerstone of our political process. Sharing a local perspective with elected officials on issues facing insurers is critical to our ability to champion issues important to the customers we protect. In September 2013, several Allstate employees and agency owners participated in the company’s first-ever Congressional “Fly-In” to talk with lawmakers about issues affecting the insurance industry and consumers. During the sessions, Allstaters discussed issues with their elected officials, including insurance reform, support for modernizing and improving the insurance regulatory system, and federal support for disaster preparedness. These grassroots advocacy efforts will continue in 2014 and beyond as a way to enhance our government relations and public affairs efforts.
In addition to our volunteer and financial support of philanthropic efforts, Allstate works to support our customers and communities through our advocacy work on public policy issues. Here are some of the ways in which we seek to influence public policy for the benefit of our customers and the communities we serve.
Insurance in the United States is regulated at the state level, creating a complex and often fragmented system of state requirements and laws. Under the current state insurance regulatory system, national and regional insurance companies must comply with thousands of different insurance laws and regulations. These differing systems, requirements and interpretations impose enormous costs and inhibit innovation. The end result is often less consumer choice and increased prices. Allstate is committed to building a better insurance regulatory system with more uniformity and consistency for consumers.
Allstate offers a range of innovative products and cutting-edge services, using technology to meet customers’ needs. In some cases, cumbersome and duplicative regulations prevent us from providing these insurance options to our customers. We support legislation that would allow consumers to have greater choice in purchasing the insurance coverage that meets their needs—for instance, enabling electronic delivery of insurance documents. We also support efforts to make regulations more uniform to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Protecting customers from fraud and abuse in the insurance system is at the center of Allstate’s public policy mission. From working to improve various states’ no-fault auto insurance systems to combating abuse in the legal system, we’re on the front lines, fighting for our customers each and every day.
One way we do this is by protecting people from fraudulent contractors who prey on unsuspecting homeowners. This tactic often occurs after a major storm, when customers need to have their roofs repaired or replaced. While most roofing contractors are honest and competent, these storms can also attract less-reputable roofing contractors who perform subpar work and take advantage of customers. Over the past three years, Allstate has worked in 17 states to strengthen laws that protect consumers from fraudulent roofing contractors. We actively seek solutions that range from stricter licensing laws to stronger penalties for fraud.
Through board membership, Allstate’s senior leadership team actively participates in many of the industry groups we support, contributing our knowledge and expertise to the issues that affect our company and our customers. We are active in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Institute for Business and Home Safety, the Institute for Legal Reform, and many others.
Looking ahead, we believe that connectivity will be a key trend driving our industry. Already, connected home technologies allow customers to monitor remotely the safety and security of their residences. We believe we will soon see widespread use of mobile applications that tell consumers when their water pipes are leaking or their furnace has switched off, or whether they remembered to lock their doors and windows. At Allstate, we have already tested this type of technology with a small group of employees, and we expect that it will become an important tool for managing home-related risks in the future.
Connected car technologies are even more exciting. Today, auto manufacturers are beginning to build collision-avoidance technologies like collision warnings, automatic braking, lane departure warning and prevention, adaptive headlights and blind-spot detection into new vehicles. Developing technologies like the Google driverless car will take vehicle automation even further. In 2013, California, Nevada, Florida and Michigan changed their laws to permit licensing on a test basis for the Google car. We expect other states will follow as this technology is refined.
We believe these technologies will affect nearly every aspect of automobile manufacturing and auto insurance. For instance, if driverless car features cut meaningfully into the number of accidents, auto manufacturers may be able to use lighter, more fuel-efficient materials to construct their vehicles.
Driverless cars may also change the nature of liability, shifting the blame for accidents from drivers to car manufacturers. We are working closely with industry groups and academics to understand these changes and navigate this ever-evolving environment.
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