Self-Driving Cars and the Insurance Implications

Self-Driving Cars and the Insurance Implications

Self-Driving Cars and the Insurance Implications

The sci-fi dreams of yester-year are no longer a thing of the past—we are on the verge of sharing the road with driverless vehicles. Uber is starting to release autonomous vehicles in major cities across the country and major car manufacturers including BMW and GM are in talk of test-driving their self-driving cars within the year. Tesla, one noteworthy brand touting its vehicle’s self-driving capabilities, was recently in the news when its self-driven vehicle was involved in a fatal accident. The car’s computer failed to apply the brakes after being cut off by a truck on the freeway. Tesla has come under scrutiny about the safety of these vehicles; in addition to the typical self-driving car features, Tesla’s vehicles can go beyond regulated speed limits.

There are different levels of autonomous vehicles, ranging from simply automatically applying the emergency brake to prevent an accident to completely self-operated, taking to the driver out of the equation.

With this exciting jump into the future, the auto-insurance industry has recently found itself at odds attempting to determine how to insure autonomous vehicles. We now must take into consideration safety precautions and driver conditions that did not previously exist. Who is at fault if there is an incident involving an autonomous vehicle: the owner? the car company? the computer? Here are a few insurance implications regarding the future of self-driving cars:

  1. Self-driving cars will become commonplace within the next decade as 10 million autonomous vehicles are expected to be on the road by 2020. Experts believe that auto-insurance rates will drop, as autonomous vehicles become the norm. Currently, 90 percent of car accidents occur due to driver error. Auto-insurance premiums rake in roughly $200 billion a year and, lucky for you, computers don’t make as many mistakes as humans do.
  2. This, however, brings us to another point—if robots rarely make mistakes, who assumes the responsibility should an accident occur? If crash liability is transferred from the driver to the vehicle, which, in the case of self-driving cars is making most safety decisions, then car manufacturers may start offering their own insurance policies.
  3. While self-driving vehicles have yet to hit the mainstream, it will not be long before insurance companies will need to get creative with their coverage plans, accounting both self-driving and human-driven vehicles.

Regardless of whether you are an early adopter and plan to purchase a self-driving car in the next few years or one who waits for trends to become mainstream, you will want to work with an insurance company that has withstood the test of time.  A third-generation independent insurance agency, Penny Insurance has been looking out for the needs of our clients for over 85 years. We value protecting our customers and their families, and plan to continue to insure generations to come no matter what your vehicle needs are. Regardless of the ever-changing auto-insurance landscape, Penny Insurance is here for you regardless who, or what, is behind the wheel.

Best Valentine’s Day Gift: Life Insurance

Best Valentine’s Day Gift: Life Insurance

Best Valentine’s Day Gift: Life Insurance

You’ve bought chocolates and roses, made reservations at the best restaurant in town but did you remember the life insurance? While not the most romantic gesture, life insurance may be the best gift you can give your loved ones.

Your loved ones mean everything to you and you are committed to providing and caring for them – now and in the future. Life insurance is one of many ways you can do that by providing a means for you to continue to provide for your loved ones in the event something happens to you.

When you purchase a life insurance policy, you contract with an insurance company to make payments and, in exchange for those payments, the insurance company promises to pay a lump-sum to a person you choose (your beneficiary) upon your death.

Payments may be used for:

  • Funeral costs
  • Bills or future living expenses
  • Outstanding debt, such as medical bills or a home mortgage
  • Your child’s education or college expenses
  • Your spouse’s retirement plans

Since looking out for the best interest of those we love is the ultimate love gesture, we thought we would take this Valentine’s Day to answer a few of your questions about life insurance.

  1. What are the different types of life insurance policies?
    There are basically two types of life insurance policies: term life and permanent. Term life insurance provides coverage for a specific “term”, or time period. If you die during the coverage period, then your beneficiary will receive payment from the insurance company. At the end of the term, the policy expires, or you have the option of renewing for another term. Terms range from 1 to 30 years. Term life insurance is an affordable option and can be ideal for young families.

Permanent life insurance options include whole and universal life insurance policies. Whole life policies will protect you and your loved ones throughout your lifetime. Every payment you make helps to grow a cash reserve that can be used for emergencies and other major expenses when you need it. With whole life insurance, your payout is guaranteed as long as your premiums are paid. Similar to whole life insurance, universal life policies guarantee your payout as long as the premiums are paid. However, with universal life insurance you can adjust your premium payments throughout the life of the policy. In addition to these types, there are also final expense and children’s policies as well as annuities.

  1. Is life insurance expensive?
    One of the common misconceptions is that life insurance is expensive. While the cost varies dramatically, there are very affordable options for as little as $12/month. The best approach is to work with a qualified insurance agent who can assess your unique situation and determine the best policy for you.
  2. How much life insurance do I need?
    A general rule of thumb is 8-10 times your salary; however, the amount is very dependent on your unique circumstance. Are you married? How large is your family? What are your financial obligations? What are your retirement plans? While there are many tools available to help you determine how much coverage you need, the best tool is a life insurance professional, well-versed in the policies and options available. At Penny Insurance Agency, we not only have a team of experts to help address your questions but, as an independent agency, we also have the freedom to shop around on your behalf to find the very best policy and coverage for you.

Making sure you buy life insurance that is right for you is important. At Penny Insurance, we have experts available to help talk you through the different policy options available and choose the one that is best for you and your loved ones.

Plus, we recognize that life does not stand still. Your and your family’s needs are constantly changing. You want to insure your life insurance keeps pace with your changing lifestyle. When you purchase a policy through Penny Insurance, we conduct regular assessments of your current policies to make sure they continue to meet your needs.

Important decisions require thoughtful consideration. Our job is to make sure that you have the information you need to make the best decision.

Will Penny Accepted into Wharton’s CAPI Program

Will Penny Accepted into Wharton’s CAPI Program

Our very own Will Penny was recently accepted into a Wharton program for insurance in 2017. Created by Wharton and Chubb in 2014, the Certified Advisor of Personal Insurance (CAPI) program helps agents and brokers serve as trusted advisors to high net-worth clients. The CAPI curriculum consists of six modules related to this mindset, custom insurance solutions, building client relationships, selling, excelling in the high net-worth arena, and sustaining excellence.

This program is a 12 months study, where participants must demonstrate mastery of the curriculum and understanding of high net-worth customers, including their financial affairs, family management and philanthropic activities. According to Ann Marie Champ, Executive Vice President, Sales and Distribution Leader of Chubb Personal Risk Services, “By being more insightful about all the financial dynamics affecting high net-worth families, CAPI agents are in a better position to help customers manage their most significant risk exposures.”

Will will begin the CAPI program in early 2017. We are excited to see how this program enables him to further serve our community in the best way possible. Congratulations, Will!

26th Annual “Tree of Lights” for Four Seasons Compassion for Life

26th Annual “Tree of Lights” for Four Seasons Compassion for Life

Penny Insurance was so pleased to be a supporting sponsor of Four Seasons Compassion for Life’s community celebration, the 26th Annual “Tree of Lights!” This event allowed community members to remember loved ones by lighting hundreds of luminaries on Main Street in downtown Hendersonville. Proceeds benefitted Four Seasons hospice patients who do not have insurance for the care they need.
Kitchen/Fire Safety

Kitchen/Fire Safety

Thanksgiving bring many familiar sights and sounds: families gathered around the fire place, a kitchen packed with chefs and bakers, and a full table of tasty treats. While the temperature outside may be dropping, things are heating up indoors – both in the kitchen and in living areas. Penny Insurance wants you to stay warm and well-fed, but we’re aware that this is also a season where accidents happen! Check out these helpful tips to keep you safe:


In the home:

  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, be sure to have your chimney swept prior to use this fall and winter! You can contact a licensed chimney sweep for inspection and maintenance.
  • If you have a gas log fireplace, test your carbon monoxide detectors prior to use. This system should be in place before you turn on your fireplace this season!
  • Test your smoke detectors. Fires can happen not only in the kitchen, but also as a result of candles, overheating combustible materials, or even because of electronics and appliances. Smoke detectors will not only save your loved ones, but also give you plenty of time to contact the fire department to save your home and valuables.


In the kitchen:

  • Clean up spills and messes immediately! Doing a little extra on the front-end will decrease accidents (or slips) later on in the day.
  • Keep loose fabrics, like dishtowels, mitts or even clothing, away from open flames. While you’re cooking at the stove, be aware of where you are standing or placing items.
  • Set a timer – we all get distracted when cooking. Save your dinner, as well as your home, by setting a time to remind you what’s on the stove or in the oven.
  • Have a watcher and helper in the kitchen. When you need to step away, a helper can keep an eye on the pots and pans on the stove and in the oven. While too many cooks in the kitchen can be a bad thing, you definitely can’t do it alone!
  • Test you smoke detectors thoroughly in kitchen spaces. It’s a simple task, but an important one to check off regularly in a room with high fire potential.


We love cool weather, and Penny Insurance wants you to have a warm and safe holidays! We want to make sure you’re enjoying this time of year from the comfort of your own home. Happy Thanksgiving!