Insurers are offering to handle the complications of insuring the first automated cars behind the scenes, meaning consumers should notice hardly any difference to the current system of motor insurance.
Responding to the Department for Transport’s consultation on how to support developing automated vehicle technologies, the joint paper from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and industry body Thatcham Research says:
- Drivers should continue to buy a single motor insurance policyto cover both manual and automated driving
- Insurers should have a new legal right to recovery, allowing them to get costs back from motor manufacturers, software companies or other parties in cases where the vehicle or technology was found to have been at fault.
- Strict rules on what people can and cannot do behind the wheel need to be maintained and drivers will need absolute certainty about when they can safely allow the car to drive autonomously.
There are already cars offering Advanced Driver Assistance Systems such as emergency braking and lane assistance available but these should not be confused with automated vehicles, which can drive themselves under the safest conditions and could be on the roads as early as 2021. Insurers want road users to feel confident that, if these vehicles are involved in an accident, no-one will be treated any differently than if the vehicle was being driven manually.
The ABI argues an alternative option, involving drivers having to arrange a separate product liability policy for the times they are using automated driving modes, would be too complicated and risk leaving road accident victims without enough cover.
The paper also points out that good procedures for collecting and sharing data need to be agreed so people involved in accidents get compensation and help without delay and the UK Government is currently involved in international negotiations related to this at a UN level.