How will the arrival of driverless cars impact you?

Driverless cars are on their way with new innovations continually emerging and fully autonomous functions already available in a number of new vehicles. An autonomous car is defined as a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input.

Google X has developed a range of autonomous cars as part of its project to develop technology for mainly electric cars. Nissan announced at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2016 that the Nissan Qashqai will become the first car with piloted drive available in Europe.

Driverless technology at first glance has a number of benefits such as a reduction in the number of collisions, increased fuel efficiency and better traffic management. However, as with all new technologies, there are wider implications. With fully autonomous vehicles, the primary risk of collision shifts from that of human error to one of manufacture or the programming of its driverless software. This poses huge questions about how the liability will be apportioned.

How is liable in the event of an accident?
What are the implications of this to the suitability of motor insurance products?
How will legislation need to be changed to cater for autonomous vehicles?

Manufacturers, the Government and the insurers are already working together to address such future implications. The UK Government is providing £10 million to be split between four areas of the country, Greenwich, Milton Keynes, Coventry and Bristol, to trial driverless cars in the real world.

Driverless vehicles are now no longer objects of science fiction but a distinct reality as technologies such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) are now commonplace. Autonomous safety features such as AEB now form part of the Association of British Insurers’ categorisation of vehicles, which in turn feeds into insurer price models. Nick Kitchen, Head of Casualty & Motor at Zurich said “Where the technology is effectively reducing collisions, this will be reflected in their individual claims experience and in turn their premiums.”

If you have any further questions about how driverless technology will affect your insurance, please call your Account Manager.