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Driverless Cars Insurance: Who is responsible in the event of a crash?

January 30, 2018

With the increased hype about driverless cars comes an interesting discussion about the insurance implications. Debate has been rife regarding whether driverless vehicles need to be insured differently and who would be responsible for paying out if the car was in control.

The UK Government has weighed in with new proposals that outline that the insurance protection must cover times both when the car is being traditionally driven and also when it is in driverless mode. The measures, are among those outlined in The Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill.

The proposals are designed to ensure that, in the event of a collision, victims are still able to claim from insurance companies even if the vehicle is in charge. It clarifies the point that a single insurance product must cover both instances; the driver and the car being in control, making it simple for car owners as they do not have to claim via the manufacturer, everything remains with the insurance company.

Owners do need to be careful, they will be liable and not able to claim on the insurance if they either, forget or decide not to install an update that the policy requires them to, or if they make unauthorised changes to the car’s software.

Feedback from the insurance industry regarding the proposals has, in general, been positive; it highlights the Government’s commitment to being at the forefront of the autonomous vehicle movement. The measures are also straight-forward and simple to interrupt, which is exactly what the industry had been demanding.

Insurers can potentially recover costs from the maker of the vehicle, depending on the specifics of the incident, rather than this resting with the car owner. The only real risk to the insurance industry is from self-driving cars as a whole; the fear being that if they are safer, collisions and accidents will decrease, in turn driving down premiums.

With other topics in the bill centring around availability and specification of electric power charging points, the message is clear that the UK will not be left behind with a changing car industry. Although it may still be some time before self-driving cars are a commercial reality, these measures ensure that the UK is ready and able to lead the way in this modern transport revolution.

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