Major insurers form alliance to pave way for driverless cars
The Automated Driving Insurer Group – which includes Aviva, Covea, Zurich and Direct Line – is being led by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Thatcham Research and will work with the Government on shaping the future of automated vehicle use in the UK.
Key issues already identified include:
- Who could be held liable after an accident – drivers, manufacturers, system developers, car dealers, car maintenance firms or a combination?
- How to cope with vehicles at different levels of automation
- How data from individual vehicles will be recorded and used to improve safety and clarify liability
- Whether there need to be changes to existing road traffic laws and what those changes might be
James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the ABI, said: “Truly driverless cars have the potential to dramatically reduce deaths and injuries on the roads and could revolutionise what we think of as public transport. The role of motor insurance in such a future will be very different to what it is today, but insurance will be part of the picture.”
Commenting on the announcement, Jonathan Hewett, head of strategy at Octo Telematics – the company behind the Insure the Box and Admiral’s ‘black box’ car insurance policies – said: “While the advent of autonomous cars could revolutionise transportation offering a safer, more fuel-efficient and comfortable experience, it could also revolutionise the motor insurance industry.
“Some might argue that if autonomous cars become “crashless”, we may not need motor insurance. But this viewpoint is overstated. A January 2015 study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute said it is not clear whether a self-driving vehicle would ever perform more safely than an experienced driver. More likely, autonomous cars will significantly reduce the number of accidents that occur, meaning less claims but requiring more sophisticated assessment. As autonomous cars are driven by navigational data provided by a series of sensors, any accident will require software and hardware analysis to understand why it occurred and analogous to “black box” flight recorders in aviation. Therefore telematics-based insurance policies will be critical in the technology driven future.”