It may sound like science fiction, but driverless cars are closer to becoming a reality than you might think. If certain auto manufacturers’ predictions are correct, self-driving cars will be available to all American drivers within the next 25 years. However, self-driving cars present a unique problem for auto insurers. How do you insure autonomous cars when accident responsibility shifts from the driver to the vehicle itself?
The Promise of Self-Driving Cars
Autonomous driving features like crash avoidance technology and lane departure warnings are already available in many cars and trucks. Over the next six years, all new cars will come equipped with automatic breaking systems. According to Business Insider, thirty different companies including Apple, Google, Uber, and BMW are currently developing self-driving cars.
With autonomous vehicles, manufacturers hope to eliminate the potential for human error, which is the cause of 90 percent of all car accidents. Drunk driving and distracted driving would no longer be an issue in self-driving cars. Auto insurer KPMG predicts that car crashes will decrease by 80 percent over the next 25 years with the introduction of autonomous safety features. Volvo pledges to make new cars accident-proof by year 2020.
The Challenge for Auto Insurers
What does the prospect of an accident-free America mean for auto insurers? Without auto accidents, policies go down. Accident rates have not dropped in recent years, so insurers are not feeling the pinch of decreased rates. As self-driving cars roll out over the next few decades, the insurance industry needs to adjust accordingly or face collapse.
Insurance agencies have to address exactly who is liable for self-driving car accidents when the vehicle is making all of the safety decisions. How to write policies for self-driving cars sharing the road with traditional vehicles is also unchartered territory. If auto manufacturers opt to insure themselves, that would be another hit to the $200 billion auto insurance industry. One insurer is trying to stay ahead of the game. A British company recently introduced the first policy for driverless cars, covering various autonomous features and potential technological failures.
Looking Ahead for the Insurance Industry
Some auto industry analysts agree that insurers can stay viable even with self-driving cars on the road. After all, cars will likely still be vandalized or damaged in other ways that necessitate insurance. Others are a bit more skeptical about the American public’s willingness to surrender to self-driving cars. Some do not see drivers handing over the wheel so willingly, and predicting the roll-out of autonomous cars will not be as easy as manufacturers hope. As with any form of technology, something can always go wrong. Satellite failures or hackers can interfere with a self-driving car’s operation and systems can fail. Even with the most advanced self-driving cars, an accident-free America may always be difficult to achieve.
Delaware County Product Liability Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Fight for Injured Victims
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to an auto defect, Delaware County product liability lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help. We hold careless drivers accountable. Schedule a free case consultation by calling 215-569-8488 or by contacting us online. Our firm has offices in Haddonfield, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware to serve you.