How Will Driverless Cars Impact the Auto Insurance Industry?

How Will Driverless Cars Impact the Auto Insurance Industry?

Driverless cars sound like a possibility for the far distant future, but they're almost here. This poses questions for the insurance industry. You're used to thinking about the risk of drivers, but what happens when cars have no drivers? How will the insurance industry and insurance jobs change as driverless cars become a reality? 

Are Driverless Cars Really Coming? 

While today's cars still have drivers, they have many components of the future's driverless cars. For example, according to the Insurance Information Institute, "many of today’s high-end cars and some mid-priced ones already have options, such as blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warnings, and lane-departure warnings." These high-tech options assist drivers with tasks that they might forget about or judgments that might be too difficult or quick for the human eye, reflexes, and brain. While the switch to driverless cars may seem sudden, it's been happening gradually, with safety improvements that help existing drivers become safer than they would have been in the past.

How Driverless Cars Change the Insurance Landscape 

The insurance industry thrives on data. Right now, there is data on how current technological advancements in the auto industry impact safety, but there is no data on future changes. That data will emerge as driverless cars become a reality. You'll see how those changes impact safety. The industry will need to adjust to those new risks and realities. Right now, those risks are not clear, and as they begin to become so, there will be a struggle to keep apace as insurers try to accurately assess the risks and costs of driverless vehicle insurance. The Canadian Insurance Institute notes that insurers will need to answer a number of questions about automated vehicle insurance, including: 
 

  • Whether vehicles will have the ability to show whether the autonomous technologies were working when an accident occurred and whether insurers can use this information.

  • The role of the automaker in covering insurance costs.

  • How costs will be shared if the driver and automated systems combine to cause a crash.

How Insurance Jobs Could Change Due to Driverless Cars 

If a car has no driver input, then the car does not depend on the driver's judgment to make decisions about safety. That means that there could be changes to the reasons behind auto insurance lawsuits. Instead of being about a driver's record, consumers could sue the manufacturer for a mechanical or decision-making problem that brought about an accident. The area of product liability insurance will need to contend with these questions.

There are also questions about the human role in managing a driverless car. Driver training programs and insurance companies alike will need to consider how drivers become trained to manage a driverless car and how to work with the car in an emergency. 

According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a $3.9 billion commitment to the safe automation of motor vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that there will be 3.5 million partially autonomous vehicles by 2025. Driverless cars are coming, and they will profoundly change the auto industry. Do you want to keep up with the latest in industry developments?

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