California isn’t the only state where self-driving cars are taking over the roads. Last year Uber started live trials of its autonomous car-sharing service in Pittsburgh, and several states are busy enacting rules to govern the rise of these cars. In addition, drivers have used Tesla’s autopilot mode to log more than 3 billion miles. As such, the rise of self-driving cars is undeniable. However, it does raise questions about the future of car insurance. So, if you have a car with autopilot or are interested in getting a self-driving car then here is what you need to know about insuring your self-driving car.
Who’s to Blame
One of the biggest challenges of insuring self-driving cars is figuring out who will be to blame when there is an accident. It doesn’t matter if the accident is between two, self-driving cars or a self-driving car and a traditional vehicle, auto insurance is based on determining fault and can get trick when there is no driver.
If you have a self-driving car or a car with an autopilot function, then it makes sense to discuss these features with your insurer to see how they will cover certain situations. This way you will know if you need to make any changes to your insurance coverage.
However, who is to blame when one, or both, of the cars in the accident is a self-driving car? Marc Mayerson, a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Law, recently noted that there are few legal mechanisms in place to tackle this question.
In fact, some have commented that it would be near impossible for a self-driving cars to be at fault. This creates problems in the real world. Not only is it highly unlikely that self-driving cars will never be at fault. But does the car’s owner or the passenger in the “driver’s seat” take responsibility for the accident, or does the liability fall on the car maker?
This is an important question and the answer to it could upend auto insurance as we know it. After all, liability insurance is the largest segment of the typical American’s auto insurance bill.
Shifting Insurance to Auto Makers
One potential model is one which shifts liability coverage from the car’s owner to its manufacturer. However, this does not mean that the costs will simply go away as car makers will look to pass on the cost of insurance to its customers. This would make car insurance could even less transparent than it is today.
Another result of a new insurance model would be the need to rethink how we purchase cars. No longer will we just look for the model we like, instead we will be forced to factor in monthly costs such as insurance.
Even if liability requirements are reduced due to the presence of self-driving cars on the roads, there would still be a need for some form of insurance. In addition, the owners of these cars might be required take on higher levels of coverage for passengers as a hedge against self-driving car accidents.
Driving in a Self-Driving World
While we are still a few years away, it is likely that there will come a point in the near future where human piloted vehicles represent the minority of vehicles on the road. If you are a driver, then you will have to think about the insurance consequences.
In fact, you might see your insurance rates skyrocket – especially if self-driving cars prove to be fundamentally safer than today’s cars. Granted, insurance is a regulated market and the company’s providing these policies need to seek approval from state regulators before significantly increasing rates. However, it might become inevitable if older cars become a risk on public roads.
The More Things Change
As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. This will probably be true with driverless cars. Insurance companies will continue to exist and in the case of auto insurance, it will probably continue to be mandated by the state.
Another aspect of insurance which is likely to remain is the ability to compare quotes. While the nature of these quotes might change if automakers are paying, consumers have come to depend on this information.
Insurance for self-driving cars is rapidly evolving. While state legislatures and insurance companies are scrambling to determine how the market of the future will function, you must be covered today. So, ask questions and get the answers you need.
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