Posted on March 9, 2017
Autonomous Cars and Your Auto Insurance
Have you ever wondered what would happen on the streets and highways in Brampton and Mississauga if autonomous cars were the norm? How do you feel about an expressway filled with self-driving cars? Still a little too Jetsons to believe? What if we told you that the number of crashes would actually be reduced by the increased presence of self-driving cars on the road? High adoption rates of autonomous cars would mean 90% fewer accidents in the USA, for example. More and more, it seems as though cars with autonomous tech are becoming safer than those 100% controlled by I’m-only-human drivers. Think about it: your self-driving car isn’t trying to wrangle bickering kids in the back seat, or text and drive at the same time, or eat a burger and fries while adjusting the radio. Nope. It’s fully focused on the task at hand: driving.
If your car’s performance safety score is greatly improved by this form of technology, and if that scoring gets better with each passing year, should you really be paying big bucks for automobile insurance? The car manufacturers at Tesla don’t think you should. Let’s not focus on the one fatal 2016 Tesla Model S crash right this minute. Crash rates for their cars with the Autopilot function installed in them have dropped by an astounding 40%. Logic would suggest that the risk premiums we pay to our auto insurers ought to go down if the risk of collision also declines. Industry observers say that possibility is going to hit the auto insurance business hard in about 25 years, shrinking it by 40%. About 80% of auto insurance claim costs relate to collisions. It will become harder and harder for insurers to justify high rates to car owners who can point to enhanced safety stats.
Who should be liable if an accident involving a self-driven car occurs? The driver, whose involvement in the driving process wasn’t total, or the manufacturer, who provided the tech designed to reduce of even eliminate human errors? In years past, Volvo has stated that it would be fully liable for any crash involving one of its self-driving vehicles. And Tesla ultimately won the court case that tried to place full blame on the Autopilot function that failed to apply the brakes when one of its vehicles crashed into a truck. Because there are five levels of autonomy with autonomous vehicles, and because current cars on the road haven’t yet reached Level 4 or 5, wherein no human intervention is required to operate the vehicle, the liability question hasn’t been fully explored. Eventually, lawsuits will help shape and give direction to the question of auto insurance premiums with regard to self-driven cars. How about it? Would you be more willing to become a “backseat” driver if it meant cheaper insurance rates in Brampton and Mississauga? We can dream, right?