We may now be just years away from the release of self-driving cars. Currently, many automobile manufacturers, including Toyota, Ford, and General Motors, is working on some form of the self-driving car. Car manufacturers and technology enthusiasts are adamant that these cutting edge cars will be available sooner than most think.
What remains unclear is how self-driving car insurance may work. It might be vastly different from the way car insurance currently works.
Could self-driving cars reduce auto accidents?
Some insurers believe that the obvious safety advantages of self-driving cars will gravely impact the profits of insurance companies. Dr. Larry Burns, an engineering professor at the University of Michigan and a former vice president of research and development at GM, states that driverless cars could eliminate more than 90 percent of car accident injuries and deaths.
Google has been developing a fully self-driving car. These vehicles are completely self-driving, meaning the driver would not be controlling the car at all.
Sebastian Thrun, the lead developer of Google’s new self-driving car, predicts that the new technology can:
- cut traffic accidents by 90 percent;
- reduce wasted commute time and energy by 90 percent; and
- reduce the number of cars by 90 percent.
As insurance rates are tied to the risk of accidents, this should theoretically lead to a reduction in auto insurance rates. But the question becomes, who is actually at fault for those accidents?
Who is liable for an accident involving a self-driving car?
Insurance claims involving auto accidents usually involve no-fault or liability coverage on one of the driver’s policies. But if a driver is in a self-driving car, could he or she really be liable for the accident? After all, the “driver” wasn’t actually driving.
Insurance analysts have theorized that if the driver is not actually driving the car at all, any crash that happens will result in a product liability claim. The auto makers could sell master polices in the event of product liability claims.
Answer is Still Uncertain
A prediction raised in the Forbes series was that insurance companies, which currently make billions of dollars in individual auto premiums, would see an increase in profits as self-driving cars hit the road. This initial boom would be the result of fewer accidents and far less payments to customers, though the article predicts they may later see about “90 percent of premiums disappear.”
But until we realize the reality of self-driving cars, insurance for these vehicles and liability for accidents is a still uncertain. “We really don’t know how insurance companies are going to handle driverless cars at this point,” said Laura Adams of InsuranceQuotes.com. Among the issues Adams says insurers are grappling with: “Is the burden on the driver or is it more on the manufacturer of the vehicle?”
Legal Help from Cordisco & Saile after Car Accident
In the meantime, if you believe you may have an automobile accident or injury claim in Trenton, NJ for an accident that another driver caused, your attorney can look over the facts of your case and determine the value of your claim. Call Cordisco & Saile LLC at 215-642-2335 or contact us online to set up a consultation.