Autonomous cars on the move
Google reported Monday that it is partly to blame for an accident involving one of its autonomous vehicles hitting a municipal bus in California. This is the first accident that Google has taken blame for in the past six years; there have been 17 minor accidents during that time, however none have held Google at fault.
Driverless cars are fast becoming the trend in the next layer of technology. The Tesla Model S is one of those cars that is fast becoming a known name. The Tesla allows for autonomous driving while the actual driver is in the car to observe. The driver is still responsible and in control, putting the layer of risk back on the driver and not the company, unlike the situation with the Google car.
The thought is that accidents will decrease causing premiums to be lowered; which could throw a wrench in the world of auto insurance. Safety measures in cars will increase, and the number of drivers on the road will decrease, which in turn will foster fewer claims. What Google and other autonomous car companies should be concerned with in terms of insurance are the higher costs of crashes and transferring of personal liability over to product liability. More than that, there needs to be increased coverage for manufactures if there are technical defects that arise. Technology is going to play a large part in the autonomous car world and will also lead into concerns of potential cyber-attacks on driverless cars. Will an autonomous car need a cyber-policy? These could become considerations when companies are making their decisions on coverage options.
Companies and their insurance brokers should to be asking different questions when it comes to insurance and driverless cars. Is the car/company at fault or is the driver at fault? That question will be asked more and more as we see the driverless cars take the road in the future. Having the correct insurance, whether it be product, cyber, personal or auto, and background knowledge of this diverse market is essential to minimizing your risk on the road.
About the Author
Spencer Mahoney is a Client Executive at Gallagher, working on structuring and negotiating complicated insurance placement for clients in the Property and Casualty area. Mr. Mahoney specializes in dealing with energy and technology clients.