In the last few years, several technological innovations have changed how we drive our vehicles. Vehicles now have features like built-in cameras, warnings if you get too close to other vehicles, there are even cars that can parallel park or completely drive themselves.
While these innovations tend to make driving safer, what happens if the technology goes wrong? Instead of a collision being the driver’s fault, it may be the result of a mechanical malfunction.
What happens when a self-driving car gets a speeding ticket, or is in an accident? The human who is “co-piloting” may not be to blame. Current insurance regulations do not really cover this situation and will have to be reexamined before these cars hit the road. There are real questions about how vigilant the human co-pilot is supposed to be. Still to be determined are whether the human can do things like text message, read a book, or even watch TV.
Until these issues are ironed out, insurance companies are very cautious about how these situations will be handled. Typical insurance policies only provide coverage if the driver does something wrong (is negligent). If the human co-pilot is not doing the driving, who is responsible for any injuries?
As more and more of the driving is done by the vehicle itself, insurance companies will have to offer new products to adapt to this changing world. Insurers are already starting to think about the future, and considering selling new insurance coverage – or working with the car manufacturers so insurance comes along with the vehicle when you purchase it. Insurance companies are even considering whether some of these advanced technologies should result in lower rates because of the decreased risk.
Experts expect self-driving cars to be available to the public as early as 2019. While traffic and insurance laws won’t change overnight, it is likely to drastically change over the coming years with advances in technology.