Autonomous cars – questions that car insurance companies will need to ask themselves

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The other week’s budget announcement, Chancellor George Osbourne made a number of announcements that will affect motorists up and down the country. From the freezing of fuel duty to making petrol cheaper for motorists in rural areas, there were plenty of policies of interest.

One policy that possibly went unnoticed was the announcement of a new £100 million investment in autonomous vehicle projects throughout the UK. Because these are vehicles that can drive themselves without human input, there are a number of question raised with regards to insurance.

Who is liable for damage?

When you’re involved in a car accident involving another vehicle, it can be hard for insurance companies to decide who is at fault. This already difficult process would become nigh on impossible with autonomous cars. With no-one driving, there are no driver related factors that come into play such as alcohol intake or carelessness that can be used to establish who is to blame.

What happens if manual driving is required at some point?

Although autonomous driving suggests little to no human input, there are occasions where a driver would need to step in and take the wheel. For example, this could happen in an emergency or if the computer system fails. In some cases, there could be an inexperienced driver who would have to take the wheel; can someone who is supposed to be enjoying a journey in their autonomous vehicle be expected to pay out when something that’s completely out of their control goes wrong?

Is there going to be an increase or decrease in the price of insurance?

Although difficult to predict, there is reasoning on both sides of the argument. With a possible increase in car use due to how easy it will be to use them, this could lead to more accidents and therefore higher premiums. On the other hand, the use of computers rather than humans to drive could mean fewer mistakes are made on the road from human error.

Autonomous driving will become a reality soon enough and insurance is just one of the many points that will need to be discussed.