Recently, I’ve seen quite a number of articles that address self-driving cars and what they may mean for the insurance industry. The idea of a car driving itself has been around for quite some time and can be found in any number of sci-fi films. Now, though, we have moved on from the science fiction and see that this will soon be a reality as the technology needed has advanced rapidly. There are some hurdles to get over such as mapping all of the nation’s roads in the way that works with the current technology, updating that information as it changes, and cost of the equipment in vehicles but these are details that will be figured out. How this change will affect insurance and other industries is an interesting question.
The belief is that not only will fully automated cars make life easier as you are chauffeured by your vehicle, freeing up time to do anything other than focus on the road, it will also make driving safer. Since computers don’t get distracted, the claim is that fully automated cars will cause fewer accidents. With fewer accidents, the cost of insurance should go down, and in some peoples’ minds, this technology will make car insurance irrelevant. What should be quickly pointed out is first that technology never works perfectly, particularly when it is brand new technology. It should be expected that there will be bugs and accidents will occur as manufacturers continue to make the technology in their vehicles better and better.
Beyond the technological issues, the road won’t be filled with only automated vehicles. At first, you’ll see mostly vehicles that are driven as they are today with some early adopters using fully automated vehicles. The expectation is that as time goes on, more and more of these vehicles will be on the road but I’d be surprised if we saw widespread use within the next 50 years. Some other challenges are public acceptance of cars driving themselves, regulatory and legal ramifications that need to be sorted through, the possibility of cyber-crime liability causing accidents by hacking into the car’s computer system and figuring out who is responsible for an accident when they do occur. If the vehicle drives itself, is it the responsibility of the manufacturer, the owner, the company programming the software or any of the other long list of people involved in the project?
I think the realization of cars driving themselves makes this a very exciting time and I can’t wait to see them myself. There are challenges to work through and benefits to be shown, but I think it’s safe to say that you shouldn’t cancel your Scottsdale, AZ auto insurance policy just yet. It may just come in handy. Feel free to continue this discussion in the comments below and if you are interested in exploring the world of insurance on your current vehicles, please give us a call or submit your information through the Smart Move contact us section.