Self-Driving Cars and the Insurance Industry

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Improving the lives of drivers throughout time – in the pages and screens of science fiction that is – has been the dream of self-driving cars. Now, decades later, the dream is shaping up quite nicely as many automakers attempt to make it become a reality.

In the last decade, significant waves have been made in the technology surrounding self-driving cars, so much so that they’re already here. Just not available to the public. Yet! Automakers such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla are among the first to test them on roadways around the U.S.

Making History

Speaking of which, Delphi (an automotive supplier) recently surpassed expectations, when they “drove” a car across 15 states in just nine days time. What’s remarkable about their journey, however, isn’t the fact that they completed it in such a short time but that they did so without a driver.

The car, which did 99 percent of the driving, generously allowed its carbon-based life form to take control of the wheel only when it was time to leave the highway to travel on city streets. After traveling 3,400 miles, beginning on March 22nd, the car safely arrived at a showcase in New York City.

The Future of Self-Driving Cars

The idea of driving a self-driving car is appealing on many levels. Made even more appealing when you consider the fact that 90 percent of all accidents occur due to human errors, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Currently being ironed out by self-driving car developers are several points. The most important of which are whether to stop the car or make it swerve should something or someone get in the car’s path as well as determining the type of impact these cars should anticipate in the event of an accident.

Pretty cool, right? With all that “free” time it’s only normal to think about getting to text, watch movies and get in a few extra ZZZ’s, but this would cause you take your eyes off the road – which as far as developers and the insurance industry are concerned will still remain a BIG no-no.

You will STILL have to pay attention when behind the wheel of self-driving cars as things could still go very wrong. Should an emergency situation present itself, you would need to be prepared to take the wheel immediately! Your safety and that of any passengers depend on you remaining alert.

How This Will Effect the Insurance Industry

Minimum levels of auto insurance coverage are required in nearly every state across the nation. This is not expected to change. Whether you’re driving a traditional vehicle or sitting behind the wheel of self-driving car, you will still bear the responsibility of maintaining certain levels of insurance coverage.

While the Insurance Information Institute , admits that some aspects of insurance will change, this is not currently one of them. They have further stated that insurance rates will be determined based on the same principals currently in place today (i.e. your location, accident history and number of year’s driving).

Questions still remain as to who – or what – would bear responsibility should self-driving cars get into an accident, or while we’re at it, receive a ticket. On one side, is the argument that the car’s developer should be responsible, as they own the algorithm that for all intents and purposes drives the car.

Others argue that the robot driving the car should be held responsible. Insurance companies would have to insure the robot as a separate entity. Then we have the argument for putting all responsibility on the shoulders of the owner, regardless of who – or what – is driving the car.

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