The Bumpy Road to Automobile Autonomy - by Nick Beecroft, Lloyd's

Autonomous vehicles present a unique opportunity for the insurance industry. While the technology for such vehicles is already under development, several obstacles stand in the way before our streets are full of autonomous cars. Adequate regulation, dependable safety standards and hesitation from the public to hand over responsibility to a machine are just a few. Insurers can play an important role in enabling the safe adoption of this technology by setting safety and risk management standards when creating new insurance solutions.

The idea of transferring risk from an automobile driver to a machine is fraught with complexities. Just as human error can cause a motor vehicle accident, a vehicle can also fail. Even with sophisticated technology, it is still likely that something will go wrong. It will be critical for insurers to determine where the liability rests in the event of an accident caused by this unique type of vehicle.

Insurers will have to consider the same key principles that make up any liability policy. For example, they must establish whether the accident resulted from a faulty or defective product, third-party involvement, or owner misuse or manipulation, and whether the accident could have realistically been foreseen or prevented.

Posted on March 2, 2015 .