Will Self-Driving Cars Cost Less to Insure?


self-driving-carsIt is safe to assume that when cars are doing the driving, our own liability decreases or goes away, which should mean lower car insurance rates for us. But how will car insurance change? Who will be responsible in the event of crash?


They’re coming. The self-driving cars.

And with them, we’re told we’ll see a major drop-off in the total number of crashes, and presumably the severity of those crashes, as well. So with a steep reduction expected in the number of crashes and the severity of those crashes – can consumers also expect a steep reduction in auto insurance premiums? Let’s examine that question.


Shifting the responsibility.

So if you are merely a passenger in a computer-driven car, can you possibly be at fault should an accident happen? The issue of liability in this situation still needs additional definition, but it is safe to say that the blame for any crashes involving self-driving cars is not likely to fall on the owner or occupant of the vehicle. Rather, blame is more logically assigned to the vehicle manufacturer, the software designers, the map makers, and really anyone involved in creating the self-driving vehicle.

Now, while the owner of the vehicle may be relieved from liability in the event of a crash, the owner may still have to prove that the vehicle was in good working condition and that the vehicle was operating with the proper version of software.

How far will automakers go to reduce their own liability?

If the burden of liability shifts to automakers, how far will they go to minimize the likelihood of being on the hook for damages and injuries? Will self-driving cars include built-in sensors and decision-making logic that flat-out prevent the car from being used if it detects something is not right with a critical component of its engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, tires, headlamps, tail lights or software?

Will we have to press a button in our car to transfer liability to ourselves if we choose to override safety warnings? Imagine driving in severe weather and having your car tell you “If you want to continue your trip, you will need to assume liability from this point on,” because the manufacturer’s software determines that the likelihood of losing traction and crashing exceeds the auto manufacturer’s comfort level with risk. Or, maybe instead of telling you that you need to assume liability to continue your trip, your car will offer you an on-the-spot extra insurance policy to cover you during this period of heightened risk, in the same way that freeway tolls go up or down based on traffic congestion?

Lower rates are likely.

It is safe to assume that by removing ourselves from the question of liability – or simply reducing our liability –that our auto insurance policies will cost less. Perhaps instead of normal liability insurance, we may only need comprehensive coverage to pay for broken glass, vandalism or weather-related damage (hail) that is obviously outside of the control of the auto manufacturers.

But as the day of self-driving cars gets nearer, the way we buy car insurance will certainly change.

In the meantime, if we can help you with car insurance questions and coverages, let’s talk!