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Why will the autonomous vehicle change our auto insurance contracts?

Level 2 on recent models, autonomous driving is set to evolve in the coming years. In Europe, Mercedes should be the first manufacturer to offer level 3 autonomous driving (on 6 levels), called Drive Pilot, but which will initially be limited to traffic jams on the motorway. Still in the experimental phase, this autonomous driving does not receive all praise, especially after the various problems that have arisen on the other side of the Atlantic, in the United States, where this technology is democratizing much more quickly than in Europe. .

But another question also remains, and it concerns our auto insurance contracts. How will they evolve? With the uncertainty of this technology and the fact that humans will no longer be the sole masters of the vehicle, prices could well increase, and with them the various problems in terms of liability in the event of an accident.

The autonomous car, really safer?

Supposedly designed to reduce the number of accidents on the roads, the autonomous vehicle is not unanimously accepted by the various organizations in the automotive sector. Moreover, between manufacturers and insurers, the conflict has only just begun. On the one hand, manufacturers such as Tesla, which claims that the autonomous vehicle can avoid more than 70% of current accidents committed by humans, while a study published by an American organization bringing together several car insurers reveals that only a third of accidents could be avoided thanks to self-driving cars. So who to believe?

In reality, the self-driving car is only at the testing stage and while it could prevent some accidents due to human errors at the wheel, it can also cause significant ones. when the system becomes unresponsive, as was already the case in the United States. And unlike a “human-human” accident where after investigation the person responsible can be designated, it could well become more complicated to know which technology of such manufacturer is at fault. Above all, who will have to pay the damages? The customer and owner of the vehicle, or the manufacturer behind the autonomous vehicle? In all, it is a real headache for insurers.

Towards a revolution in car insurance

It is estimated that 30% of vehicles will be partially or fully autonomous by 2035, which will inevitably lead to a complete change in auto insurance. Aware of the stakes and seeking to anticipate the evolutions of the automobile, the insurance companies will have to act quickly because ten years in this sector does not represent much…

If the question of responsibility remains the main concern in the event of a claim, it will become increasingly difficult to determine who is responsible in a self-driving car. Against whom to turn? The manufacturer, the designer, the public authorities or the owner of the vehicle? Moreover, what will happen in the event of an accident between a 100% autonomous vehicle and a “classic” vehicle… you will have understood that many unanswered questions arise but it will nevertheless be necessary to act quickly to find solutions, which would already exist for some.

On the basis of “no-fault liability”

Obviously, insurers have taken a position on this issue and are working on the basis of “no-fault liability”. This would mean that in the event of an accident, the victim will be compensated and the insurers of the two parties would agree among themselves to determine the responsibilities of each.

Another solution is to entrust the insurance coverage to the vehicle manufacturers directly. But there too, it is difficult to imagine insurers leaving their work to the brands. Even before crossing them on the roads, autonomous cars are already a real headache, like the entire automotive sector for some time now, in full transition, or rather revolution.

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