The adoption of autonomous driving technology will lead to fewer accidents, but the collisions that do occur will likely result in costlier repairs and raise difficult questions relating to driver and manufacturer liability, victim compensation and data collection, The Travelers Institute argues in a new whitepaper.
The general risks that come with vehicle ownership, autonomous or not, will also remain, including risks related to weather and theft.
The whitepaper outlines the insurer's perspective and recommendations on key public policy issues including roadway safety that are linked to fast-emerging autonomous vehicle technology.
Travelers' believes that self-driving vehicles will ultimately benefit society by reducing the number of accidents, injuries, and lost lives, notes the report. Data gathered in the report suggests that autonomous vehicles are potentially safer than human-operated vehicles.
For example, according to study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Google's nearly 60 driverless vehicles, which covered more than two million miles, have been involved in fewer than two dozen collisions. None of them were caused by a failure of the autonomous system, according to the whitepaper.
In fact, the insurance industry may eventually see collision rates decline sharply as adoption rises. In a series of 2017 reports on the likely impact of autonomous vehicles on the auto insurance industry, KPMG estimated a 90% reduction in accident frequency by 2050.
While there is potential for improved safety, recent high-profile collisions are a reminder of how much more there is to learn and test regarding self-driving vehicles, according to Travelers.
The white paper also offers the following recommendations to facilitate an effective auto insurance system:
- Develop a model state law relating to autonomous vehicle insurance that builds on the current state-based regulatory and oversight structure.
- Require vehicle owners — including personal, ride-sharing and company-owned vehicles — to purchase and maintain adequate insurance.
- Provide for sufficient coverage to account for the more expensive technology used in autonomous vehicles.
- Establish strong cybersecurity requirements for autonomous vehicles, including appropriate data-sharing protocols.
- Utilize insurers' extensive consumer communication programs to help educate customers and the public on autonomous vehicle safety.
- Ensure representation of the insurance industry in policymaking and stakeholder forums.
For more information, read the full whitepaper here.