While it may still seem like a weird, futuristic idea, the fact of the matter is that self-driving cars probably aren’t as far away from being in widespread use as many Americans might think. That, in turn, could end up having a huge impact on the ways in which these types of automated vehicles affect companies peripherally related to the auto industry, including insurance companies. As a consequence, it might be wise for policy providers and insurance agents to do as much research as possible to find out how much this kind of thing could change the ways in which they conduct their everyday business.
Automated cars could have a potentially huge effect on the auto insurance industry, according to a recent report from the RAND Corporation. That’s because if drivers aren’t personally operating a vehicle when there’s a crash, they would then have limited or even no personal liability for it. At that point, it may fall on the insurer to deal with that liability instead, and that’s only in a simple case. Things could easily get more complex when dealing with such a situation.
So what happens next?
If consumers don’t have personal liability in the event of an accident, it’s likely that insurance premiums could fall significantly in the coming years, the report said. Further, because these vehicles are far less likely to crash than those which are user-operated, that could be a drop from a much lower baseline than what is in the market today. Instead of a driver’s personal accident history, all an insurer might have to go on when setting a premium in this new future is the make and model of the car itself. There may also be an increase in insurers having to offer no-fault coverage to drivers, though they are typically loath to do so these days.
Of course, this reality isn’t exactly right over the horizon, so insurance agents will have more than a little time to prepare for the eventualities that might come with automated driving becoming an issue. However, even having one owner who has such a car as a client could have a major impact, so the sooner they can get themselves educated, the better off they might be. Likewise, helping those owners who might be interested in such vehicles a few years down the line caught up on how this might affect their policies could go a long way toward building greater customer satisfaction.