Driverless Cars Could Have Major Impact on Insurance Premiums

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  • Technology has leapt forward in a number of ways over the last several years, and not the least of these seems to be significantly improved functions when it comes to the ways in which people drive. However, one major jump announced in the last few weeks alone could completely change the game, and, in turn, have a major impact on how the auto insurance works. While widespread use of this technology is likely still quite a ways off, it might be wise for insurance agents to keep a close eye on developments in this regard.

    Google recently announced that it had invented a car which can drive itself, and many experts in the auto insurance industry are already thinking about the implications such a machine could have on what people pay for their coverage, and why, according to a report from MarketWatch. The good news for owners is that using one of these vehicles would likely serve to reduce the premiums consumers pay, potentially by a large amount. The reason for this is relatively simple, from many experts’ point of view: Consumers couldn’t be held completely responsible for claims resulting from issues when they weren’t in control of a vehicle.

    “It’s possible that more of the liability will shift to the manufacturer,” says Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute. “Increasingly, over time, the driver is going to become more and more passive.”

    Why have insurance at all?
    Of course, if consumers aren’t driving for the most part when using these new cars, then some wonder why they would need insurance at all, the report said. Experts answer that in general, such coverage would be necessary in the event that something bad happened to the car while it was parked, such as a tree falling onto it. Moreover, it seems unlikely that this would actually make vehicle ownership more affordable, because while insurance premiums would likely tumble, the cost of the self-driving cars themselves would likely exceed those for standard ones today.

    Insurance agents may need to keep tabs on the ways in which these vehicles are rolled out in the coming years, because they would likely have a big impact not only on claims, but also how other drivers might react to their availability, which is likely to grow significantly as time goes on, and regular use on roads across the country.