Automation is taking over more of the driving experience. We already have driver-assist devices connected to the Internet that can navigate and provide parking assistance, monitor for blind spots, and warn us about forward collisions and lane departures. Current and developing technology will create cars that offer even more autonomous functions, culminating in the fully autonomous vehicle–the “driverless” car.
But although today’s technology is making the driving experience safer—the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that auto safety technology in late-model cars has reduced fatalities by more than a third over three years—it’s still unclear what the impact of autonomous vehicles will have on insurance.
When traditional risk factors such as driving record and driver age are rendered obsolete, some observers fear traditional auto insurance will follow suit. After all, why should an autonomous vehicle driver buy personal liability coverage when any accidents involving the vehicle would be the result of manufacturer negligence?
A more pressing risk factor involves how vulnerable onboard computer systems could be to hacking. In a world where criminals and crazies are hacking into everything for fun and profit, computerized cars will be a (literally) moving target. That’s why auto insurance companies need to add auto manufacturers and researchers to their ecosystem of experts, so everyone involved in auto safety are on the same page and understand what’s involved as vehicle autonomy continues to evolve.