With the recent emergence of self-driving cars on the market—both used by ride-sharing services like Uber and available for personal use—many people are left wondering how these types of vehicles will change the way that government regulators, insurers, and the legal industry will view liability. Already we have seen significant accidents involving these vehicles in California, Arizona, and Florida, which are serving as the foundation for unprecedented regulations.
Each state has acted accordingly and either increased regulations regarding insurance minimums, such as in California, or left the regulations lax to continue to encourage companies such as Uber to bring self-driving cars into local markets, such as in Arizona and in Florida. Here are some things to understand about the way that self-driving cars may or may not be affecting liability and insurance.
Accident Liability with Self-Driving Cars
There are still many questions regarding how much the government will regulate self-driving cars. Currently, each state has different requirements for insurance minimums and regulations regarding the reporting of accidents or incidents with these types of vehicles. For example, as it stands in the states that allow self-driving test cars, the cars are treated just like any other car on the road. This means that the driver is still liable for any accident that is a result of improper handling of the vehicle. The reasoning for this policy is that the driver still has a responsibility to take over if there is a problem with the autopilot function of the car.
Florida’s Current Requirements for Autonomous Cars
Florida is one of the least restrictive active states for autonomous cars. Owners/operators of self-driving cars are not required to obtain additional levels of insurance, whereas in California, for example, a $5 million insurance policy is required. Also, in Florida the driver is not required to be in the car as long as an operator can be alerted of a problem if necessary. Furthermore, Florida does not require a special permit to own or operate an autonomous car.
Changes to the Auto Insurance Industry
Just as the autonomous car culture has the ability to disrupt transportation, there are certain companies getting into the insurance industry that may also change the way that insurance is handled as these cars become more popular. Companies, such as a startup called “Root,” are giving Tesla owners insurance breaks for turning on autopilot. Root is using technology within cars to identify safe drivers and adjust policies to allow for discounts for drivers who are utilizing techniques such as autosteering, which may contribute to fewer incidents on the road.
With the potential decrease in claims due to autonomous cars using technology to avoid accidents, it’s possible that traditional insurance companies may be forced to drop rates. This could cause an increase in competition to insure drivers who aren’t actually driving their cars, and thus completely disrupt the idea of liability and auto insurance coverage as it stands.
The influx of self-driving cars on the road may have a significant impact on the way that liability is viewed by legal regulators and insurers. These changes may affect liability claims if these vehicles are involved in accidents on the road. As in any situation where you have been a victim of an accident caused by the negligence of someone else, it’s important that you contact an experienced accident attorney who knows the liability laws and who may be able to help you recover compensation for your losses.
Florida doesn’t require permits for driverless cars. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2017, from http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2016/dec/28/jeff-brandes/florida-no-permit-needed-driverless-cars-florida-s/
Press, T. A. (2017, March 28). Uber self-driving car crash in Arizona comes amid debate about regulations. Retrieved April 05, 2017, from http://www.denverpost.com/2017/03/28/uber-self-driving-car-crash-in-arizona-comes-amid-debate-about-regulations/
(2017, March 09). This Insurance Startup Wants to Cover Tomorrow’s Self-Driving Cars. Retrieved April 05, 2017, from https://backchannel.com/this-insurance-startup-wants-to-cover-tomorrows-self-driving-cars-638c5ffc0d91