The risks of self-driving cars are best mitigated by adapting the current personal and commercial auto insurance system rather than product-liability lawsuits, according to a report released Monday by the Travelers Institute, the public policy division of the insurance company.
Crash victims will get quicker results and the insurance system will adapt to the new technology as it has done numerous times in the past, said the report, titled “Insuring Autonomy: How Auto Insurance Will Lead Through Changing Risks.”
And considering that self-driving or autonomous vehicles (AVs) will likely share the road with non-autonomous vehicles for the near future, adapting auto insurance to the new technology will ensure consistency.
Coverage limits for the expensive software and hardware needed for AVs will need to be higher, the report added, likely resulting in higher costs for owners.
The report also updated the state of AV usage nationwide: As of December, 58 companies had
active AV testing permits in the state of California, driving more than 2.8 million autonomous miles on California roads in 2019. Waymo One launched its fully driverless ride-hailing service in 2019 in metro Phoenix, Arizona.
As of this month, 28 states and the District of Columbia have already passed some form of legislation regulating AV use. (Connecticut authorized the testing of fully autonomous vehicles on its roads in 2018.)
Despite calls to regulate AVs using product liability laws, the resulting lawsuits would slow the process of compensating accident victims and clog the legal system, Travelers said.
“Leveraging the existing automobile insurance structure, both commercial
and personal, is the best method for compensating crash victims quickly and efficiently – now and in the future,” the report stated.
Maryland-based Robotic Research LLC, which makes software for autonomous and robotic technology, announced in June that it would work with Connecticut’s Department of Transportation on a pilot program that will test autonomous buses on the CTfastrak busway.