Insurers are urging the Government to push driverless car makers to deliver data after vehicles are involved in accidents, in the face of objections from carmakers including Elon Musk’s electric specialist Tesla.
Car insurers experience a complete overhaul of their businesses when cars start to drive themselves, with the liability for accidents likely to be shifting from drivers to manufacturers.
Even though driverless vehicles are not anticipated to hit the roads for several years, manufacturers have already indicated a hesitation to share accident information due to security concerns, according to Axa’s David Williams, who chairs the Association of British Insurers’ autonomous driving group. He said that the industry was suggesting changes to driverless car legislation that is currently going through the Commons, to order manufacturers to give up information immediately after a collision.
“These cars are going to be like computers on wheels,” said Williams. “We want to make it mandatory that certain elements of data are available instantly.”
While driverless vehicles are anticipated to dramatically reduce the number of accidents, there is possibly be a bedding-in period of several years, if not decades, in which autonomous and human-driven cars share the roads. Since passengers in driverless cars may not be credible witnesses for crashes, insurers say that they will require access to car data to assess claims.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association has suggested a series of regional “clearing houses” that would act as intermediaries between insurers and manufacturers, although some manufacturers have opposed the idea, worrying that looser data rules will make driverless cars an easier target for cyber attacks.
Earlier this month, the Department for Transport launched the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill which included a series of proposals on who is responsible for driverless vehicle accidents. It says that driverless car owners will have the responsibility for installing software updates on their cars, with insurance policies voided if they do not.