Driverless cars may be around sooner than we think - the UK's first driverless car insurance policy

Driverless cars is a technological advance which has been spoken of for several years, and it surely won’t be long before it becomes commonplace on UK roads. In fact, in June this year BMW accelerated plans to acquire the technology required to ‘make cars smart enough to react like human drivers’ – but the company is not alone in trying to win the autonomous driving race.

Google’s self driving cars have been in development since the beginning of the project back in 2009, and continue to be involved in testing. Its ‘Self-Driving Car Project Monthly Report’ for May 2016 revealed it has recently been trialling its honking algorithms: ‘We’ve even taught our vehicles to use different types of honks depending on the situation,’ it stated.
‘If another vehicle is slowly reversing towards us, we might sound two short, quieter pips as a friendly heads up to let the driver know we’re behind. However, if there’s a situation that requires more urgency, we’ll use one loud sustained honk.’

Meanwhile, Tesla Motors is said to be rolling out self driving cars and Apple are also rumoured to be considering doing the same. Volvo will begin trialling in 2017. You get the picture – there are some real heavyweights involved in projects which would genuinely and significantly change the motoring experience as we know it.

One of the big questions should surely be this – how would the emergence of driverless, or self driving, cars affect car insurance? That’s something some insurance companies with be contemplating right now, with one of them – Adrian Flux – launching what it believes to be the UK’s first driverless car policy’ already.

In June 2016, the Guardian reported the development. It said the policy is designed for ‘consumers who already have driverless features in their cars, such as self parking, or are thinking of buying a car with autopilot features’. For motorists this is an interesting development as it means many of the models currently available to buy or to hire from the likes of Lease Car have some driverless features which could help to lower premiums.

Gerry Bucke, general manager at Adrian Flux, commented: “More than half of new cars sold last year featured autonomous safety technology, such as self parking or ABS, which effectively either take control or take decisions on behalf of the driver. And it’s only going to continue.”
Expect other insurers to follow soon. In a recent article on the ABI – Association of British Insurers – blog, it was detailed that new legislation to ‘ensure appropriate insurance is available to support the use of autonomous and driverless vehicles’ has been announced. Moreover, insurers ‘strongly support’ new technology and with Department of Transport statistics revealing around 90% of road traffic accidents are caused in some way by human error, driverless cars may completely transform not only our road behaviours but the way future insurance policies are structured.


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