Autonomous cars to require specialist insurance

Normal cover active when the driver is in control; secondary policy enacted as soon as the car takes over

The Government is to announce drivers of autonomous cars will have to take out specialist ‘dual cover’ insurance policies, according to information obtained by the Telegraph.

Under the proposals, when the car is being driven conventionally, its driver be covered by standard insurance. As soon as the car’s autonomous systems take control, however, a secondary policy will come into force.

If a collision occurs when the car is in control, insurance companies will pursue claims against the “party responsible”; this could, ultimately, be the car’s manufacturer. Any incident that happens when a person is driving the car will be dealt with in the same way collisions are presently handled. Determining whether the driver or car was in control when a crash occurred should be a simple enough matter thanks to modern data-logging systems.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the Telegraph that autonomous cars have the potential to make our roads “even safer”, but the government has a responsibility to “ensure the public is protected in the event of an incident”. The dual cover solution would mean that were a car to crash when in autonomous mode, victims would receive compensation quickly, without the need for complex legal procedures.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) welcomed the plans: Ben Howarth, a senior policy advisor at the ABI, claims the industry wants “to keep insurance as straightforward as possible, which is why insurers proposed the simple approach which the Government is now taking forward”.

The ABI has previously stated it’s “actively looking to support progress and innovation” where self-driving cars are concerned, but drivers “should continue to buy a single motor insurance policy to cover both manual and automated driving”.

Assuming the plans for dual cover insurance go ahead, it’d be unlikely owners of autonomous cars would require two separate policies – but they’d almost certainly need to seek out specialist coverage that made provision for manual and automated driving modes.

The big question, as always, is how much all this will cost consumers. Research indicates over 90% of crashes are down to driver error, so autonomous cars should be cheaper to insure in theory. But the reliability and consistency of autonomous cars is still something of an unknown quantity, and the insurance industry is not averse to raising its prices despite enjoying significant profits.

Most Popular

Hot car deal: quirky Nissan Juke hybrid for £172 a month
Nissan Juke dynamic
Deals
26 Feb 2024

Hot car deal: quirky Nissan Juke hybrid for £172 a month

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s top car offers
Carbuyer best new car deals hero
Deals
23 Feb 2024

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s top car offers

New Mercedes CLE Cabriolet released, costing from £53k
Mercedes CLE Cabriolet front quarter
News
22 Feb 2024

New Mercedes CLE Cabriolet released, costing from £53k

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
19 Dec 2023

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Public EV charge point
Tips and advice
11 Jan 2023

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
12 Apr 2023

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors

Top 10 best electric cars 2024
The best electric cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best electric cars 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024
The best cheap-to-run cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024
Fastest hot hatchbacks hero
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024