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Who Insures a Driverless Car?

California has become the third state to legalize driverless cars, a concept automobile under development by Google
October 11, 2012

Here’s an item that reminds us we are in fact well into the 21st century. California has become the third state to legalize driverless cars, a concept automobile under development by Google. While noting that these cars are still years away from being produced on an assembly line, Tom Kavanagh, director of the insurance practice for PricewaterhouseCoopers, says it’s still interesting to ponder this question today: If there is no driver, then who assumes liability if there is an accident, the owner or the manufacturer?

He says it will still be years before insurers have to face the driverless-car issues, with earliest manufacturing forecast in 2015, if not later. In the meantime, insurers are “approaching this like they would any issue, working with their legal and compliance departments and with regulators on timing and related issues.”

A spokesperson from Google declined to comment, but did acknowledge that the insurance implications are important and will need to be worked out. The company also issued a statement saying, “Self-driving cars have the potential to significantly increase driver safety.”

One thing is certain: this will make it more difficult to blame “the idiot driving that car.”

Who Insures a Driverless Car? (National Underwriter 10/1/12)

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