If you have been paying attention to the tech news over the past few years, you know that there is a bog movement to create self-driving cars. This is an incredible and exciting field with the potential to revolutionize human transportation. Furthermore, all kinds of companies are pushing to get their autonomous cars on the road, from pure tech companies like Google to auto companies like Chrysler and even academic research teams. The prize is something that seems impossible now- a national fleet of computer-driven cars that are much safer and less likely to crash than current cars. As we progress towards this goal, how will auto insurance change in order to adapt to the new technology?
First of all, it is important to note that we already have some autonomous car features in cars that are available today. The process of creating self-driving cars is not abrupt and sudden. There are many features of a self-driving car that work now in regular cars. For example, lane change guidance systems provide extra information to the driver about when it is safe to change lanes. That reduces accidents on highways and in other contexts that involve lane shifts. Another example is collision detection. Cars can automatically brake when they sense an obstacle in the direction of the car’s motion. Keeping in mind that auto insurance follows cars, not drivers, it is clear that while cars with these features are more expensive, they will carry significant savings for drivers on their auto insurance payments. If they can really reduce accident risk, auto insurance companies will take that into account when pricing their policies.
As a state, Texas has dense cities, sprawling suburbs, wide-open farmland, and all kinds of terrain. That presents a challenge for self-driving cars, which as of now are getting the most testing in cities. It might take human guidance to show an autonomous car how to drive in all the different contexts in Texas. That means auto insurance costs could differ dramatically by location. Areas like suburbs that are simple to navigate and have flat terrain would be easiest for autonomous cars. Complex city roads, offroad driving, and the countryside are less familiar to the onboard computer, and therefore more likely to cause mistakes. Auto insurance has to take this into account when it comes to picking a price for a given customer. Insurers will certainly become more interested in where people drive and take that into account.
While self-driving cars are many years away, their new features are slowly making their way into mainstream cars, so auto insurance companies need to begin adapting now. The transition is exciting because it is a sign of what might be in our future- a network of cars that removes the risks of drowsiness, intoxication, or inattention in the driver. The rise of assisted driving features shows the potential of the technology, but there will surely be many pitfalls that drivers, manufacturers, and insurers all need to anticipate in order to make sure that the cars are safe.