How Will Self-Driving Cars Affect Auto Insurance?
As our Delray Beach personal injury attorneys know, many factors influence the premium you pay for your auto insurance. But with the advent and expansion of self-driving automobiles on America’s roads and highways, how insurance is calculated may change dramatically.
Currently, auto insurers collect and consider a wide range of factors in determining how much you should pay for your auto insurance. In conducting their analysis, insurers first estimate how likely are you to get into a car accident or have your car damages for another reason. Then, as our personal injury lawyers know, they calculate how much you need to pay in premiums to offset the probability that the insurance company will have to pay out on your behalf. In addition to calculating how expensive and hard-to-repair your car is, among the factors that auto insurers consider in assessing your auto insurance are your:
- marital status
- driving experience
- driving/traffic ticket record
- insurance claim history; and your
- credit history.
But with self-driving cars, many of those factors are rendered irrelevant. Aside from considering the make and model of your car, it’s possible that the only thing about you that insurance companies will care about is where you live (i.e., how likely it is that your car will be broken into or stolen) and how many miles your car drives each day (because the more time you spend on the road, the more time there is for someone else to hit you).
To help illustrate the difference between insuring a normal driver and a self-driving car, consider the hypothetical case of John Smith, a single, 25-year-old male with 9 years of driving experience, 2 speeding tickets in the last 2 years, a claims history of $10,000, and a credit score of 750. Assume John drives a 2018 Auto ABC, drives 20 miles per day, and lives in zip code 01010.
- When John applies for auto insurance, the company will consider all of these factors. Some of the factors which will encourage the company to assess him a higher premium is his age, his gender, his speeding tickets and his claims history.
But now assume that everything else remains the same, except John drives a self-driving 2018 Auto ABC.
- Many of those factors mentioned above become irrelevant. It no longer matters what type of driver John is or how much experience he has, because as our lawyers know, John won’t be driving the car! The self-driving car will be driving itself.
The market will become far less about insuring the driver, and far more about insuring the vehicle. Along similar lines, we can expect to see a major shift from driver responsibility to manufacturer responsibility.
The transition from driven cars to self-driving cars may also have an impact on DUI laws. Today, it is illegal to get behind the wheel of a vehicle if your BAC is .08 or above. This is because when you are intoxicated, your ability to react and process information is severely diminished. But what if you’re not driving the car? Your self-driving car will still operate the same whether you are under the influence of alcohol (or other drugs) or not. This is another area of the law that is bracing for change.
For more information on this exciting issue, please visit the Insurance Information Institute’s webpage dedicated to discussion of this topic.