The Government has announced that it is to extend compulsory motor vehicle insurance to include the use of autonomous vehicles.
In its response to a consultation on ‘proposals to support advanced driver assistance systems and automated vehicles’, published on 6 January, the DfT said it would look to protect victims of collisions where autonomous vehicle technology was at fault.
It confirmed that the victim will have a ‘direct right against the motor insurer, and the insurer in turn will have a right of recovery against the responsible party, to the extent there is a liability under existing laws, including product liability laws’.
Insurance has been seen as a stumbling block when it comes to the future of autonomous vehicle technology. In January 2016, a number of Britain’s leading car insurers joined forces to address concerns within the industry that the introduction of driverless cars could see premiums and profits slashed.
They formed the Automated Driving Insurance Group (ADIG), led by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), in an effort to establish who will be responsible in the event of a collision – the ‘driver’ or the vehicle manufacturer.
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Launched in July, the Government consultation sought views on proposals to make amendments to primary legislation to ensure insurance products will be available for the arrival of the technology.
In its response, the DfT said it received ‘positive support’ from automotive, road safety, legal and insurance bodies for its proposed approach to regulating new vehicle technologies in a rolling programme of reform.
With regard to proposals to change the compulsory motor insurance framework, the Government will make the ‘minimum legislative changes required to enable the market to develop appropriate autonomous vehicle insurance products’.
However, in response to feedback from the automotive and insurance industries, as well as law firms, the proposals will ‘extend compulsory motor vehicle insurance, creating a single insurer model to protect victims where the autonomous vehicle causes a crash in automated mode’.
The Government proposals, which also include updating the Highway Code, will be taken through to the Modern Transport Bill which is due to enter Parliament in early 2017.