In a potential powerful disruption to an industry that totals around $200 billion, and following ideas outlined by Elon Musk that driving your own car could be deemed illegal soon, autonomous vehicles could eliminate the need for driving insurances.
Removing the driver out of the equation – which is the main concern of auto safety because of human error – could lower at least the need for today’s private insurances, with liability in case of an accident assumed by the auto manufacturer, the software designer or other third parties. That would be logical – if you don’t control the car, why should you pay for any wrong doing? The possibility – which is today only theoretical – has been discussed in an essay by Yale Law School student Jack Boeglin, published by the current issue of the Yale Journal of Law & Technology. “If nondiscretionary-communicative vehicles became mandatory there would be no need for private insurance, since all liability for AVs would be transferred to manufacturers,” comments the student. “Eliminating the entire automobile insurance industry would be a monumental boost to administrative efficiency.” Insurance companies might find this a catastrophe in the beginning as they adjust, but other sources of revenue could appear – such as insuring the manufacturers.
In the view presented in the essay, freedom, privacy, and liability are not independent pieces, but rather interlocking elements, making up a new puzzle of autonomous car regulation. And when it comes to the initial stages when drivers still have a measure of control over the driving duties, the intelligent car’s built in systems could provide enough information to determine where the human driver error ended and where automated error started – splitting the liability with the manufacture, if needed.