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Insurers could be given access to autonomous vehicle crash data

New laws could give insurers access to information following an accident with a driverless car

Words BySam Sheehan

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The Association of British Insurers (ABI) and vehicle safety company Thatcham Research are pushing for new laws that would allow insurers to see data collected by autonomous cars during an accident.

The companies say this data would help insurers determine whether the autonomous car or its driver was at fault, helping to speed up insurance claim cases and in turn reduce the premiums of the average British driver.

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Thatcham Research CEO Peter Shaw said: β€œFuture legislation needs to protect the consumer so that in the event of an accident, responsibility and who pays can be quickly determined.

β€œWas it driver error or a failure of the automated driving system? This can only happen if their insurer has access to key data about the crash. We would like to see car manufacturers and legislators working together with the insurance industry to develop a framework to make this happen.”

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If an autonomous car is to blame for an accident, the ABI believes the car’s manufacturer should be made to pay for damages. Volvo has already said it would adopt this approach with its first autonomous vehicles. β€œIf you want to be in that market, you have to take that liability,” Volvo CEO HΓ₯kan Samuelsson said.

If these proposed new regulations are passed as law, insurers will have access to data from 30sec before to 15sec after an accident. The data will include whether the car was in autonomous mode or not, the car’s GPS location at the time of the incident and whether the driver’s seat was in use at that time.

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The data won’t, however, include how the car is being driven if the driver is in control, meaning the data alone can’t prove or disprove if you were speeding or driving recklessly.

Thatcham and the ABI are hoping to influence the UN body responsible for vehicle regulations, which is preparing to reveal its own data requirements for vehicle manufacturers from 2019.

β€œInsurance is an increasingly innovative sector, constantly responding to evolving technology,” continued Evans. β€œWe have created new ways for people to manage their motor insurance via their smartphones, and a service to collate people’s pension savings online is in development. Insurance enables technological advances in other sectors, and we are backing the development of automated cars 100%.”


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