Driverless Cars Could Herald Big Insurance Bill

Driverless Cars Could Herald Big Insurance Bill
20th May 2016 James Brooke

Driverless Cars Could Herald Big Insurance Bill

Green light for driverless cars welcome but holds hidden risk, says Claims.co.uk.

The announcement of legislative support in the Queen’s Speech clears the road for driverless cars and expert personal injury portal Claims.co.uk says the forthcoming Transport Bill could fuel a future legal bill if all the outstanding legal obstacles cannot be smoothed out before the cars are seen on Britain’s roads.

The government’s legislative programme outlined by HM the Queen on 18 May included the Modern Transport Bill that could see driverless cars on our streets within four years, insured under ordinary motor policies. Insurers have broadly welcomed the news and claims.co.uk welcomes the arrival of such cars, but it is far from a clear road ahead.

“I am a big supporter of driverless cars and if introduced correctly, they have the potential to save more lives than seatbelts on the nation’s roads,” said John Quail, Managing Director of Claims.co.uk “The announced legislation could see us all buying and using driverless cars by 2020 but there are quite a few issues to resolve before we hand the keys to a computer – not least insurance liability when a human is not in control of a vehicle.”

Trials are due to begin as early as next year and a recent YouGov survey revealed drivers are unsure on who would be held responsible should they need to make a claim against a driverless car. 33% said they wouldn’t know, 28% said the owner of the driverless car would be at fault, whilst 30% said the manufacturer would be to blame.

“The government is clearly looking to address some of these issues and while these cars are under test, it is likely any accident would have to be tested case by case through the courts,” added Quail. “However, it is one thing to go from cars under test conditions, to operating vehicles nationwide under ordinary insurance.”

Quail also points out the big difference between a fully automated vehicle, making a driver redundant and a system simply offering a higher level of assistance, requiring full driver involvement and that any legal framework would need to reflect that.

“It is no exaggeration to say full automation would revolutionise transport,” added Quail. “Those unable to drive would be given a new lease of life; there would be no excuses for drunk-driving and with more than 90 per cent of road accidents a result of human error, we could slash death rates and SMIDSY (sorry mate, I didn’t see you) would become a thing of the past.”

The UK never ratified the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (1968), which in Article 8 states “every driver shall at all times be able to control his vehicle,” which gives the UK a head start in driverless cars. An amendment has been tabled to allow other European countries to follow the UKs lead, but while the legislative issues are not as unsurmountable as for others, the day to day realities of any claims and liability remain to be addressed.

“I expect to see recognition of the need for greater certainty around criminal and civil liability for automated vehicles as this Transport Bill draws closer,” added Quail. “Driverless cars have the potential to transform lifestyles and save lives. However, there could be a big financial bill to be paid if the full implications of driverless cars are not thought through in these early stages. Thee hope will be that driverless cars will see a fall in insurance premiums, but there’s potential for fraudulent claims to increase in the short term. It’s important therefore that any legal issues surrounding driverless cars are established explicitly before we see them on the road.”

To find out more about what Claims.co.uk can do for you or someone you know, visit www.claims.co.uk

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Notes to Editors:
http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2015/june/courts-given-stronger-powers-to-strike-out-fundamentally-dishonest-claims-says-expert/

The Pathway to Driverless Cars, Department for Transport, February 2015. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/401562/pathway-driverless-cars-summary.pdf

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2028 GB adults, of which 1747 hold a valid UK driving licence. Fieldwork was undertaken between the 13th and 14th of July 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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About Claims.co.uk
Claims.co.uk is a leading consumer portal that allows the public to receive instant, no obligation advice from the firm’s panel of friendly and experienced solicitors.

Specialising in personal injury, Claims.co.uk has years of experience in matching the right type of claim to the legal firm with the experience to match.

The firm works to make consumers aware of the three year time limit on compensation claims and using clear language aims to de-mystify the legal landscape in order to make consulting a solicitor less of an intimidating experience and all based on a no-win no fee model.

The firm’s team of solicitors specialise in Accidents at work, Medical Negligence and Road Traffic Accidents in addition to criminal injury and slips, trips and falls.

Claims.co.uk doesn’t go in for fancy jargon, legal speak or hackneyed company taglines, but represents itself as a small team looking to help others by providing the right guidance and advice in what can be a complex area for many members of the public not familiar with the legal process.

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