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Flux launch UK's first driverless car insurance policy

Posted on 07-06-2016

Adrian Flux is taking a pioneering step today (June 7) as it launches the UK’s very first personal driverless car insurance policy.

After months of careful consideration and development, the launch is a bid by Flux to support the UK in being at the forefront of self-driving technology. It’s hoped the new policy will encourage debate and discussion around the issue of liability and autonomous technology, as well as provide another step forward as the UK prepares for the driverless revolution.

The policy is designed for consumers who may already have driverless features in their existing cars, such as self-parking, or who may be thinking of buying a new car with driverless or autopilot features.

Gerry Bucke, general manager for Adrian Flux, says: “As the UK continues to invest in driverless research in preparation for the growing market for autonomous vehicles in the near future, we wanted to help provide confidence and clarity around the ongoing debate of ‘who is liable?’

“We understand this driverless policy to be the first of its kind in the UK – and possibly the world. It’s a fantastic starting point for the insurance industry and the policy, like any other, will be updated as both the liability debate and driverless technology evolve.”

The Modern Transport Bill announced in last month’s Queen’s Speech will extend compulsory cover to accidents where the car itself, rather than the driver, is at fault – something the insurance industry welcomed. A week later, the UK’s road minister, Andrew Jones outlined the insurance industry will adapt to the introduction of driverless cars and the question of liability by saying, “….in the event of a serious collision in driverless mode, it would be the vehicle at fault, instead of the human driver.”

The new driverless policy has additional features over a standard car insurance policy. Customers will be covered for loss or damage in the following scenarios:

  1. If updates or security patches for things like firewalls, operating systems, electronic mapping and journey planning systems haven’t been successfully installed in the vehicle within 24 hours of the owner being notified by the manufacturer or software provider, subject to an increased policy excess

  2. If there are satellite failure / outages that affect the navigation systems, or if the manufacturer’s operating system or authorised software fails

  3. Where there is loss or damage caused by failing, when able, to use manual override to avoid a collision or accident in the event of operating system, navigation system or mechanical failure.

  4. For loss or damage if your car gets hacked or an attempted hack results in loss or damage.

Testing of driverless cars in the UK has already begun thanks to the Government funding a number projects across the country. The Lutz Pathfinder self-driving cars are already testing in Milton Keynes, and Volvo has announced it will start to test semi-autonomous cars on public roads in London in 2017, with the hope of testing fully autonomous cars in 2018.

2020 is touted as the big year in the development of driverless cars, as a number of manufacturers have promised to bring cars with some self-driving functionality to market.

Mr Bucke adds: “More than half of new cars sold last year featured autonomous safety technology such as self-parking or ABS, which effectively either take control or take decisions on behalf of the driver. And it’s only going to continue. Driverless technology will become increasingly common in our cars over the next few years. We want this policy to reflect this transition and evolution.

“We already provide discounts for cars fitted with assistive technology such as autonomous braking as it has been proved to reduce accidents, and therefore claims. This is a natural continuation of the work that’s already gone into this area.”

Google is currently ploughing millions of dollars into designing and developing self-driving cars, but the results of a recent survey by Adrian Flux, who asked just under 1,800 of their customers about the future of motoring, revealed very few would consider buying once they hit the UK roads.

Of those who answered ‘not likely’ to owning one of the new motors, just over 45% said they didn’t like the idea of giving up control to a computer, while 36% said they simply enjoy driving too much to hand over the reins.

One of the biggest problems identified is the vulnerability of driverless cars to hacking, with many high-profile cases involving big manufacturers such as Jeep revealing security flaws in existing software.

Mr Bucke concludes: “We hope the launch of this policy provides a point of discussion for the insurance industry and the reassurance for the consumer who may wish to purchase a car with driverless features.”

To keep up-to-date on the progress in driverless vehicles visit Adrian Flux’s driverless hub.

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