Car Insurance giants in talks with driverless car developers

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Car Insurance giants in talks with driverless car developers

The insurance company Aviva is positioning itself in the driverless car arena and is actively preparing for the arrival of autonomous vehicles by looking to partner with manufacturers and seal deals.

The automotive industry is expected to dramatically change in the next 15 years and many insurance companies are concerned that the increased safety and reliability of autonomous vehicles will reduce accident globally and therefore impact on the core element of their business.

It is very possible, that in the near future car insurance will no longer be needed and will be a defunct vestige of the old combustion engine non-autonomous world.

Maurice Tulloch, who is Aviva’s international insurance chief, said that their FTSE 100 business was talking to “a number” of companies involved in developing autonomous cars, “as I’m sure a number of people are.”

Any deal in the future may see drivers of autonomous vehicles automatically get Aviva insurance when buying a driverless car or come in the form of some sort of collaboration with a start-up in the driverless sector. The insurer confirmed that “if signed this would an Aviva first”.  

Talks are at an advanced stage between Aviva and at least one company based in Canada.

Drivers are legally required to have motor insurance in Ireland, but with the emergence of autonomous vehicles will open up a number of questions over the role of insurers in the market and especially with regard to who is to blame in the event of an accident.

Axa's UK chief executive Amanda Blanc said last month that, “babies born today may never have to take a driving test,”. She went on to say that the imminent arrival of driverless cars will make it “crucial” for insurers to look at the risks now.

The business model of insurance companies such as Aviva is now a threat from the emerging safety technologies of driverless vehicles. As a company, Aviva will want to get a foot into the autonomous industry early.

Partnering up with driverless car companies may not lead to Aviva having its own brand of driverless cars on the roads but it will give it access to new customers who presently do not have driving licences for many different reasons.

At the moment traditional insurers are extremely concerned that they could be pushed out of the market if they fall behind the trend of autonomy. Elon Musk, the chief executive of US electric car maker, Tesla, has already said his firm would in-source insurance if needed.

Rival insurance company Direct Line is also developing a trial of self-driving technology with FiveAI, which is a Cambridge-based artificial intelligence firm, the University of Oxford, Transport for London and the Transport Research Laboratory.

The Department for Transport in the United Kingdom is already considering a two-in-one style motor insurance product for the new driverless cars, which will cover both a motorist when they are driving and a car when it is in driver-less mode. This move will likely make manufacturers liable if their cars spin out of control in the latter case.

Don't forget to purchase a car history check  if you or a family member are planning to purchase a second hand car.


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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