California likes to be at the forefront of things, including those in the technology realm. So it was no surprise last week that California became just the third state in the nation to approve of driverless vehicles, according to news reports. Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1298 on Tuesday, September 25, at Google headquarters in Mountain View. He said, “Today, we’re looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow’s reality. This self-driving car is another step forward in this long march of California pioneering the future and leading not just the country, but the whole world.” Google has been working on prototypes for this kind of car, but the earliest manufacture date is 2015, if not later. There is still a lot of work to be done before they are commercially viable.
But to a California insurance lawyer this step forward in technology also brings many questions for the future of auto insurance and liability for accidents with these new driverless cars. This will add a layer of complexity to car insurance in the future, if and when these driverless cars become common on our roads. One of the questions that will have to be addressed is if there is a car accident and someone is injured, who will be liable- the owner of the car, who was not driving, or the manufacturer of the car? On the other hand, if these driverless cars prove to be an improvement in safety, as proponents claim, then car insurance premiums could go down for everyone as fewer accidents occur.
Robert Passmore, senior director of personal lines policy Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, went so far as to say that there are those who believe the driverless car could mean the end of auto accidents, translating into the end of auto insurance. It is difficult to imagine that these new cars will have a perfect performance record 100 percent of the time, however. Additionally, there will still be risks with manually driven cars. Legislation in the two other states, Nevada and Florida, where these cars have been approved require the cars to have a licensed operator and the ability to override the computer driving program, as well, meaning that truly driverless cars are even further in the future. Plus these cars are likely to be expensive, especially at first, and owners will still need insurance to protect from theft or property damage. Therefore, it really does not appear as though auto insurance will become obsolete in the near future.
However, it does seem clear that this is an area of insurance law in California that should be followed closely in the coming years, as technology evolves and our laws must change with it.
San Francisco Insurance Attorneys
Regardless of new technological innovations, insurance companies will still be both necessary and a risk to consumers in their quest for more and more profits. If you are having a problem with your insurance, on property old fashioned or high tech, contact an experienced insurance lawyer in your area today.