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Self-driving cars create new challenges for insurance companies

The rapidly developing technology of self-driving vehicles could result in these autonomous cars joining the flow of traffic in New York. Because this technology nearly eliminates human vehicle operation, insurance companies will need to consider new factors when developing insurance products for robotic transportation.

Although the companies and research laboratories developing this technology have presented impressive data about the safety of self-driving cars, the test results are still preliminary. RAND researchers have stated that much more real-world testing needs to be conducted. Insurance companies are waiting for this additional information before offering coverage for autonomous vehicles.

Because insurance companies cannot accurately assess the risk of autonomous vehicles at this time, manufacturers have decided to self-insure their self-driving cars. Google, Mercedes and Volvo have done this, but the solution could open the door to privacy concerns. A company that self-insures its products might choose to restrict a programmed vehicle from entering dangerous neighborhoods or traveling by unsafe routes. Even when environmental risks are not detected, a self-driving car might be directed by its manufacturer to take certain routes that expose the occupants to certain businesses.

While automakers and insurance companies grapple with the issues created by new technologies, a person injured in a traffic accident will still be making a personal injury claim within the existing insurance landscape. If an injured person has difficulty sorting through the evidence about the car accident, then an attorney could be enlisted to communicate with an insurance company. An attorney could help decipher the applicable policy and identify the benefits that the accident victim might have a right to claim if the other driver caused the accident. When necessary, an attorney might help take the lawsuit to trial and present the evidence of negligence to a judge and jury.

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