Autonomous cars offer the promise that 20 years from now we’ll live in a world where cars take themselves to the gas station while we’re sleeping to fill up or charge up for the next morning’s drive, where we can enjoy texting on the ride to work without totaling our car, and where getting a learner’s permit will no longer be a teenage rite of passage. The day of the autonomous car is approaching, and while not every vehicle on the road will be without a driver once that day arrives, it’s expected that by around 2035, up to one-third are likely not to have one.
While it’s a scenario that every auto insurer has heard about and dreads, it’s not the scenario auto insurers should really be focused on today. Instead, they need to concentrate on the artificial intelligence already making its way onto the roads because it’s those advanced driver assistance systems that are about to upend accidents and claims experience in the industry’s pricing and underwriting models, long before self-driving cars make a significant impact.
Insurers are starting to get their first glimpse of the dramatically different world of driving they will be confronting for the next 15 to 20 years. It’s a landscape populated by the full spectrum of vehicles — from traditional car and driver to those that are partially self-piloted, with even a small set of experimental self-drivers. While the numbers with such innovations as autonomous braking and automatic steering correction functions are still few, that won’t be the case for long.
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