Self-driving vehicles will change the auto liability landscape across Canada and raise data privacy concerns, said an issues paper from Quebec’s financial services regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).
The paper identifies five levels within the connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) spectrum – from full driver control to an entirely autonomous state that requires no driver input for the vehicle to operate.
Existing forms of driver-assist controls for vehicles currently sold in Canada reach level three; the remaining two tiers haven’t yet been achieved.
But, AMF noted, the intended outcome of vehicle autonomy is to reach a point where conventional vehicle insureds cease to be drivers and become mere occupants in a machine that transports them to a destination.
That means, the paper noted, “a legal presumption of liability for any property damage caused during an accident would potentially no longer apply to them.”
Which raises questions about whether a legal presumption of liability would apply to car manufacturers or their software providers and whether those two parties should be able to contest any liability. And, in future situations where the outcome of an accident is determined by computer programs, does the insurer’s role simply shift to one of damage appraiser?
“The change in paradigm currently underway could see liability for automobile accidents shift to the auto manufacturer or software vendor, among others, requiring modifications to automobile insurance policies,” the paper said.
AMF said its role as regulator responsible for approving the form and terms of automobile insurance policies, and it’s consumer protection mission, makes it “a key player in the CAV ecosystem in Québec.” As such, the paper said it intends to act upstream to overcome certain barriers in insurance to the introduction of CAVs.
“The AMF has to clearly understand how these new technologies will change the automobile insurance market,” the paper said, “so that it can then modify the automobile insurance policies accordingly.”