Canadian Underwriter

Insurers weigh in on how automated vehicles should be covered

November 15, 2018   by Jason Contant

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The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has recommended a single insurance policy to cover driver negligence and automated technology to facilitate liability claims associated with autonomous vehicles.

“The automated vehicle’s insurer would compensate injured people if the automated vehicle caused a collision, regardless of whether the human operator or automated technology was in control,” IBC wrote in a position paper, Auto Insurance for Automated Vehicles: Preparing for the Future of Mobility, released Thursday during its annual Regulatory Affairs Symposium. “The single insurance policy’s intent is to align the tort process for automated vehicle claims with traditional claims involving conventional vehicles.”

The paper contained three recommendations for updating both provincial insurance laws and federal vehicle safety standards. The other two recommendations are:

  • Establish a legislated data-sharing arrangement between vehicle manufacturers and vehicle owners and/or insurers to help determine the cause of a collision
  • Update federal vehicle safety standards to address new technology and cybersecurity standards.

IBC notes that each province has a prescribed auto insurance policy and supporting laws that are not yet designed for automated vehicles. “Currently, they are built on the notion that human error is the primary cause of collisions,” IBC said in a release. “As humans cede control of driving to automated technology, there will likely be fewer collisions, but the collisions that do occur will be caused increasingly by product malfunction. The current laws will create uncertainty and confusion for some people injured in collisions that involve automated vehicles, possibly delaying treatment for their injuries and claims payouts.”

Product liability litigation is more complex and takes years longer to resolve than traditional motor vehicle liability claims. “The longer wait will delay compensation for many people who use automated vehicle or who are injured in a collision involving an automated vehicle,” the report said.

Several major auto manufacturers expect to have automated vehicles available for purchase in the early 2020s. IBC is asking governments across the country to update relevant laws, to ensure the industry is ready when automated vehicles hit the roads.

“Automated vehicles are coming to Canada’s roads, and the laws that govern insurance and vehicle safety need to be updated to reflect this reality,” said Don Forgeron, president and CEO of IBC. “We need changes to the provincial insurance laws across the country to ensure that collision victims continue to be compensated in a timely manner.”

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