Driverless cars: BLM comments on notion of non-compulsory motor cover

20 May 2015

BLM partner and head of motor, Nick Rogers comments on the notion of non-compulsory motor cover for driverless cars, which has hit the headlines this week following a debate session at last week’s BIBA conference.

Nick said: “It’s hard to imagine the EU Motor Insurance Directive stepping back from compulsory insurance for motor vehicles for so long as accidents remain possible, particularly as meaningful accidents between driverless cars and other vehicles are likely to be multi-vehicle, multi-occupancy events of some complexity. There is little point in speculating about possible motor insurance regimes were the UK to withdraw from the EU. The reality is that society – whether at national level or at European level – will continue to mandate a minimum level of motor liability so as to protect against injury and property damage.

"The far more interesting questions are: who will be responsible for ensuring that compulsory insurance is in place, and what type of insurance will evolve to fulfil the legal that requirement? Will it be the owners, or the vehicle manufacturers or the original equipment manufacturers that the law will require to have motor insurance?

“We shouldn’t assume that our traditional insurance relationships won’t also evolve, particularly as vehicle owners with no means of actually driving their vehicle - beyond programming it - are likely to expect a full, no quibbles indemnity from the responsible party to be available before they even consider purchase. The structure, however, of the insurance market, the products and their distribution channels may change significantly: private car ownership and insurance could decline, transferring the risk to, for example, the product liability side or to fleet insurance for the likes of Uber or large corporates that may provide access to autonomous vehicles as a staff benefit in place of, say, free parking.”

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Disclaimer: This document does not present a complete or comprehensive statement of the law, nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight issues that may be of interest to customers of BLM. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in any particular case.

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