Alistair Kinley, director of policy and government affairs at insurance and risk law firm BLM, said:
“At the moment, the law is that there has to be a user - a human driver - of the vehicle who could be liable for accident caused by straightforward poor driving or by, say, failing to disengage the cruise control. His or her motor insurance covers this liability arising from the human use of the car.
“What we’ll need to work out, working with Government is what new legal and insurance solutions there should be when the car is in fully driverless mode?
"The answers are going to have to involve the vehicle manufacturers as well as insurers, so that passengers and other road users are still protected when a fully autonomous car has an accident. Equally, the ‘disengaged driver’ should also be protected in that instance. This could mean we need new legal rights and new insurance products to back them.
“Developments are likely to be incremental. In the medium term, say four or five years out, certain defined modes of vehicle autonomy could be permitted by the law and insured via a new section of a motor insurance policy, perhaps supported by vehicle manufacturers working jointly with the insurance markets.”
BLM is closely involved with the ABI’s Autonomous Driving Insurance Group and is helping to develop legal and insurance solutions so that the UK can continue to take the lead in facilitating driverless cars on the roads and can realise the social and economic benefits of the new technologies.