If you have a long commute or frequently travel by car for work, you may do your best to maximize the productivity of your travel time by listening to audiobooks or even dictating texts or emails through your vehicle's Bluetooth connection. If you already do this, then the promise of self-driving cars may seem too good to be true -- while you'll still be responsible for maintaining attention on the road while driving so that you can respond quickly in an emergency, a fully self-driving car (or even one with autopilot mode) can free your hands for a variety of tasks, taking multitasking (and safety) to a new level. However, these vehicles aren't without their risks, and it's likely you'll need to have a new auto insurance policy quoted if you're serious about purchasing a self-driving vehicle. Read on to learn more about how the purchase of a vehicle with an autopilot feature may affect your auto insurance rates, as well as your potential liability if you're involved in an accident while your vehicle is in autopilot mode.
Will your insurance premium increase or decrease if you purchase a vehicle with autopilot?
At least one auto manufacturer has developed a vehicle navigation system that offers automatic steering, braking, and lane changing features. This can be ideal for highway or interstate driving, as you'll be able to let your car take over once you've set the cruise control to highway speed. A variety of other manufacturers have created several crash avoidance features, like automatic braking when you're following the vehicle in front of you too closely or triggering an alarm if you attempt to change lanes while a vehicle is in your blind spot.
In many cases, these added safety features can bring your insurance premium down by reducing the risk you'll be involved in a crash. However, the higher replacement and repair costs inherent with any new vehicle (regardless of how safe) can sometimes cause your premium to rise, especially if you're required by your auto lender to carry low deductibles on all coverages.
If you're not happy with the price of your quoted insurance and you practice safe driving habits, you may want to see if your agent offers "black box" insurance. Purchasing this type of insurance permits the agency to install a GPS device on your vehicle that measures factors like average speed, the force with which you brake, how closely you follow other drivers, and even whether you habitually use your turn signals. For those who practice responsible driving habits, this can significantly reduce insurance costs by proving you're a defensive driver and at a low risk of making an insurance claim.
What happens if you're in an accident while your vehicle is in autopilot mode?
If you do find yourself surveying the aftermath of a car crash that happened while your autopilot was engaged, you may wonder whether you'll bear any personal responsibility if you're deemed to have been at fault in the crash. Fortunately, your auto insurance coverage should pay for any necessary repairs to both your vehicle and that of the other driver. If the other driver sustained damages in excess of your insurance limits, he or she may be able to personally sue you -- just as in any other situation where a car crash led to serious injuries.
However, if you believe the crash was caused by a malfunction in the vehicle's autopilot system and not your own error or lack of attention, you may be able to file a counterclaim against the auto manufacturer. This can help insulate you from any financial liability (and can sometimes even pay your legal fees) if you and the plaintiff can work together to show that the accident was caused by a mistake made by the manufacturer.
Talk with your auto insurance agent for more information or additional reading.