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November 16, 2015

Will You Own a Self-Driving Vehicle?

Summary:

The questions are getting more complex as self-driving vehicles approach reality. It's crucial that we experiment and learn.

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The introduction of self-driving vehicles (SDVs) poses many questions. Working for Zurich, I’m often asked about the insurance and liability implications: “What happens if my SDV is involved in an accident, and who pays?” Increasingly, I am facing a line of more technical and legal questioning. For example, “Who homologates the vehicle, approves its circulation, certifies that it complies to safety standards?” Or even, “Am I allowed to operate an SDV to run my morning errands?” I expect these questions to become more complex as we get closer to the reality of our purchasing our first SDVs.

As a strong supporter of public transport, I am keen to understand how the path to autonomy will influence urban buses, trams and the like. Will the trend for car clubs, and sharing in general, extend to SDVs, or will vehicles be mostly owned by individuals and fleet managers? And if SDVs do become a shared mode of transport, how will customers react to boarding a two-seater “autonomous pod,” left dirty by that nice gentleman who just stepped out?

No one has a crystal ball that can predict the potential legal, cultural and behavioral impact of SDVs, so it’s important that we experiment and learn — like the researchers at CityMobil2 are doing with a number of demonstrations across Europe. Zurich has just announced it will work with them and, we hope, other similar organizations.

Every big oak was once a small acorn.

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About the Author

Domenico Savarese has been the global head of proposition development for personal lines and the global lead of telematics for Zurich Insurance since 2013. Savarese has served as program director for Zurich Insurance, head of finance and deputy head of PMO for Kuoni Travel and engagement manager for McKinsey.

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