There is no use denying it. Self-driving cars are happening. The only question is when the companies deem them safe enough for mass commercial deployment, and when the lawmakers have passed enough laws allowing them to populate our roads. As someone that loves driving and rowing through gears, this inevitability is upsetting. However, even the most diehard car-jockeys admit that autonomous vehicles will bring about some major improvements: Less road congestion, a decline in emissions, and fewer accidents. It shouldn’t be surprising then, that one meaningful area where we, as drivers may also benefit, is insurance premiums.
Consulting firm KPMG, released a white paper saying that the personal car insurance business could drop as much as 60%, with loss costs dropping from $120 billion today to $50 billion within 25 years. Already, safety features like various collision-avoidance systems have dropped front end collisions by 7-15% according to statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Those numbers are expected to drop even faster once vehicles with certain autonomous features begin seeing use by the general public as early as 2017. KPMG is predicting an overall 80% drop in accidents over the next 25 years.
It should be noted that KPMG’s report is fairly optimistic. The firm believes that within ten years, all new cars sold will be autonomous. Further speculating, that by 2025 manufacturers will have systems in place to retrofit older manual cars with autonomous features, resolving the big question of how self-driving cars will interact with ones still controlled by human beings.
Before we see the drastic changes in our insurance bills however, KPMG is warning that insurance companies will have to work quickly, if they want to avoid being swept away by this rapid transformation.
“Our belief is that the disruption to insurance carriers will be profound, with a select set of winners and a broad set of losers.”
In other words, insurance carriers will need to shift their policies. Those large drops in personal coverage will have to be made up elsewhere. One such possibility is new commercial fleet policies. Another, is all new insurances imposed on the manufacturers of the autonomous vehicles. Since drivers will no longer be accountable for the accidents, the people building the vehicles will.
With self-driving cars, new laws, and the pending insurance changes, our roads and our choices for transportation are going to see a major alteration within the next few decades. Are you looking forward to self-driving cars? Or are you gazing lovingly at your shifter hoping that autonomous vehicles are further off than predicted?