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Drivers fear driverless cars will drive up insurance

18th May 2016 Print

More than seven out of 10 motorists fear the launch of driverless cars will force up the cost of motor insurance – with more than one in three worried premiums will rise substantially, new research from insurance market research experts Consumer Intelligence shows.

Legislation to allow driverless cars to be included in standard insurance policies was included in the Queen’s Speech today raising the prospect of self-driving cars on UK roads by 2020.

The insurance industry is working to smooth the way with 13 major insurers organised by the Association of British Insurers focused on tackling the industry issues raised by self-driving cars.

But Consumer Intelligence research highlights they have a battle to convince motorists – 71% questioned yesterday said they believe insurance premiums will rise as a result.

And 35% are convinced insurance costs – which are already accelerating – will rise substantially to pave the way for driverless cars. Motorists aged under-18 are slightly less concerned about the impact on insurance – but still 65% of them believe rates will rise.

Insurance industry data shows 94% of motor accidents are caused by human error which implies that rates should fall and long-term predictions are that premiums could be cut by as much as 80% over 25 years.

Ian Hughes, Chief Executive of Consumer Intelligence said: “Driverless cars sound like science fiction but will be a reality on UK roads within four to five years.

“Motorists are definitely not convinced yet of the benefits at least in terms of the impact on insurance prices despite the reassurance from the industry that human error is the main cause of accidents.

“With more than seven out of 10 people convinced driverless cars are going to cost them more on insurance there is a job to do on selling the benefits.”

The insurance industry has identified issues including who would be held responsible in the event of an accident – drivers, manufacturers, system developers, car dealers or maintenance firms.

The industry is also looking at whether new road laws are needed and how to deal with vehicles with different levels of automation and how data is recorded.

Car insurance price rises have already risen 13% in the past year to around £683, Consumer Intelligence data shows.