This week saw the UK government introduce the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, which largely replaces the main sections of what was previously Parts 1 and 2 of the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill.
Crucially, the new bill keeps the proposed “single insurer model” under which drivers will buy an automated vehicle policy covering accidents regardless of whether or not the car was being controlled by the human driver or the autonomous system at the time. This was the preferred model of the insurance industry as it offers drivers and other road-users the greatest insurance certainty and the most efficient route for liability recovery.
The statutory definition of “automated vehicle” will be determined by reference to a designated list to be maintained by the Secretary of State. However as, under this Bill, the vehicle is only considered to be “driving itself” when it is “operating in a mode in which it is not being controlled, and does not need to be monitored, by an individual” it is likely that the Bill is confined in practice to dealing with what the CAV industry would understand to be Level 4 or above autonomous vehicles.
James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said: “Insurers wholeheartedly support the development of automated vehicles, as they have the potential to significantly reduce the large number of road accidents caused by driver error.
“We support the approach the government has taken in the bill, as this will give the industry time to prepare for the commercial rollout of fully automated driving technology.”