The meeting on driverless cars and legal expenses insurance followed the announcement by Chancellor George Osborne in his March budget statement that the UK would become a “centre of excellence” for driverless cars.
It also followed the launch of a major consultation on the use of autonomous cars by the Department for Transport on Monday, which provided a framework whereby automated vehicles can be insured for use on the roads.
Dan Freedman, director of motor development, Direct Line Group, said at the meeting: “Autonomous vehicles could be transformative for society in general, but it’s going to be a gradual change that the insurance industry will have to deal with, and normal cars will still be on the roads for a very long time.
“We see autonomous vehicles as part of a much wider range of technology disruptors, including telematics. It will fundamentally change the role we play as insurers.”
Ian Kemp, underwriting product director, commercial motor, RSA, said: “We see huge benefits not only for insurers but for consumers and society as well. In the short term we will see the risk of things like cyber crime. So there are negatives but they’re outweighed by the positives. It’s a great time to be in the business, it’s really exciting.”
David Williams, technical director, AXA Insurance, said: “Axa’s interest in autonomous vehicles seems a natural one. 93% of road accidents are caused by human error, so obviously [with driverless cars] we will see a massive drop in that. We want to encourage safer roads, but also we see this as the future. Things like emergency breaking, which will only be a small component of autonomous vehicles, are already bringing accidents down.
“Part of our role is to disseminate the positive message. We need appropriate regulation, and from what I can see that’s what’s planned.”