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Will Your Computer-Driven Car Of The Future Still Need To Be Insured?

On the roads of Nevada, you could be driving beside a car being driven by a computer. That’s because Nevada was the first state to pass a law allowing those cars to be on the road and thus giving Google the green light to test their prototypes on actual roadways. Other self-driving cars are likely to fill their streets soon because almost every car manufacturer is already working on their version of the technology. In fact, a BMW recently drove itself down the Autobahn in Germany. California is on its way to passing a law that would make self-driving cars legal on its roads while other states, including Hawaii and Arizona, are pondering such legislation.

The idea of these self-driving cars is that computers can take in data more quickly and use it to make decisions without hesitation thus reducing car accidents. Plus, the computer is never distracted by text messages, the radio dial, or the witty conversation of the passenger so accidents cause by driver inattentiveness would also be reduced. If everyone was driving a computer-driven car, accident rates would decline to the point that traditional auto insurance just wouldn’t make sense. Well, at least, that’s the theory. But with technology taking the wheel, does that really mean everyone will have to stop paying those premiums?

The answer is probably not for several reasons. First, most states would be slow to overturn mandatory insurance laws, particularly with pressure from insurance groups to keep them in place. Therefore, even if the coverage did become obsolete it would probably stick around for quite some time.

But it might not even be obsolete. As with any new technology, not everyone adopts it right away. Today people still live in homes without computers, for example. The same will be true for computer-driven cars. Not everyone will be eager to give up their old-fashioned vehicles nor will everyone be able to afford one of the new models right away. Plus, computer-driven cars can also be used in manual mode which means the human can take over the driving at any time. Consequently, driving accidents caused by human error are still going to happen, although maybe not quite as often.

If accident rates do decline significantly, auto insurance companies may simply have to change their focus from collision coverage to protection coverage. After all, a parked car can still be side-swiped, vandalized, or crushed under a tree. Given the amount of technology that has to go into the cars, repairing them won’t be cheap so insurance coverage that focused on comprehensive protection might become increasingly necessary.

Additionally, computers aren’t perfect. They can malfunction. Drivers will still want insurance to protect themselves in case their computer-driven car develops technical problems and ends up causing an accident. Insurance companies in the future may even offer discounts for installing anti-virus software on your car to prevent malicious software from taking the wheel and causing havoc on the highways.

While we don’t know yet when computer-driven cars will be available to the public, we know this technology will be coming to a car lot near us soon. While computer cars probably won’t end auto insurance, they will definitely change it.