U.K. firm to offer insurance for autonomous cars


Volvo Drive Me autonomous car pilot project in Gothenburg, Sweden

Volvo Drive Me autonomous car pilot project in Gothenburg, Sweden

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Driverless cars aren't yet ready for consumers, but a British firm has already stepped in to cover one potential hurdle: Insuring the vehicles.

British insurance underwriter Adrian Flux says it will offer what it believes to be the first policy to cover autonomous cars. Interestingly, since those vehicles take driver error out of the picture, the insurer says that policies will be slightly less expensive than for non-autonomous cars. 

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The policy will cover an accident where the car's driver should have manually overridden an autonomous system that has experienced a mechanical failure, a previously gray area open for interpretation since mechanical and software malfunctions can be difficult to distinguish after a wreck. Additionally, the policy will allow for a 24-hour grace period if an update is ready for an autonomous system but has not been installed yet on the vehicle. If an accident occurs that should have been covered by the update, Adrian Flux will cover it, but only for a limited time. 

Adrian Flux's announcement may pave the way for other insurers, and it takes some of the pressure off of automakers who have previously announced that they would shoulder the burden and accept liability for wrecks in autonomous cars. 

Autonomous cars are still years away from be offered in showrooms, but Volvo has said it plans to offer consumers in certain markets a vehicle fully capable of driverless motoring by 2020.

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