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The Question of Liability in Autonomous Vehicle Crashes

Despite the ongoing development of autonomous vehicles, and the push to get autonomous vehicles on the road, there are still many questions about who can be held liable in the event of an accident. For example, while a consumer safety group believes that automakers should assume responsibility, automakers have argued that the issue is covered by state insurance laws determining liability. According to representatives for the Safe Autonomous Vehicles (“SAVe”) Campaign, the Campaign has reached out to executives from Audi, BMW, Daimler, Fiat, Ford, GM, Honda, Land Rover, Lyft, Nissan, Porsche,...
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Car Data Transmitters Pose Cybersecurity Risks

Argus Cyber Security Ltd., an Israeli cyber security firm,  recently announced that it had succeeded in using a dongle, a device that many insurance companies install in vehicles to track policyholders’ driving behaviors, to gain access to a  vehicle’s internal communication system. The announcement further raises concerns about the ability of hackers to take control of moving cars. Access to vehicles’ internal communication systems,  could potentially allow hackers to shut down an engine remotely by using a smartphone app, a Bluetooth connection and a dongle. Argus Cyber’s...
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Big Brother Is… Underwriting?

Speakers at the Casualty Actuarial Society’s Ratemaking and Product Management Workshop recently commented that as the internet of things spreads and encompasses devices in vehicles and homes, underwriters for personal lines insurance companies must begin to take into account “exposure data tracking.” With respect to auto insurance, carriers now have access to sensors that can track speed, braking, turning, traffic, weather, and other factors. This information could allow insurers to monitor risks in real time, rather than having to rely on estimates and trends. As fully autonomous vehicles...
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How Patchwork State Regulations Could Benefit Driverless Cars

Several states have taken legislative, regulatory, or executive action to address the prospect of driverless vehicles. Although a “patchwork of regulations” that vary from state to state will be unsustainable in the long run, there may be benefits to the “laboratories of democracy” in the short term. As autonomous vehicle technology develops, different states will choose to balance safety and innovation differently, which will allow manufacturers, developers, consumers, and insurers to determine the most viable pathway...
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Georgia Passes Legislation Allowing Autonomous Vehicles on the Road

In its recently-concluded legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly passed a bill that would allow autonomous vehicles on the road. The law exempts driverless vehicles from the requirement to be operated by a licensed driver as long as the vehicle is fully autonomous and the automated driving system is engaged; indeed, under the new law, such vehicles may be operated on the roads without a human driver in the vehicle at all. However, the bill also requires that, at least for the present, the minimum liability insurance coverage for driverless vehicles be 250% of the minimum limits...
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Concerns About Losses in the Auto Insurance Market

According to a recent Fitch Ratings report, the auto insurance industry experienced significant losses last year that outpaced premium increases. Although some carriers were able to make a profit in the personal auto segment, an increase in insurers’ average combined ratios indicate that the overall market is weakening. Losses may be increasing due to an increase in miles driven, the dangers of distracted driving, and the increasing cost of replacing complex safety features, among other things.
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After Crash, Uber Suspends Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program

Uber has suspended its pilot program for autonomous vehicles after a crash in Tempe, Arizona. At the time of the crash, the car was in self-driving mode, though there was a human driver behind the wheel. The SUV was hit when another vehicle failed to yield, leaving the SUV on its side. Pending an investigation into the crash, Uber’s self-driving program has been suspended in Arizona, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. With the crash, safety concerns for autonomous vehicles are once again at the forefront of the debate. Although Uber has been aggressively pursuing testing with passengers,...
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American Workers Most Likely To Be Replaced by AI

A recent report by PwC puts U.S. workers at the highest risk of being replaced by artificial intelligence over the next 15 years. The report–which covered the U.S., the UK, Germany, and Japan–determined that the risk of replacement affects 38% of U.S. jobs, compared to only 35% of German jobs, 30% of UK jobs, and 21% of Japanese Jobs. According to the report, it is the nature of work done that is creating the higher risk for American jobs. For example, in the financial services sector, many U.S. workers are focused on small-scale domestic retail operations. Many UK workers, by...
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Colorado Senate Passes Autonomous Vehicle Bill

The Colorado Senate has passed a bill establishing a general framework for autonomous vehicle regulation.  The draft legislation, Senate Bill 213, requires driverless vehicles to be “capable of complying with every state and federal law” applicable to the vehicle.  Non-compliant vehicles must coordinate testing with the Colorado Department of Transportation and State Patrol. Opponents of the bill criticized it as lightweight, as there are currently no state and federal laws in existence to which the driverless vehicle must comply. They also note the omission of National Highway...
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Test Driving Mobileye’s Autonomous Vehicle

Mobileye, an Israeli tech company, is one of the leading companies in developing autonomous vehicles and was recently purchased by Intel for $15 billion. It provides Advanced Assistance Systems for two dozen international automobile manufacturers, and has its own prototype. This prototype, which is not fully self-driving, has eight cameras and an interior filled with laptop, satellite receivers, and other high-tech devices. In a test drive with a Washington Post journalist, the prototype drove at 50 mph on highways—accelerating, braking, and changing lanes. According to Mobileye’s CEO Ziv...
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Trump Signals Rollback on EPA Vehicle Regulations

The Trump administration, in conjunction with new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, is expected to begin dismantling regulations on vehicle pollution and other policies related to global warming. Specifically, the administration is expected to rollback regulations governing tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions and to revoke California’s waiver to enforce even stricter tailpipe standards. These policy changes come after a coalition of 17 US auto companies told the administration in two letters to Pruitt that standards under the Obama administration were too technical, burdensome, and costly....
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Tesla Considering All-Inclusive Packages

Tesla is now contemplating an all-inclusive package, wherein the price of the car would include insurance and maintenance during the duration of ownership. In fact, Tesla’s Asian customers are offered a package that already covers certain car ownership expenses. Those packages include a customized insurance product that covers Autopilot and maintenance costs. The deals do not exclude insurers—for now, Tesla is looking at external insurance companies to provide the...
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DOT Designates 10 Driverless Car Testing Sites

The U.S. Department of Transportation has designated ten “proving grounds” to encourage the safe testing of driverless vehicles. These testing areas, which were chosen from a pool of more than sixty applicants, encompass a diverse geographic area, ranging from Pittsburgh to San Diego.  The groups operating the sites will collaborate on best practices for the safe testing and operation of autonomous vehicles.
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Britain Proposes New Framework Autonomous Vehicle Insurance

The British government has announced that it will consider new regulations to guarantee victims of accidents involving self-driving cars timely compensation in an effort to clear one of the largest obstacles to automated driving technology. Regulators and insurers have grappled with how to determine the ultimate liability for accidents, slowing the roll out of the technology. In an effort to address this issue, Britain will introduce a framework for insurance geared towards the new technology, likely in the form of a single insurance product that will provide coverage for a driver when a...
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