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What car insurance might look like for self-driving cars

Fewer accidents could lead to fewer claims, changing insurance as we know it.

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Self driving car on the road
If you own a futuristic car with autopilot or driver assistance, standard car insurance will work fine. However, you can expect major changes in insurance as self-driving features and driverless cars get more popular, including the possibility for safer roads and lower liability.

How will car insurance change for self-driving cars?

Self-driving cars pose interesting unknowns in the face of car insurance because insurers are used to underwriting claims for damage caused by drivers. If you take the driver out of the equation, that significantly changes how claims are made.

Several possible scenarios might happen as a result, based on information gathered by the Insurance Information Institute:

  • Car manufacturers might need more liability. As drivers become less involved in driving, manufacturers may be liable for accidents that are caused by faulty technology.
  • There may be fewer accident claims. Companies testing autopilot features use multiple cameras, GPS and sensors to make driverless features safer, but these features go beyond the abilities of a human driver. If developed enough, they could lead to fewer accidents on the road.
  • There may be fewer payouts for bodily injuries. Newer car models have already shown to reduce accident fatalities, according to a 2015 Institute for Highway Safety study, which may be attributed to added safety features.
  • Repair costs will likely increase. As we’ve seen in technology-laden electric cars, self-driving cars will have more equipment installed that require expensive repairs. However, like in the case of smart TVs, as technology becomes more mainstream, the price is likely to drop.
  • Car make or model could hold more weight. Insurance companies might use your driving record less to determine coverage and your car’s information more, making car manufacturing and buying more competitive.
  • Insurers may offer specialty policies. Traditional insurance companies use hard data about past accidents to determine risk. They may be slow to change that model until specialty self-driving car insurers come on the market.
  • More insurers may use telematics. For companies looking for information on self-driving cars, you could see a rise in telematics-based insurance. This policy is known for cheaper premiums, but that’s based on tracking the driver’s habits. However, telematics could give companies the data they need to provide cheaper policies for self-driving cars.

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What kind of coverage do I need for a self-driving car?

Although self-driving cars may create a unique angle for car insurance, car owners may still need many of the same coverage types. Those include:

  • Property damage liability. You could still be responsible for damage if your self-driving car caused the accident and the manufacturer was not found at fault. For example, a car manufacturer may advertise that its autopilot is meant for use with aid from a human driver. So in the case of an accident, the driver is held responsible.
  • Bodily injury liability. This coverage may work similar to property damage, but both types of liability could cost less over time if fewer accident claims are made.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP). More states could adopt “no-fault” laws, requiring more people to get PIP coverage. In the past, these states have a higher average annual premium around $1,500.
  • Comprehensive. This protection against accidents that don’t involve a collision may decrease with increased safety technology, lowering the likelihood of damage from theft, vandalism, fire or hitting an animal.
  • Collision. Repairing or replacing your car could cost more, which may be offset by the fewer number of accidents.

What add-on coverage should I consider?

You might consider a few add-ons that you may have otherwise skipped, including:

  • Original manufacturer parts. Self-driving car parts could vary widely based on the manufacturer, and you might want original parts for repairs to keep your car in top working order.
  • Roadside assistance. Self-driving cars can still break down, especially with so much advanced technology.
  • Rental reimbursement. You may still want the convenience of a rental if your car is down and out after an accident.
  • Nonowner. As more drivers use ridesharing or car subscriptions, nonowner coverage protects drivers against underinsured drivers or medical bills.

Do different kinds of self-driving cars have different insurance requirements?

For now, cars with self-driving features often receive standard car insurance. However, in the future, it’s possible that coverage for these cars will differ from standard cars and even among different levels of driverless vehicles. How insurance could change with different types of self-driving cars:

Cars with driver assistance.

Right now, many insurers reward cars with these added safety features through discounts.

Semi-autonomous cars.

Drivers who aspire to these cars with autopilot features attest to their exorbitant car insurance rates, which may be because of too little accident data and high car value. But at least one company is developing a special policy just for self-driving cars.

Fully autonomous cars.

Insurance premiums for these cars will likely depend on information gathered from cars at previous levels.

However, if cars with added safety technology truly do decrease accidents, these cars could get the lowest rates of all. That premium might only be offset by the high cost of repairs for their added technology.

How can I get cheap car insurance for a self-driving car?

Insurance companies may need some time to change the way they do business for self-driving cars. Until then, you can save money on your tech-laden car in several ways:

  • Get safety feature discounts. Take advantage of the added safety of your car if you can get discounts on safety features from your provider.
  • Shop driverless car insurance providers. Get quotes from several providers for the best rate. You might even talk with a representative about getting special coverage for your unique car.
  • Say yes to telematics. Whether you’re proving your safety habits with a semi-autonomous car or helping an insurer get data on a fully self-driving vehicle, telematics could lower your premium.
  • Research the cheapest cars to insure. Look up insurance on your car’s make or model to find which one brings the cheapest insurance right now.
  • Remove coverage provided by your warranty. Manufacturers may offer extra coverage along with your warranty, such as roadside assistance, battery or other technology coverage.

How do I get insurance for a self-driving car?

Getting insurance for these cars might be a little tricky since self-driving vehicles aren’t yet mainstream. However, you can start the process in a similar way as other cars:

  1. Research providers that offer coverage for self-driving vehicles. You may need to call some providers to confirm whether this is the case.
  2. For an online quote, enter your ZIP code and personal information, such as your email and phone number.
  3. Enter your car’s details such as make, model or VIN. If prompted, check off safety features your car has, including automatic seatbelts, electronic stability control, daytime running lights or lane departure warning.
  4. Fill in your driver’s license number and accident history, which may be needed even for a fully self-driving car.
  5. Finalize details, select coverage and enter payment information.
  6. To get the best coverage for your car, you can speak to an insurance representative about discounts or a customized policy.

Bottom line

Self-driving cars could change the way car owners drive and get insurance, possibly making the roads safer with fewer accidents. The types of coverage needed might look similar, but they could also involve nuances like higher limits for collision because of expensive car repairs.

Compare car insurance providers who keep up with the times by offering wide coverage for your self-driving vehicle.

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