Innovative Technology & Insurance ClaimsPosted July 25, 2016
By now, most have heard about “self-driving technology” and the innovation it promises to offer us. However, a recent fatality involving one of the Tesla autopilot vehicles has many not only questioning the safety of this new technology but also asking about the related insurance claims, as well; specifically, is technology moving too fast for the protection the insurance companies are supposed to provide us with?
At times, the confidence in these innovative vehicles has seemed boundless; so much so that many behind the technology didn’t appear to be very concerned with the fact that the technology was way out ahead of federal highway regulations, which were not yet updated to incorporate these new systems. Specifically, why was a feature that was still in test mode (i.e. the autopilot feature at the heart of the recent fatality) made available to car owners when it was really still part of an experimental phase? Has there ever been any technology before this that was delivered to the public before being tested extensively? According to experts, the answer is: no.
Questions Surrounding Accident Fatality
Now there is a federal investigation underway and questions are being asked; specifically, why did the company behind the technology keep the details of the fatal accident so quiet for months (until regulators officially announced an inquiry)? And why have vehicle owners still not been warned about the dangers of the autopilot feature, in spite of this accident? No one yet knows whether the accident was the result of a defect in the self-driving system itself or the result of the driver using it incorrectly.
What about Insurance Claims?
And perhaps of even more concern is that these advances have been moving too quickly for them to be factored into auto premiums, providing some serious questions about how, exactly, coverage of these cars works for those paying the premiums. According to the insurance companies, because of how fast the technology is moving, coverage of these cars essentially looks the same as coverage for any other car that does not possess the technology; in other words, the insurer for the driver at fault pays for any injuries/damages up to the policy’s limits.
But how does this work if it’s still difficult to figure out whether it was the software or the driver him or herself at fault, as is the case with the Tesla fatality? Traditionally, where there are questions of fault, the insurer pays the claim and can then potentially subrogate, or file a claim against someone else or another company, such as the company who made the software (if it is ultimately responsible for the accident).
The Future & Legal Representation
While individuals driving these autopilot cars must still follow state law regarding minimum liability coverage for their vehicle, the tricky aspect is that the insurance company may not realize what exactly they are covering. It thus remains to be seen how self-driving systems will impact insurance policies and claims. It may prove to be more challenging than other updates simply because software itself is continuously being updated. In the meantime and while these issues over worked out over the years, those involved in the claims process may seek information from the more underutilized sources, such as the use of black-box recorders.
Contact Our Firm For Help
As technology changes, it is likely that insurance claims will also be changing, and alongside it, liability evolving. If you have an injury and/or insurance claim that you need legal assistance with, contact our Oklahoma attorneys today for a free consultation.