Moving to fully autonomous vehicles will be “very messy” says IBC chief

Published: April 24, 2019

Updated: June 3, 2019

Author: Luke Jones

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Autonomous vehicles are inevitably, according to many tech experts. However, while we already have cars with some self-driving capabilities, the step towards fully autonomy will “be very messy”, according to the chief of the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

Don Forgeron, president and CEO of the IBC, said in a recent paper that transitioning to vehicles that need zero human input to function will be a significant step. His opinions were detailed in a report titled “Auto Insurance for Automated Vehicles: Preparing for the Future of Mobility”.

“One of the things we’ve been focused on in Canada is establishing an insurance framework for autonomous vehicles,” said Forgeron. “Regardless of whether a vehicle is being driven autonomously or by a human, the focus is on making sure that those who are injured get the treatment they need, and they get it as quickly as possible.”

Forgeron also addressed liability concerns, stating issues will arise as the insurance industry pushes liability onto products. However, he says those are industry worries that can be handled once customers are already taken care of in terms of bodily injury coverage.

The levels of autonomy in vehicles are as follows:

• SAE Level 0 – human does everything, like current cars
• SAE Level 1 – some in-car systems can aid the human in the operation of the vehicle
• Level 2 – the autonomous tech can complete some driving tasks, but human monitoring is needed.
• SAE Level 3 – the system conducts some driving and monitors some of the environment, but human must be ready as backup
• SAE Level 4 – the system can conduct driving tasks without any input from humans. However, the system only works under some conditions. This is where the current market is.
• SAE Level 5 is when the car can perform all tasks without the need for a human driver.

Forgeron believes if autonomous vehicles live up to their promises, they could see auto insurance premiums significantly decrease. Fully autonomous cars will theoretically make our roads safer as over 95% of all collisions are caused by human error. Specifically, in Canada, vehicles are rated on the country’s CLEAR (Canadian Loss Experience Automobile Rating) system.

Under CLEAR, companies’ base ratings on actual loss vehicles instead of the value of the car. If vehicles with autonomous features become more safe, CLEAR ratings should drop and consumers can gain the benefits.