Japanese insurers are preparing to cover self-driving vehicles, helping to pave the way for these next-generation cars to hit the streets.
Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance, Sompo Holdings unit Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance and two MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings units—Mitsui Sumitomo and Aioi Nissay Dowa— intend to handle collisions between self-driving vehicles and pedestrians under various optional automobile policies, reports Nikkei Asian Review.
These policies are tapped if the payout from a vehicle owner's mandated insurance proves insufficient to compensate accident victims and their families. Optional policies also will deal with property damage—something mandatory policies do not require— resulting from self-driving vehicles.
The collisions in question involve "level three" automated driving, in which a person takes control of a vehicle only in emergencies. This level-three technology is expected to reach the Japanese market during the next decade. The government, which devised plans at the end of March to have the necessary laws and regulations in place by 2025, has determined that the owner of an automated vehicle should bear civil responsibility for collisions.
Insurers have inserted automated-driving provisions into popular offerings at no extra cost, hoping to "create an environment where, even in the case of accidents involving automated cars, mandatory and optional insurance plans put relief for victims first," said Mr Toshifumi Kitazawa, president of Tokio Marine Holdings, the parent of Tokio Marine & Nichido.