Saturday, 7 March 2015

Driver-Less Cars

This week, the Wall Street Journal did an outstanding piece on car insurance.  There's a tidal wave coming to car insurance over the next twenty years, and it's going to make the entire industry of car matter what country you live in, or what type of insurance you have currently.....radically change.

You see.....driver-less cars are coming.  Every single insurance company within the US has a team working on this issue.  Frankly, it's disturbing where this is heading in terms of cost and profits (for the industry, not you).

Here's the thing.....the strong belief is that those sensors and onboard computer system....will lessen car accidents....year by year.  As more driver-less cars come.....less accidents (at least in theory).  What happens in twenty years?  You could bundle up a thousand 18-year old kids into one type of policy, who happen to all own a driver-less car, and discover less than three total accidents for the year (snow and ice-related, probably).  The rates for an eighteen year old kid?  It'll be dirt cheap compared to today's rates.

This worries the insurance industry.  They spent years developing the data and know the general accident rate for 40-to-60 year old folks who drive Ford pick-ups.

Of course, there's also a discussion about lawsuits against sensor and computer companies, where accidents do occur and the blame is on them.

This brings me to a curious computer logic situation.  Let's say you bought the $30,000 driver-less car.  It's mid-March and some ice storm arrives.  You crank up the car, and immediately it checks weather reports, and outside status.....then it turns itself off and determines that it is unsafe to proceed.  Will you override the computer?  Will the computer note your insistence and transmit an unsafe-to-drive email to your minister, your insurance company, and maybe even your spouse?

Will the driver-less car also have bad-maintenance feature where it determines you aren't responding to car issues and maintenance it sends another email to your insurance company about your lousy habits?

As much as I'd like to say that driver-less cars are appealing to me.....I'm holding reservations about all the wonderful things that will come.

I realize....some guys with an hour's drive to work could settle back into their seat and do class-work to finish up another degree.....or watch the Today Show.....or simply sleep another hour.

But I suspect as much positive as it might bring.....there's some bold negatives about driver-less cars.