June 2, 2016

For some time now motor insurers have been completely at a loss to understand what impact the seemingly inevitable triumph of driverless cars will have on the market they know and love.

It’s not like they haven’t been thinking about it. Far from it. They’ve puzzled and puzzled, and puzzled some more. But, frankly, they’re still a bit stumped.

Luckily, Roads Minister Andy Jones (no relation, thankfully) stepped in this week to explain all. Speaking, for some unspecified reason best known to himself in Milton Keynes (somebody’s got to do it, Bankstone News supposes), Jones gave insurers the benefit of his positively Solomonic wisdom on the topic.

And it turns out there’s really nothing to worry about!

Sure “much of the data on which insurance is priced and sold will steadily become obsolete’” Jones conceded. And, yes, if you really insist, “in the event of a serious collision when in driverless mode, it would be the vehicle at fault, instead of the human driver.”

But – hey – should we really waste time worrying over a few such trifles? Dismissing those who claim driverless vehicles could render traditional motor insurance obsolete as “excitable commentators”, Jones concluded soothingly that such gloomy prognostications are “a lot of pie in the sky.”

How does he know this? Quite simply because he’s about to get a law passed that makes it so.

Anyone paying close attention to the Queer’s Speech with which the most recent session of Parliament opened will no doubt recall that HMG’s plans for ensuring there’s some sort of insurance cover for the inevitable prang-wave as experimental driverless vehicles are let loose on Britain’s roads involve extending compulsory motor insurance to cover product liability (the financial impact of which insurers can then attempt to claim back from manufacturers – or whoever it is whose fault it turns out to be when things go wrong and motorists aren’t doing all the driving).

So, any chattering fools who try to tell you that the writing’s on the wall for the motor insurance market need to jolly well pipe down. That’s just, to reiterate, a load of old pie in the sky. “At least,” the Roads Minister qualifies, mildly, “for the foreseeable future.”

So if you’re feeling the chill wind of white hot technology breathing down the neck of your favourite insurance flavour, chin up, try not to do too much foreseeing, and take a more positive view. Try to be more like ‘Jones the Roads’, who prefers to see driverless vehicles as enablers of “a rare window of opportunity” on the sunlit sill of which to develop “new products, new partnerships and new approaches.”

See how much better that feels?

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