The insurance industry in Pennsylvania and across the country may well feel that it is under existential threat. Self-driving cars are very close to being available to the public, and they bring with them the promise of fewer automobile accidents. Self-driving vehicles have stellar safety characteristics so far, with absolutely no fatality or injury accidents after test-driving for millions of miles. This is good news for every single American who uses the roads, but it poses the possibility of devastation to the insurance industry.
One conservative estimate finds that the automobile insurance industry could shrink by 60 percent by 2040. This is a 220 billion dollar industry, with more than 277,000 people employed in insurance companies and their ancillary businesses, and there is little idea what will happen to them when the consistent source of funding that they were getting from auto liability is gone.
Fortunately for the industry, there will still be a need for auto insurance. All vehicles on the roads of Pennsylvania and the rest of America must carry insurance for the risk that the vehicle might cause in a car crash. Autonomous cars will be no exception to this law. However, the question of how to apply liability becomes more obscure in the matter of self-driving cars.
Autonomous automobile manufacturers have solved this problem by directly carrying the insurance on their vehicles. The cars are both self-driving and self-insured, and if they cause a crash or contribute to one, then it is between the injured parties and the manufacturer. An attorney might be able to aid someone who needs to identify a responsible party and file a civil suit.