Matthew Thomas, Strategy and Planning Director for Ageas said today: “We’re seeing major progress being made in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Automated Vehicle Technology (AVT). These are taking place even faster than many expected and government action is needed to these being brought in safely.

It’s vital that consumers understand the difference between various new technologies and what they’re capable of doing to ensure they protect themselves and other road users. ADAS technologies require drivers to be ready to take full control of the vehicle. Some of these are already on the market and more will be available soon. AVT technologies will allow drivers to leave the vehicle in charge and are not available yet, although could be ready within five years.

It’s also essential that the regulatory framework for these developments fully protects road users and therefore, as a leading motor insurer in the UK where we insure 4 million personal motor policies, we’ve responded to the government’s consultation and contributed to the industry position outlined in the joint ABI-Thatcham response.

Ageas agrees with the ABI that product liability insurance is not suitable for ADAS or AVT. Instead, a universal system of strict liability should be introduced. This would ensure that drivers are protected if they’re involved in accidents - whether it’s their fault, the technology, or liability cannot be determined. Strict liability would be suitable for all new technologies being developed and is similar to the system used across continental Europe. 

There are advantages to bringing in strict liability across all motor insurance products and it would be beneficial to make this change now, especially as the technology is developing so quickly and it can take time to bring in legislation. If it’s too challenging to introduce strict liability across the board then, as a minimum, it should be used by all ‘automated’ vehicles, whether or not they’re in automated mode. If the UK is to remain at the forefront of vehicle development and take advantage of the huge benefits that driverless technology could potentially bring, it must not unintentionally create regulatory barriers.

Other road rules, such as the Highway Code, should stay as they are until they can reflect the behavioural changes Automated Driving will allow.”