What Tier 3 Means for Auto Insurance
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With the Mercedes S-Class and the EQS, there will be cars on the road in the future that can drive themselves, without the driver having to do anything. What does this mean for insurance coverage?
Mercedes-Benz was the first car manufacturer to receive approval for a highly automated driving system (SAE Level 3). It will be available shortly in the S-Class and the EQS. Other manufacturers are likely to follow soon. According to regulations, cars can drive autonomously on highways up to a speed of 60 km/h without the driver having to pay attention to traffic. You just have to be ready to take control of the vehicle again.
But what does that really mean for insurance? The General Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV) has answered the most important questions about insurance coverage for highly automated vehicles.
What does the new system do?
According to Mercedes-Benz, drivers with the “Drive Pilot” system can drive very automatically at a speed of up to 60 km/h in heavy traffic or jams on suitable sections of the motorway in Germany. During this time, the driver is relieved of all driving tasks and, according to the manufacturer, can perform certain secondary activities “on the central screen”, “for example, shopping online or processing emails”. The “Drive Pilot” thus fulfills the requirements of the so-called Level 3 system: The driver can move away from traffic, but must be able to take control of the car and thus take responsibility for driving again.
How is the division of tasks between man and machine regulated?
Drive Pilot is activated by the driver using buttons on the steering wheel. As soon as the system recognizes that it can no longer control the traffic situation, visual, acoustic and tactile signals prompt the driver to take control again. The delivery time should not be too short: studies by the accident investigation department of insurers (UDV) show that distracted drivers need up to 10 seconds to take over and up to 15 seconds to take full control of an accident situation. traffic. “For users of automated driving systems, therefore, it must be clear at all times what the system is doing and to what extent the driver can devote himself to other things,” says GDV Deputy CEO Anja Käfer-Rohrbach. . Therefore, insurers had required that drivers only be allowed to focus on anything other than traffic when a system is so sophisticated that
- the driver rarely has to intervene
- has enough time to react in such cases
- the car stops safely without the help of the driver.
“In terms of road safety, it is to be welcomed that the first highly automated driving system is initially only used in a limited speed range and on motorways, that is, in traffic situations with no oncoming or crossing traffic, no pedestrians and no cyclists. Kafer-Rohrbach says.
Who pays if the system causes an accident?
The degree of automation does not change anything in terms of insurance coverage: “No one has to worry about being worse off than before after an accident with an automated car. Applicable law has a simple and clear answer to the question of who compensates accident victims: That’s what motor vehicle owner’s liability insurance does. In this way, we guarantee the highest level of protection for victims and make a significant contribution to the social acceptance of automated cars,” explains Käfer-Rohrbach.
At the same time, this regulation, of course, is not a carte blanche for car manufacturers or suppliers: “Anyone who introduces defective systems on the market must respond within the framework of the applicable laws. Motor vehicle insurers would examine and enforce corresponding product liability claims,” Käfer-Rohrbach said.
Therefore, the legislator has also provided ways to determine who or what caused the accident after an accident with a highly automated vehicle. “Today, this is usually the driver, but in vehicles with highly automated driving functions, the search for the source of the error is becoming more and more complex,” says Käfer-Rohrbach. The driver could also have made a mistake such as the manufacturer, an IT service provider, a mobile phone provider, a network operator or a card provider. Therefore, vehicles with highly automated functions must have an on-board data memory that records whether the human or the computer was responsible for the driving task in a given situation, where the car was and when, when the control was changed. or the driver was asked to do so. take over or if a driver was asked to take over a technical failure has occurred.
Will automated driving systems like Drive Pilot lead to fewer accidents and less damage?
Traffic jam pilots primarily serve the comfort of the driver. However, the assistance systems on which the function is based, such as emergency braking assistants and lane keeping systems, actually guarantee fewer accidents and more safety on the road, as a GDV study recently showed. . However, assistance systems and automated driving functions are only slowly spreading in the vehicle population and, at the same time, making repairs more expensive. “The bottom line is that the new systems will reduce the number of accidents by 13 to 19 percent by 2040, and compensation paid by motor vehicle insurers by only about 12 percent,” predicts Käfer-Rohrbach. In the reference year of the study, 2019, insurers had settled losses of around 25,000 million euros.