The British government has launched a nine week nationwide consultation to alter insurance law so that, in the future, motorists who have handed control to their automated (self-driving) vehicles can be insured properly.

The proposed changes to insurance will be brought forward in the Modern Transport Bill. Motor insurance will remain compulsory but will be extended to cover product liability for automated vehicles.

Association of British Insurers (ABI) general insurance policy director James Dalton said: “The ABI’s Automated Driving Insurer Group has been engaged in constructive and productive discussions with the DfT for many months now so it is good to see the importance of insurance to the vehicles of the future recognised within this consultation.

“The development of automated driving will revolutionise motoring, potentially as important a road safety innovation as the seatbelt. Insurers strongly support the Government’s ambition of making the UK a world leader in this technology and believe the insurance industry has a key role in helping give consumers confidence in using these vehicles when they become more widely available.”

The driver’s insurer will still pay out in the normal way so road accident victims are promptly reimbursed, but the insurer will then be able to claim the money back from the car company if the vehicle is deemed to be at fault.

In addition, the Highway code and regulations will be changed to support the safe use of remote control parking and motorway assist features. Building on the first £20m awarded to a number of projects in February, the government will launch a competition for a further £30m from the Intelligent Mobility Fund, for research and development of innovative connected and autonomous vehicle technologies in August 2016.

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