The National Transport Commission (NTC) has suggested extending the state-backed motor accident injury insurance (MAII) schemes to driverless cars to ensure that people injured in autonomous cars are not left in limbo – a proposal opposed by the Insurance Commission of WA (ICWA).
Under the NTC’s plan, state governments would provide compensation to passengers of autonomous cars injured in crashes and seek to recover those costs from the manufacturers of the vehicles.
ICWA refused to support amendments to MAII schemes to provide cover for injuries caused by automated driving systems (ADS), saying the schemes were designed for covering the specific risk of human-driver negligence causing injury, and not for insuring vehicle-manufacturer negligence and product-liability risks.
It also warned against allowing private companies to self-certify the safety of their cars as it could incentivise them to take risks in order to secure a share of the automated vehicle market.
“Amendments to expand (motor accident injury insurance) schemes to cover injuries caused by an ADS would potentially have motorists providing an unquantified subsidy to multinational vehicle and technology companies,” ICWA said in a submission to NTC. “The insurance commission favours the principle that vehicle manufacturers and the companies that introduce technology on Australian roads should be responsible for the performance of the technology and the cost of personal injury if those products fail.”
The NTC acknowledged that state insurers may not recover the costs of payouts under its proposed plan.
“Although insurers would have rights of recovery against manufacturers or ADSEs [automated driving system entities], it is likely that ADS crashes will be more complex to establish in negligence and product liability, with the risk that costs would not be recovered,” NTC said.