Britain Will Require Self-Driving Cars to Have Special Insurance

The special policies have to be able to cover the driver both when he or she is controlling the car, and when the computers are running the show. 

Driverless car photo-call in England
Anadolu Agency—Getty Images

A new bill published Wednesday by the British government outlines new insurance requirements for self-driving cars.

The bill requires self-driving car operators to have insurance that can provide coverage both when a human is controlling the vehicle and when the car is driving itself. 

England's secretary of state will have the power to deem a car self-driving, and thus require its operators to carry the new insurance.  

"Automated vehicles have the potential to transform our roads in the future and make them even safer and easier to use, as well as promising new mobility for those who cannot drive," said transport secretary Chris Grayling in a press release Wednesday. "But we must ensure the public is protected in the event of an incident and today we are introducing the framework to allow insurance for these new technologies."

The government said that the only way insurance companies could back out of paying out for accident damage in an autonomous car accident would be if the self-driving car involved had aftermarket software modifications, or if its systems weren't up to date.

The legislation also includes a push to improve infrastructure for electric cars. 

"If we are to accelerate the use of electric vehicles we must take action now and be ready to take more action later," said Minister of State for Transport John Hayes. "I recognise that to encourage more drivers to go electric, the infrastructure needs to become even more widespread than the 11,000 charging points already in place and more straightforward. We are determined to do all we can to make electric vehicles work for everyone and these new laws will help make this a reality."