The Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 passed through Parliament on 19 July 2018.

The Act makes provision for the improvement of electric charging infrastructure, upgrading of motorway services in light of the anticipated rise of electric vehicles and it clarifies the insurance rules around self-driving vehicles. 

How to identify a self-driving car?

The Secretary of State must prepare, and keep up to date, a list of all motor vehicles that are designed or adapted to be capable, in at least some circumstances or situations, of safely driving themselves, and which may be lawfully used on the roads in Great Britain.

What are the rules around insurance for self-driving vehicles?

The Act extends compulsory motor insurance to the automated vehicle as well as the driver. That means where an accident is caused by an automated vehicle when driving itself, the insurer would be liable for the damage. And "damage" in this context includes death or personal injury, and in most cases, any damage to property as a result of the accident (excluding any damage to the automated vehicle). By implication this would not only cover third parties involved in the accident but also the insured owner of the automated vehicle. The insurer would then have to claim from the manufacturer or the driver responsible for the accident. 

However, there are limits on the liability of insurers. For example, an insurer is not liable in the following circumstances:

  • Where the accident was caused wholly due to the person’s negligence in allowing the automated vehicle to begin driving itself when it was not appropriate to do so;  
  • Software alterations where made that were not allowed by the insurance policy; or 
  • A failure to install safety-critical software. 

Where an accident is caused by an uninsured automated vehicle, the owner of the vehicle will usually be liable for any damage.    

This Part 1 of the Act that deals with insurance only applies to England, Wales and Scotland. 

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