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Several companies have been working on self-driving cars and even trucks, including Google and Tesla. However, what autonomous vehicles will really mean for the world when they’re finally ready for the general public is something that we need to examine closely. The legal implications of vehicles that are driving themselves and what they will mean in relation to insurance cover are important topics to examine closely.

The development of autonomous cars hasn’t been without accidents, including one fatal incident that led to Uber ending their self-driving car operations in Arizona (although they will continue them elsewhere). Still, many experts predict that we will have fully autonomous vehicles within the next ten years. It’s important to examine what this might mean for insurance cover, maintenance, and for the rules of the road.

The Insurance View
The question of what autonomous vehicles mean for insurance cover is one that needs to be answered before they can be available to the general public. If an autonomous vehicle is in an accident, who is liable? Is it the driver, who wasn’t technically the driver, or perhaps the manufacturer? One of the possibilities is that compulsory insurance could cover product liability. Another option is that manufacturers will self-insure, as Volvo have suggested that they will do. Insurance policies will need to adjust to help with software problems and even issues such as hacking.
Autonomous Vehicle Maintenance
Another essential issue to consider is how autonomous vehicles might be maintained. For example, current standards for vehicle safety don’t include requirements for self-driving cars. They will need to be updated to cover automated systems and ensure they are tested thoroughly. In the UK, the MOT will need to embrace new rules. One of the issues to consider is whether a vehicle with autonomous capabilities would be roadworthy is the autonomous systems weren’t working but the vehicle could still be driven manually.

In terms of actual maintenance and repair, professional vehicle repairers will also have to consider how their jobs might change. New skills could be required to keep up with the software and ensure everything is running smoothly and safely.

Autonomous Vehicles on the Road
Of course, there’s also the issue of how autonomous vehicles and other vehicles around them should behave on the road. The Highway Code will still set out the rules for autonomous vehicles and their drivers, but some changes are likely to be necessary for the future. However, rather than tightening up the rules, it could allow for some to be relaxed. For example, it could be more efficient for autonomous cars to drive much closer together. It’s also important to consider the implications of having both manual and autonomous cars on the road. Everyone isn’t immediately going to have an autonomous car, so we need to consider the interactions between people driving manually and those who are letting their self-driving vehicles do most of the work.

Autonomous vehicles won’t be on the roads for the general public for at least another few years. In the meantime, there are still plenty of practical, legal and ethical questions to answer.

Driverless cars will change many things for drivers, insurers, vehicle maintenance professionals. When software takes over the control of a car, there are a number of issues to consider. Motor insurance is one of the most important factors to consider. If an autonomous vehicle is driving itself, who holds liability in an accident? Although autonomous vehicles won’t be available to the public for another few years, we need to start looking at how they might change insurance policies now. These technical issues should be examined before driverless cars are available on the general market.

Lower Claim Rates

The use of autonomous vehicles could actually reduce the rate of claims for motor vehicles, according to experts. Autonomous systems can be programmed to react faster and smarter than humans if given the right input. For example, autonomous emergency braking. Rather than a sudden availability of entirely autonomous cars, we’re likely to see a slower adaptation of various autonomous elements, with AEB being one of them – all new cars manufactured for the EU must feature AEB. According to Peter Shaw, research chief executive at Thatcham, the technology could save approximately 1,200 lives in the next ten years.

Reduction in Fraud

Fraud causes an increased number of claims and can be difficult to prove. Autonomous technology could help in several ways, including detecting how many passengers are in a vehicle and providing evidence of the causes of an accident. Cameras, sensors and other technology can provide more information for insurers investigating claims, helping them to spot cases of fraud. This could lead to more competitive prices for consumers with cars with autonomous features.

Emergency Response

Automatic emergency response is one of the features that important to pay attention to. ECall must be fitted to all new cars in the EU, meaning that the emergency number will automatically be called in the event of an emergency. Emergency services receive the location of the vehicle and can respond more quickly. Insurers are also using eCall and breakdown calling with connected cars to help their customers. Several insurers provide apps and other technology that utilises information from connected cars to help customers drive better and reduce their insurance costs.

Greater Focus on Product Liability

The future of motor insurance, where driverless cars are concerned, is likely to require a shift more toward the product than the driver. If the car’s software is in charge, we need to rethink liability. The driver will become less important when insurance policies are underwritten, at least during the times that the car is using autonomous features. There will be more focus on the product and the condition it’s in and less on the actions of the driver. When autonomous vehicles do need repairs, insurance companies will also have to take into account that the specialist maintenance could be a lot more expensive – at least, at first.

Motor insurance needs to adjust to accommodate autonomous vehicles, whether they’re fully driverless or have various autonomous features.

The claims process is arguably the single most important task any insurance company has to deal with. This is the ‘make or break’ moment for many customers; the point at which they decide if an insurance company is the right fit for them. Until the point of needing a claim, price is the primary decision by which people will select their insurer, but in the event of a claim, a customer’s personal experience of the process becomes a vital factor.

There are a number of different ways that insurance companies can improve the customer experience of the claims process. By investing in and implementing positive claim management techniques, higher levels of customer satisfaction — and thus higher levels of customer retention — can be achieved.

So, how can the customer experience of insurance claims management be improved?

Understand the potential issues caused by overlooking customer experience

There are a number of factors that should be considered within claims management, and many insurers make the mistake of valuing these areas over the experience of the customer. This can be a serious mistake. As discussed, if a customer is unhappy with the experience they receive, they are likely to discontinue their business with that company— but that can just be the first problem. There is always the chance that unhappy customers may also “spread the word” about the poor service they received. This could mean writing on internet forums, using social media, and broadcasting their anti-your-company message far and wide.

Given the scope available to dissatisfied customers, it is imperative that any insurance company genuinely values the customer experience and puts it at the forefront of the claims process. It is one thing to accept that these issues might happen; it is quite another to see this kind of negative feedback as a genuine threat, and something that must be taken seriously.

Improved communication choices

In the modern world, customers are no longer satisfied with a long wait on hold or a promise of a callback that never comes. They want to receive quick, efficient service from their insurance company at each stage of the claims process.

This means that insurance companies need to implement a variety of different communication options for customers going through a claim; at the very least, social media, email, and telephone options should be available. Companies could also consider self-service portals online, where customers can check the status of their claim without having to contact a representative of the company directly.

Business practice management (BPM) necessities

A key component of effective customer experience management is the integration of this concern into the BPM that a company is using. If a BPM has been well-designed and structured to reflect the needs of customers, then it can help to manage customer interactions and improve customer service as a result.

The key advantage of BMP processes is their ability to monitor and improve the speed and efficiency of a claim from start to finish, which in turn helps to deliver a more seamless experience to the customer.

The advantage of automation

Certain aspects of the claims process can be automated, which can be incredibly beneficial to the customer. What customers want from a claims process above all is speed; a lengthy delay for a claim to be processed is a surefire cause for complaint if it is not addressed. Automating basic tasks in the claims process can allow for processors and adjustors to focus on activities which are able to deliver a better experience to the customer, safe in the knowledge that the claim is able to progress in the background thanks to automation.

Additionally, automation can also assist with improving the customer experience by handling the simplest claims in the most efficient timeframe necessary. Simple claims should not demand the time and attention of specialist workers; instead, BPM platforms and automation should be able to guide basic claims to a conclusion as quickly as possible. Not only is this outcome positive for the customer of the simple claim, but it is also beneficial for customers with more complex claims— as their claims can receive more attention from adjustors, who have more time without the distractions of basic claims.

Final thoughts

The customer experience is an important component of effective claims management, thus it should be at the forefront of considerations when making decisions in this area. However, customer experience is not the only important facet of claims management— cost effectiveness, productivity, and the reduction of claims timescales are also incredibly important. By combining work in these areas with a dedication to improving the customer experience, you should be able to deliver an effective claims management solution that suits both you and you customer base.