A Google self-driving car goes on a test drive (AP Phot... A Google self-driving car goes on a test drive (AP Photo/Eric Risberg).
Who is responsible when a self-driving car is involved in a crash? That question has been on a lot of car insurers minds, and a new study from the RAND corporation shows they have every reason for concern.

The vast majority of car crashes are caused by human error, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is something that can obviously be fixed by driverless cars. But eliminating the human element won't eliminate crashes altogether. When a driverless car simply can't avoid a crash, the question of who (or what) is at fault gets very complicated. The RAND study predicts an increased liability for auto manufacturers, and a decrease in personal liability, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

That would represent a significant loss in revenue for auto insurance companies. According to AAA, insurers could see an average loss of $1,020 a year per insured vehicle.

It seems drivers are ready to make the switch to save money. A study released last year by carinsurance.com found 90 percent of drivers would consider switching to a self-driving car in exchange for a break on the cost of insurance.

Insurance policies in a world of driverless cars will most likely need to focus on the driving record of different makes and models of the car, rather than on that of the driver. Another option is no fault insurance, where the insurer covers damage regardless of who is to blame.



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