’Ultimately, how data is accessed and used needs to be open and transparent,’ says underwriting director

Insurance experts have stressed that a new legal framework for self-driving cars needs to address data access following a crash.

The Automated Vehicles Bill was announced in the King’s Speech yesterday (7 November 2023) and has been designed to provide the private sector with the certainty and confidence it needs to research and develop the technology.

As part of this, the government provided clarity over how liability would be established should a self-driving vehicle be involved in an accident.

For example, non-driving responsibilities will still remain with that person, such as maintaining appropriate insurance and ensuring proper loading.

However, when a vehicle is driving itself, a company rather than an individual will be responsible for the way it drives.

This means that people will have immunity from prosecution when a car is driving itself.

While this provides a clear guide for insurers following an incident, Niall Edwards, motor insurance specialist and partner at Kennedys, said it was also essential that the legislation addressed data access.

“Ready access to such data is crucial, not only for insurers but also the police in determining where liability lies in the event of a crash,” he explained.

And Alexandra Wyard, underwriting director at Allianz Personal, felt that swift delivery of unbiased information following an incident was “crucial” to insurers, law enforcement and the road users they work on behalf of.

“We believe this should be held independently and made available to relevant parties where appropriate,” she added.

“Ultimately, how data is accessed and used needs to be open and transparent and drivers need to feel confident with how their data is being managed.”


Despite the warning, the new bill has been welcomed, with Axa’s UK and Ireland chief executive Tara Foley highlighting that there were “multiple benefits” for road safety.

The government pledged the framework would deliver a comprehensive set of laws that have “safety at its core”.

“With 88% of accidents currently involving human error, the potential for automated vehicles to reduce costs, injuries and fatalities is enormous,” it added.

Foley said her firm had been calling on the government to introduce such legislation and “welcomed the government’s commitment to support this exciting technological advance”.

“Introducing a regulatory framework for self-driving has huge potential to save lives,” she added.

“Research shows that 88% of road collisions involve an element of human error which would be eliminated with self-driving vehicles.

“In addition, huge savings could be made on medical and ambulance services related to road crashes that cost the NHS £2.3bn last year.

“Axa looks forward to working with government to ensure that safety is at the heart of the new legislation.”

Wyard agreed, adding that the introduction of automated vehicles in the UK “will provide an exciting opportunity to continue the evolution of vehicle technology”.

“This, in turn, will help increase road safety for all users,” she added.

“Given the significant changes ahead with the introduction of automated vehicles on the UK’s roads, it is essential that there is a joined-up and collaborative approach across all levels of government and the different sectors involved.”


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