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The Automated and Electronic Vehicles Bill

04 July 2017. Published by Richard Breavington, Partner and Jonathan Charwat, Partner

The Automated and Electronic Vehicles Bill was announced during the Queen's Speech and is intended to put the UK at the forefront of the driverless car market, estimated to be worth £28bn by 2035.

In May 2015 we blogged on the Government's efforts for the UK to lead the way in driverless technology by investing in four driverless car schemes.


The Queen's Speech on 21 June 2017, continuing in this vein, announced the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill. The Bill seeks to cement the UK as a research and development hub for modern transport technologies and a world-class infrastructure providing automated vehicles to a mass market of consumers - official research indicates that the market will be worth an estimated £28bn by 2035.


Following a Department for Transport consultation last year on the issue of self-driving car insurance, the Government earlier this year proposed to extend compulsory motor (under Part VI of the Road Traffic Act 1988) to include the use of automated vehicles, and establish a single insurer model, where an insurer covers both the driver's use of the vehicle and the automated vehicle technology.


Where an insured autonomous vehicle has caused an accident, the insurer will be liable for the loss caused by the accident. Cover can be excluded under the insurance policy only where the vehicle owner has neglected to install a necessary policy update or made unauthorised changes to the car’s software.


Implementation of the Bill remains in its infancy as there are consultations on the specifics of the regulatory framework and the ambit of vehicles classified as "automated" will be a matter for the Secretary of State to determine.


However the proposed single insurance policy is considered to be the most effective way to support a functioning market for automated vehicles which ensures that innocent victims of an automated vehicle collision receive compensation quickly, fairly and easily, whilst allowing flexibility for the insurance industry to decide which insurance products they wish to offer.