According to Zrimsek: “Without [further] guidance from regulators, it is unclear what the way forward will look like and uncertainty is bad for the insurance industry. We don’t know how to change our rates or coverage to meet the needs of what’s happening. »
Zrimsek says manufacturers and regulators should work to ensure that road users and people driving autonomous vehicles have “some kind of education” about vehicle operation and responsibility, especially while there is a gap between fully autonomous vehicles and those that require user input, such as Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) vehicles.
Read more: Is it time for autonomous vehicles to take the wheel?
Level two vehicles provide continuous assistance for acceleration, braking and steering, but the driver must remain “fully engaged and attentive”. This is the highest level of autonomy currently available to the general automotive public.
As vehicles stray into level three territory, where they can actively perform driving tasks while the driver remains free to take over, the driver “must be available” to take over all aspects of driving.
At level four, or “high automation,” the system handles driving in limited-service areas where a human driver is not needed to operate it.
It is only when a vehicle reaches level five, or full automation, that a human driver is no longer needed at all to operate the vehicle.
As vehicles become more and more high-tech and increase the scale of range, there is greater room for confusion for the public – and although level two is the highest level than a typical consumer might expect to get behind the wheel, in the commercial world things have moved at a different pace.
In shipping and e-commerce, self-driving heavy trucks and highway tractors have been mooted as a solution to driver shortages and to cut costs. The market for self-driving trucks is expected to grow from $460 million in 2024 to $1.55 billion by 2030, according to a study by Markets and Markets, and these are already on the road in pilot projects in some states .
Garage specialist Zrimsek has predicted that more automated vehicles will soon start arriving in outdoor or non-manufacturer repair shops.
In “as soon as the next few years,” the vehicles could also reach traditional used-car dealerships, Zrimsek said.
This, Zrimsek said, poses a potential problem. The Colony Specialty vice president said the carrier has spoken with local auto repair shops that don’t yet have access to automated vehicle systems training.
“[Repairers] need to ensure they have the proper training to be able to repair, replace and repair these systems – otherwise they could void warranties or cause more losses,” Zrimsek said.
According to Zrimsek, it’s not a case of repairmen not wanting to upgrade, but rather that training isn’t always available.
“I understand these systems are expensive,” Zrimsek said. “And the cost to repair or replace is unknown.”
From the perspective of insurers, it is important that OEMs are not able to cannibalize the repair market with new technology.
“We want to see a competitive repair market, we don’t necessarily want that to be entirely captured by manufacturers,” said Bob Passmore, vice president of the department, personal insurance, American Property Casualty Insurance Association.
Read more: Insurance industry in the driver’s seat as federal regulations on self-driving cars advance
The “complexity” of repairs has increased with the more advanced technology in cars today, according to Passmore.
“His [no longer] a piece of glass and a piece of glass, or a closed fender and an open fender, you must ensure that all sensors and cameras, all bells and whistles that the vehicle has to help you avoid collisions always work before and after,” Passmore said.
“And that makes it a bit more expensive.”
The average cost of tickets has increased 50% over the past few years, according to Brandon Mehdizadeh, Director of Collision Operations Divisions for the Automotive Service Association and General Manager of LaMettry’s Collision.
“We do a lot of OEM certification repairs – domestic, European, Korean, Japanese,” Mehdizadeh said.
According to Mehdizadeh, “everyone” is now looking to install ADAS in new cars, it leads to a “more expensive” repair process. However, the ASA collision manager was confident that at least some repairers could access relevant training material and had begun to develop their skills.
“Those who are familiar with some of the electric cars and the latest technology that fixes them can access the information,” Mehdizadeh said. “And it’s not that hard to access it and get it.”
Mehdizadeh described the repairer landscape as a “kind of paid segment”, with those who have network links and communication with OEMs better able “to get information fairly quickly”.
Training and skills are changing, Mehdizadeh said, as body shops become more “technically advanced”.
“The new generations arriving […] tend to be more tech-savvy, so it’s a good situation and a good change to make,” Mehdizadeh said. “But stores that are starting from scratch and not really doing the research or having the funds to pay for access, equipment and tooling, yes, there will be a challenge.”