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  • How will car insurance operate when there’s no one operating the car?

  • You may have noticed, there’s a big motor race on at the moment. It doesn’t feature the likes of Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel. In fact, it doesn’t feature any drivers at all.

    There are a lot of companies currently competing to develop driverless cars for the road – and at AXA, we’re heavily involved with the process. As well as working with four separate projects in the UK, we’re constantly having conversations with the Government to work out exactly what car insurance will look like in the future. We’re playing a part in enabling this technology to reach our roads because we can see how these vehicles will make life better and safer for so many people.

    Consider this:

    Over 90% of all road traffic accidents are caused by driver error1. And road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among those aged 15-292. Imagine how many accidents will be prevented and lives saved when driver error is eliminated.

    Actually, you don’t need to imagine; it’s already been estimated, there could be a 93% reduction in accidents by 20403. We’re already seeing the benefits of autonomous emergency braking systems, which have reduced accidents by 15% and related injuries by 18%4.

    “Babies born today may never have to take a driving test”

    Amanda Blanc  
    AXA UK Chief Executive

    Saving millions of lives would be reason alone to be excited about this new technology, but there are many more potential benefits. Driverless cars will make it easier for the elderly and disabled to get around. Traffic will move faster, parking will become easier, and data will be used to suggest routes and offer personalised recommendations.

    Finally, let’s not forget the financial benefits. Fewer accidents will mean lower premiums. And Morgan Stanley has estimated overall global financial savings at £3.7 trillion – these savings coming not just from a reduced number of accidents, but productivity improvements and lower fuel costs.

    Tricky questions have been raised. For example, can someone in the car be held responsible for an accident when they’re not controlling the car? Does responsibility now shift to the manufacturer, or maybe to the software developer?

    How do we take account of different levels of automation in different vehicles? Or the transitional period when there will still be conventional driver-controlled cars on the road?

    Our work with the four projects has already helped shape the emerging law that will answer these questions and we’re very hopeful that it will be passed by Parliament soon – but there’s always more to do.

    New technology brings new challenges and as we move forward we will need to consider all the data-related issues, with the risks of theft and malicious interference by hackers, for example.

    But whilst there are new and emerging risks, the huge benefits of this technology to society greatly outweigh them and, fundamentally, that is why we’re involved. As projects go, helping to steer driverless cars forward is one we’re very proud of.


  • Watch our short video on why we support driverless cars research

  • The projects we're working with


    The VENTURER project is looking at the technology that enables autonomous vehicles and at the way users respond to it. By understanding the public’s reaction to driverless vehicles and the way we behave, the project will work out what is needed for the technology to be successfully adopted.

    The VENTURER trials are also heavily focused on understanding the insurance and legal implications of increased vehicle autonomy.

    See how the trials are going in their latest report

    UK Autodrive

    UK Autodrive is a programme led by engineering and consultancy firm Arup, but also involving forward-thinking local authorities as well as the UK’s leading technology and automotive businesses and academic institutions.

    Running for three years until October 2018, the project has been staging a number of trials examining technologies and the integration of driverless vehicles into existing urban environments.

    Trial 1 – Integration of autonomous and connected vehicles into real-world urban environments.

    Trial 2 - Showing how autonomous and connected vehicles could solve challenges such as congestion.

    Trial 3 - Demonstrating the commercial operation of electric-powered self-driving ‘pods’ on a city scale.

    Trial 4 - Providing insight to key decision-makers, including legislators, insurers and investors.


    The FLOURISH project is addressing vulnerabilities in the technology which powers automated vehicles, with a focus on the critical areas of cyber security and wireless communications.

    It aims to develop products and services that will maximise the benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles for both users and transport authorities. By adopting a user-centred approach, FLOURISH will achieve a better understanding of consumer demands and expectations, including the implications and challenges of an ageing society.

    Read their latest Insurance and Legal report


    The Capri project will deliver a pilot scheme that could pave the way for connected and autonomous vehicles to move people around airports, hospitals, business parks, shopping and tourist centres.

    Led by consulting engineering firm AECOM, it includes the design, development and testing of new driverless and connected pods-on-demand (PODs), culminating in on-road public trials at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

    As an insurer, we’re underwriting the PODs during the trials, enabling the project to investigate technologies that will allow the vehicles to navigate safely and seamlessly in both pedestrian and road environments. We’ll also be advising Capri on insurance-related issues throughout the project.

  • We're restless in many ways

    Here are a few examples
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  • See what else we're working on…

    We’re restless for a reason

    What drives us is our pursuit to help make your life better and safer.

    Out on the road

    Does your insurance cover any car or any driver? We’ve got you covered.

    AXA Research Fund

    Science plays a critical role in empowering people to face today’s challenges and forge better lives.