PH needs new framework for driverless cars

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The government needs to draft a comprehensive framework amending certain laws to create a conducive environment for driverless vehicles in Philippines, the Insurance Commission said on Monday.

“The commission understands that when the time comes, the regulatory frameworks would have to be set in place in order to address the various concerns that will arise with the advent of driverless vehicles,” Insurance Commissioner Dennis Funa said.

Funa gave a keynote speech during the 5th Asia Motor Insurance & Claims Management Conference in Makati City on Monday, on the theme “Future of Motor Insurance in Asia.”

When autonomous vehicles start to rule the roads, 90 percent of traffic accidents caused by human error will be avoided, as cars are not going to crash nearly as frequently as before, and if they do, cars will not crash as severely as seen in the past, Funa said citing a Forbes report.


Allied Market Research also predicted that driverless cars will reduce insurance costs by 30 percent, he said.
“Taking this into account, I, as the Philippine Insurance Commissioner, would like to lead the way in exploring how driverless cars may affect the industry,” he said.

Driverless cars will have impact on automobile prices, as well as claims and underwriting processes of insurance companies, Funa noted, saying new technologies installed in vehicles will raise prices.

With respect to claims, driverless cars will change how Philippine laws deal with accidents depending on the type of driverless car, he added.

With the advent of driverless cars, regulators will face challenge of developing standards and regulations to guide the insurance industry in adjusting to such changes and safeguard it from collapse.

“With respect to Philippine laws, it is not only the insurance regulatory framework that would have to be reevaluated, but also more importantly the Civil Code on torts and damages,” Funa said.

As things now stand, the driver and the owner of a vehicle may be held liable in case the vehicle is the cause of the accident.

Subsequently, the owner may have a right to recover from the driver. But if the car is a driverless car, the owner would then have to recover from the manufacturer or the network provider, Funa noted.

“Clearly, Philippine laws would have to be amended,” he said.

With the help of the private sector—insurance companies and motor vehicle industry stakeholders—policymakers can formulate a comprehensive framework regulating driverless vehicles in the Philippine jurisdiction in the future, Funa added.

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