TOKYO -- Japan's Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance have jointly developed a new insurance product to cover risks involved in demonstration tests of self-driving cars.
It is the first such insurance product in Japan. The two insurers, both subsidiaries of MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings, said they have already already won a contract from a venture company for the new insurance service.
The development of the new policy comes as Toyota Motor and other automakers are racing to commercialize self-driving cars around 2020.
A self-driving car contains many electronic parts and is equipped with complicated systems.
One of the biggest questions concerning these cars is: Who will be responsible for accidents involving the vehicles -- a driver, an automaker or an electronic parts manufacturer?
It is also difficult to predict how often accidents involving self-driving cars will happen or how much damage might be caused.
The new policy will cover possible risks involved in demonstration tests of self-driving cars in a comprehensive manner.
Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance believe the new product will encourage more companies to demonstrate their technology.
Insurance premiums will differ, depending on the number of vehicles used in a demonstration test and the test period. They are expected to be between tens of thousands of yen (hundreds of dollars)and hundreds of thousands of yen per test per year
The two insurers expect to sell policies to automakers, research institutions, parts suppliers, telcos telecommunication firms and software companies.