Semi Trucks at Warehouse, Aerial View

How Autonomous Trucking Will Impact Commercial Truck Insurance in Texas

Autonomous trucks are safe, quiet, sleek, and very predictable – easing the need for commercial truck insurance. At least, that is what innovation leaders in the autonomous trucking industry promise the world. The world is getting ready for these unmanned rigs step by step. For instance, Texas has updated its road regulations to allow autonomous trucks as long as they comply with regulations and insurance requirements. Truck drivers in Texas and other states have to prepare for the eventuality of driverless trucks and how it impacts commercial truck insurance and the trucking industry in general.

Aurora, Waymo, and Paccar are some of the leading names in the race to develop a commercially feasible autonomous truck. Tesla’s Semi truck set the baseline for the quality and capability of delivery trucks the world deserves. As truck companies race to become the first to enter the market, we can take the time to predict the future of the industry to better prepare for it.

Insurance Covers for Driven vs. Autonomous Trucks

Emerging technologies in the automotive industry have shown great potential for consumer adoption. Combined with the ultra-connected age we live in, it is only expected that the automobile industry undergoes a radical change to merge with the market lifestyle.

In 2015, the world’s first licensed self-driving truck by Daimler hit the road. Called the Freightliner Inspiration, the semi’s autonomy was limited compared to the self-driving cars on the road today. However, the truck was proof that the era of autonomous vehicles was here, and the world had to get ready fast.

The adoption of autonomous trucks will significantly impact the types, prices, and purchase of owner operator insurance. Insurance providers are already considering or implementing new rig insurance policies that factor in the core ingredients of an autonomous and semi-autonomous truck. These components are meant to align with mass expectations for product-based coverage rather than auto-based coverage.

What Affects Commercial Truck Insurance?

report by KPMG compares the factors that affect commercial truck insurance to those that could affect autonomous truck insurance. On top of the list is risk influence rates. Autonomous vehicles seek to remedy the shortcomings of human drivers. Therefore, since autonomous trucks will be less risky on the road, truckers insurance costs should be dramatically lower.

Another crucial factor that affects auto commercial insurance costs and autonomous truck insurance is the nature of business and cargo. Since cargo loads are valued differently, their risk factors vary. Critics of autonomous trucks argue that the risk for loss or damage of shipment in an autonomous vehicle is higher than that of a driven truck.

Automation: The First Steps of Autonomy in Trucking

The trucking industry has been very steadfast in adopting new technologies designed to save time, effort, and money. Driver-assist technologies, for instance, are a reality that now shortens the potential of new commercial drivers. Highway automation on Texan roads is expected to be the next major technological implementation that will revolutionize how semi-autonomous and autonomous trucks will use the road.

While full automation of vehicles is seen in a bad light because of the jobs it threatens, it is an unavoidable development that redefines driving as a career. It also goes a long way to resolving major problems caused by driver shortages and hiring unqualified drivers for commercial trucks. In Texas alone, a shortage of over 50,000 truck drivers may have led to an increase in truck-related accidents in 2020.

An increase in the frequency and severity of accidents leaves a serious dent in the company’s finances and leads to a sharp rise in the cost of semi truck insurance. Most companies have responded to the increasing demand for drivers by adopting more advanced driving tools, including sophisticated fleet management and partial or complete system automation.

Truckers: More Than Just Drivers?

Owner operator insurance is a truck driver’s best friend in many ways. There is a good reason why the government will not let a person operate a truck without it. Most shippers often demand proof of liability insurance before they can trust a company with their cargo. However, it is a good time for the insurance industry as new autonomous vehicles come into the mainstream.

Companies invested in the trucking industry may see many gains in switching from driven to autonomous trucks. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published figures showing that drivers often cause 94% of auto claims. There is a good argument that insurers will have to redefine how they quantify and price risk when insuring autonomous vehicles. While some responsibilities and abilities of a driver cannot be taken over by an autonomous system, there is more to gain for the truckers in the long run.

How Trucking and Insurance Industries Prepare for the Autonomous Trucks Era

Companies that rely on human-to-human interaction services, such as moving companies, are at a disadvantage when autonomous trucking goes mainstream. Drivers will still be in high demand for long as many jobs still require them to check vehicles, secure cargo, and interact with customers.

While it is an unavoidable cost, commercial truck insurance is necessary on every road. There are many tips and tricks you can use to cut the costs of insurance and get better commercial truck insurance in Texas. As the adoption of autonomous fleet sees an uptake over this and the next couple of years, insurance costs become less relevant in their operations costs. Autonomous trucks offer significant opportunities for companies to improve their productivity and driving hours, hence higher returns.

Final Thoughts

The traditional approach to commercial truck insurance has come far, but it does not cover autonomous trucks. Since these new rigs promise to be safer and more efficient, it is only a matter of time before every company is clamoring to invest in them. How it will affect the nature of truck insurance is yet an unforeseeable matter. For now, if you would like the best commercial truck insurance cover in Texas, click here to get a free quote from J.E.B. Insurance Services. We also offer competitively priced owner operator insurance in Florida, Illinois, Georgia, Iowa, South Carolina, North Carolina, Nebraska, and Tennessee.

David Ott

David Ott