Lampitt, Barclay & Jones Bill to Ensure Self-Driving Motor Vehicle Owners Comply with Insurance Requirements Approved by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Arthur Barclay and Patricia Egan Jones to clarify that owners of self-driving motor vehicles must comply with existing insurance requirements was approved on Monday by an Assembly panel.

Specifically, the bill clarifies that, for the purposes of insurance, a self-driving car must comply with compulsory automobile and motor vehicle insurance requirements.

“As autonomous vehicles become more popular, we must ensure that insurance requirements continue to be met by drivers,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “These vehicles are still new to the market and should be treated the same as any other vehicle on the road when it comes to insurance.”

Current law provides, with certain limited exceptions, that every owner or registered owner of a motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this state will maintain motor vehicle liability insurance coverage. This bill clarifies that this mandate includes self-driving motor vehicles that are capable of operating without active control or monitoring by a human operator.

“This legislation is needed to clarify insurance requirements for autonomous vehicles,” said Barclay (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Like any other vehicle, a car with self-driving capability still needs to be fully covered for collision as well as other personal injury protection benefits.”

“As driving technology evolves, we must continue to ensure drivers are acquiring the proper insurance coverage for their vehicles,” said Jones (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Although autonomous vehicles are equipped with crash avoidance technology and other warning systems, it doesn’t negate the need for insurance or less coverage for these vehicles and their drivers. It doesn’t matter who or what is driving the car, we encourage safe driving and proper liability insurance coverage for all drivers.”

This bill also amends the definition of “automobile” under that act to include a self-driving private passenger automobile that is capable of operating without active control or monitoring by a human operator. The bill will extend the requirements of the New Jersey Automobile Reparation Reform Act, including the requirement for owners and registrants to maintain liability insurance and the requirement that applicable insurance policies include personal injury protection benefits, to self-driving cars.

The bill was released by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee and will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.