That new Tesla may have been a big investment, but it may pay off in the future.
Self-driving cars are soon poised to put bus, truck, Uber, and pizza delivery drivers out of a job as soon as the technology becomes cheaper to run than a driver's hourly wage, but another class of worker that will soon be unemployed due to autonomous vehicles will be Jake from State Farm and his midnight call center buddies. As insurance company Root has just detailed in a blog post, Tesla drivers that use Autopilot are now eligible for a discount on their insurance.
The Ohio-based insurance company cites a recent report from the NHTSA that claims the rate of Tesla vehicle crashes plummeted by nearly 40% after Tesla's Autopilot became available. As more cars begin to adopt semi-autonomous features and driver aids that reduce the rate of accidents, it's a given that insurance premiums would go down. We had previously reported that the intermediary period between when accident rates plummet and when insurance rates fall to catch up to a new reality of less on-road danger would be a sweet spot for insurance companies – a last supper if you will – that would allow them to gorge on profits by charging consumers the same amount and paying far less to cover damages.
This is, after all, a capitalistic economy so prices would eventually drop as competition increases, but Root is taking the first step towards this by giving discounts to Tesla drivers who use Autosteer. So far only Ohio drivers qualify for the discount and to participate, Tesla drivers must download an app by Root. After taking a test drive with the app on and Autosteer enabled, Root will begin offering tiered discounts based on how often the Autosteer system is activated during drives. The more a driver uses it, the more their rates decrease. So far the app only works with Tesla's Autopilot systems but Root is looking to expand to other cars with semi-autonomous drive functions by the end of the year.
The car insurance sector of the future may not look nearly as large as it does now, but that doesn't mean that companies aren't already trying to stake a claim on the smaller plot of real estate. Maybe Tesla's plan to take over insurance and maintenance costs will pay off after all.