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Recent research indicates that drivers are more likely to blame humans than technology when an auto accident occurs. (metamorworks/Shutterstock.com) Recent research indicates that when a semi-autonomous vehicle is in an accident, drivers are likely to assign blame and responsibility to the automation and its manufacturer. (metamorworks/Shutterstock.com)

Semi-autonomous vehicles, which allow drivers to supervise and take control of the vehicle, are becoming more common. But before we fully accept the inherent risks and realities linked to the idea that semi-autonomous cars and trucks will drive us instead of us driving them, insurers need to be prepared to help address two major questions: If a vehicle drives itself, who is responsible should that vehicle crash? And, should victims expect to be compensated at the same level as traditional auto accidents?

A few car manufacturers have promised that when their fully-automated vehicles are ready to go on the market, they will take responsibility for any crashes. In cases of assisted automation, Tesla has claimed that the responsibility remains with the human driver. The automaker made this determination after a man riding in a Tesla Model S in “Autopilot” mode crashed into a truck that neither the driver nor the Tesla had detected.

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