J.D. Power Pulse Survey Says Consumers Not on Board With Rush to Market Automated Vehicles

Findings show insurance industry can bridge gap between consumer buy-in and adoption of AVs.

While auto manufacturers, technology companies, and government entities race to develop and deploy automated vehicles, a new pulse survey from J.D. Power and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies reveals it may be time to pump the brakes. J.D. Power and NAMIC partnered to assess consumer attitudes about and demand for AVs and found consumers skeptical when it comes to giving up the wheel.

Results of the J.D. Power pulse survey on automated vehicles and insurance are being presented on Oct. 9 at NAMIC’s The Future of Auto Summit, held at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Mcity Test Facility on the UM campus. Survey co-authors Tom Karol, NAMIC’s general counsel, federal, and Robert Lajdziak, J.D. Power Insurance Practice, will present the findings.

The J.D. Power pulse survey of 500 auto insurance customers, conducted in late August, uncovers some troubling realities facing this emerging technology:

  1. Consumer buy-in of AVs is lacking.
    • 40% of those surveyed say there is no advantage to fully automated vehicles.
    • 42% of consumers say they would not ride in an automated vehicle regardless of what progress is made in technology.
    • Nearly as many respondents cited safety as an advantage (19%) of AVs as those who cited safety as a disadvantage (17%) of AVs.
  2. Safety is the main reason for lack of consumer acceptance of AVs.
    • Nearly half of all respondents (45%) say they would require 100% safety before they would ride in an AV.
    • Just 17% of those surveyed believed there was an achievable level of safety testing for AVs that would make them comfortable with riding in an AV.
    • 73% of consumers surveyed said they definitely would not or probably would not replace ride sharing with a fully automated vehicle.
  3. Consumers have trust issues related to AVs, but they trust the insurance industry most when it comes to addressing safety.
    • 35% of respondents named the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or its subsidiary, the Highway Loss Data Institute, as groups they would trust most to perform reliable safety testing for AVs, with auto manufacturers (12%), the federal government (9%), and state governments (4%) lagging far behind.
    • Respondents cited the insurance industry (34%) as having a greater interest in safety than either auto manufacturers (26%) or technology companies (23%), though most respondents believe the main motivating factor for all sectors is profit-driven.

Whether AVs will be permitted to operate on the roads will depend greatly on public demand that driverless cars have the requisite level of safety. The insurance industry has led auto safety advocacy for decades – seat belts, airbags, and cameras – and there should be no difference when it comes to automated cars.

“Consumers look to insurers to establish reliable safety standards,” said Karol. “The results of this survey show why it's imperative for the insurance industry to have a seat at the table in convincing consumers that automated vehicles can be trusted.

“Insurance companies have a critical role to play in bridging the gap between consumer caution and consumer adoption of this emerging technology,” Karol continued. “Insurers have proven their commitment to safety and want to provide their experience and expertise to all other stakeholders. Insurance is the leader in testing and validating auto safety, and NAMIC looks forward to ensuring that expertise is provided.”


Catherine Imus
Vice President - Public Affairs