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Are Americans Buying Into a Self-Driving Future?

Esurance analysis shows self-driving cars could save people money, but most aren't ready to relinquish control behind the wheel
SAN FRANCISCO — July 2, 2018

Self-driving cars are on the way, with the promise of safer roads, less traffic, and increased mobility. But will they really save Americans time and money? And even if they do, are Americans ready to give up driving? Esurance surveyed consumers, analyzed trends, and spoke to experts to find out. Read the full articles in this two-part series here.

"Like with most new technology, we'll see consumer perceptions evolve and adoption accelerate as the promised benefits of self-driving cars are realized," said Haden Kirkpatrick, head of strategy and innovation at Esurance. "At Esurance, our purpose is to help people thrive in the modern world, and an autonomous future with fewer accidents and more lives saved, lives into that purpose."

According to Esurance research, in the best-case scenario, a family that gives up their car in favor of driverless ridesharing could save $4,100 in annual transportation costs.1 Other research confirms that a 20 percent improvement in efficiencies of the personal transportation system, would generate a 5 percent increase in household incomes.2 The attraction of saving time and money is appealing; however, it will depend on where people live (cities, suburbs, or rural areas) and their willingness to embrace ridesharing over car ownership.

By 2025, self-driving taxis should be commonplace. In fact, one company is planning to roll out a robo-taxi service this year, while other ridesharing companies are testing driverless cars in Arizona and California. Once driverless ridesharing is everywhere, it's easy to imagine two-car households going to just one car and urban one-car households dropping their cars entirely, which could save families more money in transportation costs.

However, there's still a general perception that people don't trust self-driving cars — and can't imagine doing so in the future. In a 2018 Esurance survey3, 83 percent expressed low or no interest in giving up control behind the wheel. Esurance found that there are two primary factors motivating them to continue driving: a general unwillingness to give up control and a fear of the unknown, especially among different generations. Younger survey respondents (aged 18-34) were three times more likely to embrace self-driving cars than adults aged 55 and over. And parents were 60 percent more open to relinquishing driving control than non-parents to gain the benefits of multi-tasking.

Esurance also analyzed 400,000 tweets4 around driverless tech from February to April 2018 and found that 17 percent of the conversation related to fears. Another 20 percent of those tweets referenced self-driving cars as still being in the research and development phase.

While the automotive industry is in transition, the insurance industry will also evolve with changing consumer needs. Some automakers are already showing a willingness to accept liability for accidents that can be attributed to the self-driving car technology. This indicates both high faith in the long-term safety of the systems and an understanding that human error accounts for 94 percent of all driving accidents. The more that human error is removed from the equation, the safer our roads will become.

About Esurance®

Esurance, insurance for the modern world®, provides auto, homeowners, motorcycle, and renters insurance direct to consumers online and over the phone. With an easy-to-use mobile app, helpful online tools like photo claims and Coverage Counselor®, and knowledgeable experts, Esurance is the smart choice for today's web-savvy consumer. And as a member of the Allstate family with an A+ rating from A.M. Best*, Esurance offers auto and home insurance that's just a click, call, or tap away.

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Research Methodologies

1. Cost-saving calculation:

  • Average annual miles of 13,000
  • Today's insurance based on national average from National Association of Insurance Commissioners; Insurance for electric vehicles is 21% higher than gas vehicles per NerdWallet
  • Today's cost of vehicle amortized over 8 years and based on Kelly Blue Book average new car price for gas vehicle
  • Today's maintenance of 6 cents per mile for gas vehicles per
  • Today's average fuel and charging costs based on University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute
  • Today's rideshare costs calculated from average Uber rates in Los Angeles
  • Future costs do not account for inflation in order to show apples-to-apples comparison
  • Future rideshare costs based on cost per mile estimates from Johnston & Walker for 2025 and RethinkX for 2030
  • Future cost of AV based on $10k premium in 2025 and $5k more in 2030 per IHS over today's electric vehicles (Chevy Volt MSRP 2018) amortized over 8 years, plus insurance paid by automaker and built into sticker price (assumes 33% decrease from today's EV premiums per Deloitte Insuring the Future of Mobility)
  • Future maintenance savings of 5% by 2025 and 10% by 2030 from today's electric vehicles (at 3 cents per mile per
  • Future insurance assumes responsibility on part of automaker, not individual owner (thus $0)
  • Future charging assumes flat to today's estimates per University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute

2. Based on Allstate analysis of 126 million households.

3. Survey: Esurance conducted an online survey in December 2017 through January 2018 of 1,057 vehicle owners in the U.S. Drivers with car tech refers to owners of vehicles with warning systems (blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, collision warning, etc.) or driver override features (lane keep, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control). Additionally, 15 interviews were conducted in December 2017 with owners of high-tech vehicles.

4. Twitter: Twitter data was gathered from February 17, 2018 through April 7, 2018. The analysis spanned a sample of 396,758 English-language posts.


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