What if I refuse to purchase 'autopilot' insurance from the dealership, but then use the feature anyway. They can't force you to purchase and keep paying the monthly fee, and at this point, who knows if they lock out that feature remotely.
It is an absolute certainty that all self-driving cars (level 4 or 5) are going to be phoning home for the foreseeable future.
If I get in a crash with autopilot on, and I claim I wasn't driving so I'm not responsible, but the insurance fee to the dealer has not been paid, who foots the bill.
Under that model, obviously you would be liable, but injured parties would certainly also tend to sue the automaker.
If you say the owner would foot the bill, then you are making the claim that in the end, the owner of the vehicle is responsible for autopilot, not the manufacturer.
That's why tacking on a 'lifetime' insurance premium to the price of a new car is the only real way that makes sense
They're not going to do this until their accident rates are way lower than humans, because of the liability issues involved. So that's going to keep the truly autonomous vehicles pushed out into the future for some time. In the meantime, we will get more driver assistance features added into the vehicles. Many of these features are useful to the self-driving system anyway, so refining them before using them for full autonomy is a pretty darned good idea.