Owners of EVs May Save Money on Insurance
People who buy electric vehicles are generally more responsible and cautious drivers.
If you want to drive an electric vehicle, it will cost -- a lot -- to be an early adopter. The few mainstream EVs that are available, such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, are priced higher than conventional vehicles and hybrids.
While calculating insurance rates is akin to a dark art -- it weighs factors such as driving history, local crime, real-estate values and vehicle theft rates -- experts say that EV owners can likely look forward to paying lower insurance premiums. The reason: EV owners are generally the type of responsible, cautious drivers on whom insurers can count to be less of a risk.
"When you look at electric-vehicle owners, you probably have a pretty careful bunch there," Jack Nerad, market analyst at Kelley Blue Book, told USA Today. "They're probably pretty mature, and they're not the young 20-something male who gets into the most fights and has the most car accidents."
Although EVs make up only a small percentage of the market now, it's likely that the buying demographic will grow and that and insurance companies may begin competing to get EV drivers to sign up for policies.
Last month, Hartford Insurance announced it will offer EV owners a 5 percent discount nationwide by the end of 2012. The company is marketing the move as part of its corporate responsibility policy and says it helps support environmental sustainability. But observers note that it’s also a savvy financial decision.
"Right now it's almost too early in the game to make that judgment," David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, told USA Today. “But they believe it. Otherwise they wouldn't be making that pitch."
But other insurers are hesitant, and not all EV owners are enjoying lower auto-insurance rates to offset potentially higher car payments. Depending on the type of vehicle that EV owners trade in, they may not see their insurance rates go down -- in fact, they may even go up.
USA Today used the example of Phoenix-area resident Paul Cummings. He traded in a Ford F-150 for a Chevy Volt, and said his State Farm insurance premiums increased by $204 a year.
Brittany Senary, a spokeswoman for Progressive, said in an e-mail to USA Today that switching to a pricey EV can cause insurance premiums to rise. "Because newer vehicles with more expensive technology and parts generally cost more to fix ... they're generally more expensive to insure,” she wrote. “We don't currently offer EV discounts because we cannot justify them based on our claims data."
So we may have to wait until more people are driving EVs before we see across-the-board car-insurance discounts. But by then more EVs may make it into the used-car market, and then younger driver will buy them, and the case for lower premiums will disappear.
[Source: USA Today]
When Hartford Insurance states it "is marketing the move as part of its corporate responsibility policy and says it helps support environmental sustainability.", you know this is BS. I think owners of non-EV cars should sue because insurance should be based on exactly what this article started with: "...weighs factors such as driving history, local crime, real estate values and vehicle theft rates". Those are all factors that actually have a direct, measurable impact on the amount of insurance company pay outs for claims. Until there is objective empirical data to prove EVs deserve lower rates, then they shouldn't be getting a price break at everyone else's expense.
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