- tesla will offer car insurance for any new or current tesla owner through a company-backed broker in california.
- the ev maker says it will not use owners' driving data to determine rates, although the insurance company that underwrites the policies has suggested it would do so.
- the ev maker does say it will offer rate cuts as high as 30 percent over other insurers in the state.
between its perfect weather and incredible back roads, california is still a great state to own a tesla without even factoring in the ev-friendly legislature. now there's another reason, as california tesla owners with outrageously priced homes know all too well: car insurance.
after toying with a factory-backed insurance plan for two years, tesla insurance is now a legit entity in california promising rate cuts of up to 30 percent. unlike short-lived plans offered through liberty mutual in 2017, tesla insurance is a separate company set up to broker for state national insurance company, according to reuters. tesla claims that its driver assists, which are standard across its three-car lineup, have proven to lower insurance claims, thus it claims to offer lower-cost insurance rates. the insurance is open to any tesla owner in california, with or without those assists, including the original roadster. costs are completely up in the air, just like any insurance policy, which must factor age, location, gender, and other actuarial data points that try to predict your entire life's future on a spreadsheet.
with regard to data, tesla says it won't track your personal driving data to determine insurance rates—although the company's filing with the state's insurance board suggests it would. keep in mind that tesla downloads video and sensor data from every owner's car to improve its autopilot functions, and it also has access to charging usage and anything else connected to a computer.
whether tesla drivers crash less often or make fewer insurance claims than the average driver is unproven. the national highway traffic safety administration (nhtsa), using limited data from mileage and airbag deployments provided by tesla, said in 2017 that model s and model x drivers were crashing "38 percent less often" since the company introduced autopilot with its autosteer lane-centering feature. that's the feature that has convinced enough owners to fall asleep, text, or die in accidents under misguided assumptions that autopilot is fully self-driving.
studies, including those from aaa and the insurance institute for highway safety, have varied as to whether tesla insurance claims are higher or lower than those for comparable luxury vehicles, depending on what pool of drivers in all 50 states the researchers chose to study. but regardless, any new car that costs upward of $70,000 and often trends past $100,000 is going to be more expensive to insure than the average new vehicle. repairing a tesla, which is still a comparatively low-volume vehicle with expensive proprietary electronics, is often impossible at independent shops. just look at the curved windshield of a model x. if you buy a tesla, you're not buying aftermarket parts, and neither can your insurance company.
tesla says it will expand insurance to other states, but first, we'll wait to see whether california customers come out saying they've saved money.