Despite criticism from many car experts, insurance companies are still standing their ground regarding discounts for hybrid vehicles. Most insurers slash 10 percent off premiums for hybrid vehicles, claiming that ‘green’ cars help reduce carbon emissions and delay the effects of global warming.
Critics of the discount, however, point out recent studies conducted that seemingly single out hybrid cars as more prone to accidents. According to a recently published study, hybrid vehicles are 13 percent more expensive to repair in the event of accidents. Researchers claim that conventional cars are far less expensive to repair.
The same research also revealed that owners of hybrid cars drove more than their counterparts who drive ordinary vehicles. Some insurance providers, however, say that it is still unclear if owning hybrid cars can tempt motorists to go for pleasure drives more often.
Insurers also addressed some of the points enumerated in the study, explaining that while hybrid cars were more costly to repair than non-hybrid vehicles, they were less likely to involve physical injuries or damaged properties.
Some key players in the car insurance industry defended the discounts extended to owners of hybrid cars, saying that the lower premiums are well worth it. They add that overall, drivers of hybrid vehicles are more careful and responsible behind the wheel.
Researchers also claimed that certain hybrid car models are involved in more traffic violations than conventional cars. For instance, Toyota’s Prius chalk up 65 percent more traffic tickets than ordinary vehicles, they say. Providers, on the other hand, say that the higher number of violations is because most hybrid cars are used in urban areas like congested cities. They point out that most policyholders that live in busy cities are often more at risk of being involved in minor accidents.
Most car insurance providers started introducing special rates for hybrid cars in California. An estimated one out of every four hybrid vehicles in the U.S. can be found in the state. After realizing the need for lower premiums across the nation, providers started giving out special rates for most of their policyholders using hybrid cars.
According to industry statistics, hybrids accounted for 0.8 percent of all cars sold in the U.S. in 1999. This figure has increased to 2.6 percent this year. Issues like higher pump prices and global warming plus the introduction of new hybrid models are thought to be the main factors in the increase, expert say.