AAA says Tesla Model S, X owners should pay higher insurance rates

AAA said it will be raising insurance rates for Tesla Model S and Model X owners, citing higher claim frequencies and costlier claims than vehicles in its same class. The non-profit service organization’s analysis would drive rates of Tesla drivers up 30% if acted upon.

The assessment came up when AAA looked into results of its own data which revealed higher claims per vehicle for Teslas relative to “comparable” vehicles. When AAA looked beyond its internal data from the Highway Loss Data Institute, the organization claims to have found the same trends.

It’s worth noting that AAA’s analysis takes into account multiple factors and is not solely based on the safety rating of the Model S and Model X including their active safety systems or Tesla Autopilot. AAA’s decision to raise premiums was primarily driven by the higher total number of insurance claims made and the value of each.

AAA’s findings is based on data obtained from the Highway Loss Data Institute which according to its website is an “independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries and property damage — from crashes on the nation’s roads.” The organization specializes in performing scientific research on vehicle insurance data and providing summarized results of the data – such as crash statistics and crash avoidance:

Vehicle research focuses on both crash avoidance and crashworthiness. Crash tests are central to crashworthiness research, and IIHS testing expanded with the opening of the Vehicle Research Center

In response to AAA’s finding, Tesla argues that its vehicles were put up against the wrong competitors. “This analysis is severely flawed and is not reflective of reality,” the Silicon Valley electric carmaker said to Automotive News. “Among other things, it compares Model S and X to cars that are not remotely peers, including even a Volvo station wagon.”

Tesla noted that “We expect Model X to receive the best score for any SUV ever tested.” While true, one most also consider the fact that bodywork on the aluminum-skinned Model S and Model X are generally more expensive to repair due to the relatively low supply of repair shops that are capable of performing the type of work. Tesla recently announced that it will expand its mobile repair service as the company aims to reduce customer wait times to less than a day.

AAA’s claim that Tesla owners should pay higher insurance premiums fly in the face of new insurance startups that are specifically advertising lower rates for Tesla drivers that use Autopilot. While the AAA data encompasses the broader set of Tesla drivers that includes vehicles equipped with Autopilot and those without Autopilot, the contrast is stark.

Tesla reiterated in its statement to Automotive News that the company is also working with leading insurers to integrate an insurance option into Tesla drivers’ MyTesla dashboard.

Regardless, the future will be based on autonomous driving. And in that future, accident rates, traffic related injury and death rates will drop. Insurance rates will inevitably follow.

AAA says Tesla Model S, X owners should pay higher insurance rates
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