The safer your vehicle is, outfitted with the most up to date collision-avoidance or anti-roll features, the less likely you or your passengers will sustain serious injuries in an accident. Safety features in new cars are the product of the most innovative and technologically advanced engineering processes in manufacturing today. When auto insurance underwriters set premium rates, they base part of their decision on the overall safety of the vehicle. For example, install LATCH child safety seat tethers in your vehicle and you may merit a discount on your rates. There is a discount many drivers qualify for which is for mature, responsible drivers of hybrid vehicles.
The Driver Earns the Discount, not the Hybrid
There are also factors which determine your rates which have nothing to do with the intrinsic safety of the vehicle. For the most part, new cars are required to have similar safety equipment to be allowed on U.S. roads. One factor which is also taken into consideration when insurers decide your rates is your maturity and responsibility. Currently, owning a hybrid is a relative novelty and considered a sign of environmental stewardship. The stereotype of hybrid owners is of a responsible, environmentally conscious individual who weighs his decisions thoughtfully, drives defensively, and is not prone to erratic behavior.
While there is nothing peculiar about an alternative fuel vehicle which makes it safer or less likely to suffer damage in a collision than a traditional gas powered vehicle, insurers credit owners of such vehicles with a preferred insured category. In this category some insurers will discount the driver up to 10 percent off his premium. Hybrid owners are categorized by many insurers as at lower risk for getting into an accident or filing an insurance claim.
Hybrid Drivers in the Fast Lane
The insurers who offer discounts to hybrid owners may be doing so for other reasons than your driving habits when you read studies that show the hybrid owners get nearly 66 percent more traffic tickets than non-hybrid owners. Next time you are on the freeway, take not of how many Prius drivers pass you with great dispatch. The take home message is that while hybrids remain a novelty, those hybrid owners who are shopping for car insurance can take advantage of the few insurers who offer a discount.
Alternative Fuel Vehicles in a Showroom Near You
The differences in repair costs, initial cost and other issues continues to make the benefits owning a hybrid for purely economic reasons a debate for the ages. The lower emissions and greater fuel economy are facts based on sound evidence. Other alternative fuel vehicles such as the plug-in electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will be on showroom floors eventually and when they arrive, will probably merit similar auto insurance discounts as their hybrid predecessors. Conversely, as hybrids are purchased by a broader spectrum of drivers, the actuarial tables which some insurers use may begin to show that the wider population of hybrid owners are not much different than the rest of us in terms of driving safely.
Auto insurance underwriters who now offer discounts to drivers of hybrids may withdraw those discounts as the wave of hybrids on the road will hit 15 percent in the next 10 years.