A major auto insurer is raising rates for Tesla owners, saying data shows the Model S and Model X electric vehicles have more insurance claims and higher claims costs compared with other cars in what it considers the same class, an analysis that drew immediate dispute from Tesla.
AAA-The Auto Club Group told Automotive News that rates for Teslas could go up 30 percent, based on an analysis of data that Anthony Ptasznik, the chief actuary, said were first noticed internally and then confirmed with other sources, including a report from the industry's non-profit Highway Loss Data Institute, an arm of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Tesla says the analysis is wrong and compares its cars with the wrong vehicles: "This analysis is severely flawed and is not reflective of reality," it told Automotive News in an emailed statement. "Among other things, it compares Model S and X to cars that are not remotely peers, including even a Volvo station wagon."
The latest Highway Loss Data Institute report looked at claims data on vehicles from 2014-2016 model years. It compares collision damage claims frequency and cost with the overall averages for all vehicles and with the averages for their vehicle class, which are based on size, weight and competing models. On both counts, it found more frequent and costlier claims than class averages for the Teslas.
"Teslas get into a lot of crashes and are costly to repair afterward," said Russ Rader, spokesman for the IIHS, told Automotive News. "Consumers will pay for that when they go to insure one."
The Model S sedan is classified by the institute as a large luxury vehicle by size and weight, a class in which it also puts the Volvo XC70, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series. Tesla in its email said the analysis uses a flawed set of comparable cars and, thus, unfairly makes its cars stand out. The Model X is classed with large luxury SUVs. It said the high rate of acceleration in both the Model S and Model X make it "false and misleading" to compare them against vehicles such as the XC70. It also said that the analysis does not consider stellar safety scores in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests and the benefits of its Autopilot semiautonomous driving technology.
Other auto insurers contacted by the publication would not say if they are considering similar increases. Tesla, meanwhile, said in its statement that it is working with insurers to get owners cheaper insurance and to get them to recognize benefits based on its cars' safety technology:
"As part of the Insure My Tesla program, Tesla is working with leading insurers resulting in lower prices for Tesla insurance, not higher. These leading insurers also appreciate the added safety benefit of Autopilot."