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Hybrid Vehicle Claims Cost More, Happen More, Than Gas Counterparts Says Study

Source: National Underwriter

Posted on 11 Aug 2010

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"Driving green" may help the planet but hinder the pocket, according to a study released by Mitchell International Inc. which finds that the frequency and severity of claims in hybrid vehicles is higher than those for their gas-powered counterparts.

The study, featured in Mitchell's quarterly publication Industry Trends Report (ITR), also notes that hybrid drivers are significantly more likely to receive traffic tickets than drivers of gas-powered vehicles.

Regarding claim frequency and the higher number of traffic tickets, Greg Horn, vice president of Industry Relations, Mitchell International, reported in ITR that one reason may be where hybrid drivers live. Most live in urban settings, ITR noted, where tickets and accidents are more frequent.

Additionally, he said the profile of hybrid drivers has changed in recent years. As recently as 2008, hybrid purchasers were mostly concerned with their carbon footrint and impact on the environment. “While their politics may have been liberal, their driving habits were conservative, making them a very good risk to insure,” Horn said.

Since then, hybrids have caught on with drivers interested in cutting fuel expenses. “This shift changed the hybrid driver profile and brought with it a change in the risk profile,” he said.

Horn, citing rating integrity solutions provider Quality Planning, said Toyota Prius owners received .38 tickets per 100,000 miles driven compared to .23 tickets per 100,000 miles for non-hybrid drivers. He noted that is a 65 percent difference.

Regarding claim severity, Horn said the higher hybrid numbers even showed when comparing the same car models. The Honda Civic hybrid model, for example, has a 6.9 percent higher severity than the gas-powered model. The Ford Escape hybrid had a 9 percent higher severity than the non-hybrid.

Horn said the higher severity is partly because of higher mechanical labor charges for hybrids. More mechanical operations, he said, are sublet back to dealerships for completion.

Alternate parts use is also lower for hybrids, Horn said. Interestingly, he noted, this is seen even for like car models. He said loyalty accounts for this. Hybrid owners, he said, are “one of the most loyal groups” and are more inclined to bring their vehicles to the dealership for repairs.