Hybrid drivers get more tickets and get into more accidents than drivers of conventional cars. That’s the conclusion of a new study of 360,000 vehicle insurance claims by San Francisco-based Quality Planning Corp. The results from Quality Planning, a unit of Insurance Services Offices Inc., call into question the discounts offered to hybrid drivers by major insurance companies.
A key to the findings could be that the typical hybrid owner is more likely to live in a city, and urban drivers generally are cited for more traffic violations. Owners of the Toyota Prius, for example, racked up 65 percent more traffic tickets than conventional drivers, according to the study. The typical hybrid owner is also more likely to be a woman and older than average.
According to the study, non-commuting hybrid owners drive an average of 25 percent—or 2,000 miles—more than non-hybrid drivers, while mileage racked up by commuters was about the same for hybrid and non-hybrid owners. Dr. Raj Bhat, president of Quality Planning, said, “What we don’t know is whether owning a hybrid vehicle encourages people to drive more miles each day or take more pleasure trips.”
For 2008 hybrid cars, Quality Planning found that the cost to insurers of providing collision coverage for hybrids was 13 percent higher than for conventional vehicles, while non-collision-related damage was 17 percent higher—with larger hybrids taking most of the hit. For example, when comparing specific 2006-2008 models, the highest collision loss costs came from the Toyota Highlander Hybrid—45 percent higher—and the Ford Escape Hybrid—31 percent higher.
Fueling and maintenance costs are commonly hundreds of dollars less expensive for owners of hybrid vehicles compared to owners of similar non-hybrid cars.
Representatives for the major hybrid-producing car makers—Toyota, Honda and Ford—have not commented on the Quality Planning study.