How Hybrid Vehicle Owners Can Save on Auto Insurance

Sales of hybrid automobiles continue to rise in the U.S. About 1.35 million hybrids were sold in the country last year, up 61% from 2011. They now make up about 3% of total U.S. sales, up nearly 50% from the previous year.

The reason for that popularity is twofold: Owners know that they’re saving money on gas and that they’re reducing their carbon footprint. Hybrids use up to 60% less gasoline than conventional vehicles. The downside, of course, is that hybrids cost about $5,000 more than comparable conventional models. Even with gas costing nearly $4 a gallon, it could take 6-8 years for the average motorist to recoup that initial extra expense with fuel savings only. Keep in mind, however, that the environmental benefits begin immediately.

But using less fuel isn’t the only way hybrids can save their owners money. There are insurance benefits that can help their pocketbooks as well.

Many providers offer hybrid owners a discount of up to 5% on their auto insurance. They have solid business reasons for doing this in addition to promoting sustainability. For one thing, insurers judge hybrid owners in general to be responsible drivers, making them less risky to insure. For another, they believe hybrid vehicles to be safer because they’re heavier than similar conventional models. Why does that matter? Heavier vehicles tend to protect their occupants better in crashes than lighter cars. With annual premiums averaging about $1,200 in the U.S., that discount translates into $60 a year.

Less obvious rewards

The prospect of getting a discount for simply owning a hybrid is one thing. But there are some other ways you can cash in as well if you cut down on the number of miles you drive. In fact, these discounts would apply to policyholders who drive conventional vehicles as well.

One method is by carpooling. If you carpool to work with a friend, you not only get the pleasure of company on the way to the job, the two of you will save gasoline and you’ll cut the emissions you’d generate if you drove separately.

Along the same line, put the keys away for as many of your short trips as possible. Walk, run or ride a bike for these instead. You’ll again save gas, and you’ll get some great exercise that will leave you healthier.

Driving fewer miles has two other benefits. One, because you’re spending less time behind the wheel, you won’t be nearly as likely to get into an accident, which means you won’t be filing claims. That will keep your rate down.

Depending on how much you cut down on driving, your carrier will take it a step further. If you can demonstrate that you’re now driving less than 12,000 miles per year, you could qualify for your carrier’s low “pleasure” rate.

Generating a smaller carbon footprint is a great goal for everyone. Saving some money while doing it just makes it even better.

This article was contributed by Arthur Murray, who writes for HomeInsurance.com. Arthur has more than 30 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.

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