Tesla owners can expect to pay as much as 30 percent more for their insurance premiums from AAA, which examined crash data and determined that Tesla's electric vehicles crash more often and are costlier to repair than similar models.
According to a report from Automotive News, AAA made its decision to raise the rates after examining statistics from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and other information-gathering sources. In general, large luxury vehicles like the Tesla Model S account for 13 percent more damage claims than average, with repair costs soaring 50 percent higher than average. But, according to the HLDI, the Model S results in 46 percent more insurance claims than average and incurs repair costs that are twice the average.
AAA said it first noticed the Tesla statistics in its own records and then researched other sources to verify the information, primarily relying on the HLDI for its reliability and scope.
Anthony Ptasznik, chief actuary for AAA, explained: "Looking at a much broader set of countrywide data, we saw the same patterns observed in our own data, and that gave us the confidence to change rates."
The HLDI report, which covered Teslas from the 2014-'16 model years, placed the Model S into a class of luxury vehicles that also includes such models as the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Volvo XC70. For its part, Tesla disputes both the classification of its Model S performance sedan and Model X SUV and the fact that the Tesla Autopilot semiautonomous feature doesn't qualify for an insurance discount.
"This analysis is severely flawed and is not reflective of reality," Tesla said in a statement to Automotive News. "Among other things, it compares Model S and X to cars that are not remotely peers, including even a Volvo station wagon."
Tesla insists that if its vehicles were placed in appropriate categories their crash data would not be out of line and notes that the EV maker "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."
According to Automotive News, other major insurance companies, including State Farm and Geico, confirmed that claims data is a major factor in calculating their premiums but would not say whether their Tesla owners could expect rate adjustments.