It will be many years before we understand the safety implications of electric vehicles, but that hasn't stopped insurance company The Hartford from offering a discount for EV drivers.
Starting immediately, the company is offering a 5 percent break to new policy holders that live in Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Texas. The program will expand nationwide by the end of 2012. Existing policyholders are eligible for the same discount when their policy comes up for renewal.
"This financial incentive is a small way we can thank our customers for helping foster a greener environment," said Andy Napoli, president of consumer markets at The Hartford, in a statement.
Of course, it might also help provide a little more incentive for would-be electric vehicle drivers who are put off by the upfront pricetag for many of the vehicles currently available on the market. That price premium is seen at the key sticking point for some car buyers.
Not much is known about the safety of electric vehicles, since they have really only been on the road in any sort of volume way for a few years. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took the relatively rare step a few months ago of issuing a statement about its investigation of potential battery safety issues related to the Chevrolet Volt. The investigation was focused on the cause of post-crash fires that had occurred during NHTSA testing of the Volt.
The feds cleared the car, saying it didn't appear to pose any greater threat than any other car on the road. In its statement, the agency said:
“NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. Generally, all vehicles have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash. However, electric vehicles have specific attributes that should be made clear to consumers, the emergency response community and tow truck operators and storage facilities.”
The discount program mirrors one that The Hartford has been running for hybrid vehicles since 2009. It certainly differentiates the company among car insurance providers.