INTERNATIONAL - Tesla Inc said on Wednesday it was launching an insurance service designed to give drivers in California, its biggest market, lower rates because of safety features on its electric vehicles.
Chief Executive Elon Musk has been one of the strongest proponents of the idea that car insurance rates should plummet as driver-assist and self-driving technology become standard. Tesla said rates of its new plan were as much as 20 percent lower than those of rivals but did not provide comparisons.
The company did not name an insurance partner, but the California Department of Insurance website showed Tesla was licensed as a broker to conduct business on behalf of the State National Insurance Company Inc, a unit of Markel Corp
Tesla has said its Model 3 sedan had the lowest probability of injury of vehicles tested by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency responded that Tesla was making “misleading statements” and last October sent the company a cease-and-desist letter over the claims.
The company’s cars generally rank among the most expensive vehicles to insure due to their high repair costs for components and sensor equipment, according to safety researchers and insurance providers.