Travelers personal lines, a member of St. Paul Travelers, said it plans to implement a 10 percent discount on auto insurance to hybrid vehicle owners in the U.S. beginning in February 2006.
Travelers said it is the first auto insurance company to begin implementing a discount for hybrid owners nationwide.
“Our preliminary research indicates that hybrid owners tend to fall into the preferred insured category, and at Travelers, lower risk drivers are rewarded with lower premiums,” said Greg Toczydlowski, senior vice president of product management for Travelers. “Additionally, hybrid vehicle sales have at least doubled every year since the first car was offered in the U.S. in 1999. This trend shows no signs of slowing, and Travelers intends to serve this growing market with innovative products to meet the changing needs of our customers.”
As of August 2005 U.S. roads saw 328,157 registered hybrid vehicles, according to the insurer. Most were in California, followed by Virginia, Washington and Florida. Los Angeles tops the list for most hybrids by city, followed by San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York. According to company data, hybrid owners insured with Travelers are typically married, age 41-60 with both genders represented equally.
The discount for hybrid drivers is the latest in a long series of firsts for the company that wrote the first automobile insurance policy in 1897. Other firsts include the first policy covering electronic data processing liability in 1961, the first policy to protect individuals using personal computers for online banking in 1997, and the first insurance company to offer consumers protection against identity fraud in 1999.
Until recently, hybrid ownership was confined to those attracted to new technologies and the environmentally conscious. Rising gas prices over the past few years, however, have fueled interest in the cars among general consumers. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which saw gas prices as high as three dollars a gallon, contributed to this growth trend. Governments at all levels provide numerous tax breaks for hybrid owners, and some localities offer other incentives, such as access to high occupancy vehicle lanes.
“Industry experts predict that hybrids could make up nearly 15 percent of total registered vehicles within the next 10 years. Travelers’ discount will provide further incentive for consumers contemplating a hybrid as it will help to offset the higher price of these vehicles,” said Toczydlowski.
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