Tesla Is Rolling Out a New Insurance Program With Rates Calculated by Surveilling Drivers

Tesla Is Rolling Out a New Insurance Program With Rates Calculated by Surveilling Drivers
Photo: Spencer Platt, Getty Images

After two years of offering car insurance to drivers across California, Tesla’s officially bringing a similar offering to clientele in its new home state of Texas. As Electrek first reported, the big difference between the two is how drivers’ premiums are calculated: in California, the prices were largely determined by statistical evaluations. In Texas, your insurance costs will be calculated in real-time, based on your driving behaviour.

Tesla says it grades this behaviour using the “Safety Score” feature — the in-house metric designed by the company in order to estimate a driver’s chance of future collision. These scores were recently rolled out in order to screen drivers that were interested in testing out Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” software, which, like the Safety Score itself, is currently in beta. And while the self-driving software release date is, um, kind of up in the air for now, Tesla drivers in the lone-star state can use their safety score to apply for quotes on Tesla’s website as of today.

As Tesla points out in its own documents, relying on a single score makes the company a bit of an outlier in the car insurance market. Most traditional insurers round up a driver’s costs based on a number of factors that are wholly unrelated to their actual driving: depending on the state, this can include age, gender, occupation, and credit score, all playing a part in defining how much a person’s insurance might cost.

Tesla, on the other hand, relies on a single score, which the company says get tallied up based on five different factors: the number of forward-collision warnings you get every 1,609 km, the number of times you “hard brake,” how often you take too-fast turns, how closely you drive behind other drivers, and how often they take their hands off the wheel when Autopilot is engaged.

In other words, if you’re creeping up on cars in front of you and doing doughnuts in your driveway on the regular, chances are your Safety Score will be low, and your premiums will be high. And if you’re going to act like your self-driving car can be operated without your dang hands on the steering wheel, maybe this insurance isn’t for you. In fact, for all of our sakes, maybe you shouldn’t have a Tesla at all.