Insuring Your Hybrid: Fiction

First, let's address some rumors about insuring hybrid cars. One of the main concerns people have about hybrids is that they're less safe than other cars because of the lightweight materials from which they're constructed. Some fear that this gas-saving measure could potentially lead to more injuries and greater damage to the car, thus increasing insurance premiums.

The truth is that hybrids are no less fragile than other small cars. A 2008 bumper test done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), meant to simulate low-speed parking lot collisions, found that the total repair cost of four bumper tests (full front, front corner, full rear and rear corner) was $9,070 for the Toyota Prius. Compare this to the non-hybrid Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Rabbit, which had repair bills of $8,976 and $9,511, respectively. Admittedly, this is far more than the $3,031 it cost to fix the Ford Focus, but the point is that a fragile bumper is not a problem limited to hybrids [source: Welsh].

Hybrids also perform as well as or better than other cars in high-speed crashes. The 2010 Toyota Prius, Ford Escape Hybrid, Mercury Mariner Hybrid, and Mazda Tribute Hybrid all received the IIHS Top Safety Pick Award. This means that they earned top scores in the front- and side-crash tests and the whiplash protection tests. Each of these vehicles also features electronic stability control, which helps drivers maintain control during abrupt maneuvers and has been known to reduce the incidence of fatal crashes by one-third. Such high safety ratings on these vehicles suggest that there's nothing inherently dangerous about hybrids.