Looking to Buy a Tesla Car? You May Want to Price Insurance First

Blue and white Tesla Model S full electric luxury car parked outside a dealership.
Sjo / Getty Images

When drivers upgrade their cars, they often forget that insurance costs may also rise. Insurance on luxury vehicles often costs more than less expensive counterparts. However, the safety features on these cars may help offset some of the factors that drive up insurance prices, including the vehicles’ higher prices and increased repair costs.

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The Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle was recently voted by Consumer Reports as a Top Pick for safety, with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) giving the Model 3 the Top Safety Pick+ designation, the IIHS’ highest safety award, ConsumerReports.org says.

If you’re contemplating an electric vehicle, you will save money on gas and can also qualify for federal income tax credits plus rebates of up to $7,500, according to FuelEconomy.gov.

But how much will insurance cost?

Motortrend.com recently compared prices on the website Insure.com for cars in Tesla’s S3XY line, and their BMW counterparts, when available. BMW doesn’t make an EV in their 3 Series, but the manufacturer does have a plug-in hybrid.

Overall, BMWs cost slightly less to insure, with the exception of the Tesla Model 3 Performance model. The Tesla Model 3 Performance edges out the BMW M340i and the BMW 330e plug-in hybrid on insurance costs. The Model 3 Performance costs $2,307 annually to insure, compared to $2,749 for the BMW M3.

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As we get into the higher-end models from these manufacturers, however, BMW beats out Tesla on insurance costs. The Tesla Model S costs an average of $3,673 in insurance annually, while the BMW 740i, an ICE vehicle in BMW’s 7 Series, costs $3,078.

However, compare the retail prices of $81,000 for the Tesla Model S base model and $87,000 for the 740i BMW base model, and the Tesla offers better value. Plus, the Model S range covers 412 miles on a single charge while the 740i only gets 22/29 mpg and uses gasoline. The BMW 745e plug-in hybrid costs $3,274 on average to insure, but only gets 17 miles of range per charge.

As we head into SUV territory, Tesla’s Model Y Long Range costs $2,118 annually to insure, Motortrend reports. The BMW xDrive30i costs $1,725. The Model Y Performance costs $2,227, while the comparable ICE-powered X3M40i costs $1,910 to insure and the top-of-the-line X3M raises insurance premiums to $2,074.

The Tesla Model X costs $3,355 to insure annually for the entry-level Long Range trim package, and as much as $4,025 for the high-end Plaid version, which goes 0 to 60 in roughly 2.4 seconds, Motortrend.com says. BMW’s ICE-powered X5 M, which guzzles gas at a rate of 13 / 18 mpg, costs less to insure at $2,993.

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When you’re selecting a vehicle, you’ll want to run the numbers on not just insurance, but fuel costs, repair costs and how well the car holds its value.

Also, many factors go into calculating insurance, including the driver’s claims and driving records, the driver’s credit history and the safety features on the vehicle. To get the best rates, you might consider taking a defensive driving course through your insurance provider, maintaining a good credit rating and shopping around. Tesla also offers its own insurance to California drivers, which may provide lower rates for some drivers.

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