This is a contributed blog article by Jeff Rieger outlining the basic facts and (economic) advantages of switching to an alternative car.

Looming on the horizon is a future of high gas prices and disuse for most cars on the road today. More and more drivers are getting on board with alternatively-powered vehicles and  more manufacturers are offering modern, sustainable solutions.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in 2010, vehicle dealers in the U.S. offered 56 alternative-fuel models; by the start 2013, that number had increased to 162 models on the market.

With a variety of different fuels hitting the market to replace the age-old consumption of gasoline, drivers of these new vehicles have fuel choices like electricityElectricity generation includes all technologies that turn some form of energy into useful electric energy. Electricity is a form of energy that has magnetic, radiant and chemical effects. Electric current is created by a flow of electrons., propane or hydrogen.  Regardless of the source of your car’s power, there are a handful of essential tips you need to know for insuring your alt-ride. barrel.gif

Types of Alternative Vehicles

  • Hybrid & Electric – The most common and fastest growing market of alternative vehicles.
    • Hybrid Electric – The classic hybrid system made famous by the Prius. The motor primarily runs on gas, but charges the battery with regenerative braking and will use the battery power for idling and cruising.
    • Plug-In Hybrid Electric – This hybrid’s battery charges both when plugged in and through regenerative braking. And while the battery is the primary means of power, the gas-powered engine supplements the battery pack when needed or can operate the vehicle if the battery is out of charge.
    • Electric – With the introduction of the Nissan Leaf as the first all-electric vehicle from a major manufacturer, the market for electric vehicles is growing fast. A decade ago, the only all-electric vehicles available to the buying public were produced by niche manufacturers in quantities that barely crested a few thousand units.
  • Propane
    • Savings Bonus: Lower maintenance, double engine life.
  • EthanolEthanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. Ethanol is abbreviated as EtOH, using the common organic chemistry notation of representing the ethyl group (C2H5) with Et.Bioethanol is a readily available, clean ...
  • Natural Gas
  • BiodieselA biodegradable transportation fuel for use in diesel engines that is produced through the transesterification of organically- derived oils or fats. It may be used either as a replacement for or as a component of diesel fuel.Biodiesel is a biosynthetic fuel with similar properties as mineral diesel.
    • Savings Bonus: Lower maintenance and longer engine life than gasoline enginesA petrol engine (known as a gasoline engine in North America) is an internal combustion engine with spark-ignition, designed to run on petrol and similar volatile fuels. It differs from a diesel engine in the method of mixing the fuel and air, and in the fact that it uses spark plugs to initiate ..., plus diesel and turbo-diesel vehicles hold better resale values on the used market.
  • Hydrogen – Produces only water as a byproduct and boasting efficiencyUsing less energy/electricity to perform the same function. Programs designed to use electricity more efficiently - doing the same with less. ratings that make gas vehicles look like coal ovens. Moreover hydrogen power does not rely on a potentially “dirty” utility gridA grid is a network of transmission lines, usually to distribute electric power . to get its power. Sadly, such vehicles are not yet available to the buying public and are limited to prototype and test vehicles.

Insuring Your Alternative Car

In the spring of 2012, The Hartford Insurance Company announced that it would offer a 5% discount to electric vehicle owners.  Based on demographic information, drivers of electric and hybrid vehicles are likely to be more mature, conscientious, and risk-averse than those who drive traditional gas-powered vehicles.

And the savings aren’t limited to electrics and hybrids. According to Esurance, biodiesel- and ethanol-powered vehicles can be 4% to 7.5% cheaper to insure than gas-powered variants of the same vehicle models.

Regardless of your vehicle’s fuel type, the trick to saving money on your insurance is to find an insurer who recognizes their own savings and passes those on to the consumer.

Aside from asking about savings, drivers of alternative vehicles should treat their insurance policy the same as ever—with one exception: your vehicle’s value. In the event of a total loss claim, you’ll need to establish your car’s value for a final settlement.

From government incentives, fuel economyThe energy efficiency of a particular vehicle as a ratio of distance traveled per unit of fuel consumed., emissionsEmissions of greenhouse gases, greenhouse gas precursors, and aerosols associated with human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, land-use changes, livestock, fertilisation, etc. (IPCC), and lower insurance premiums, there are a number of reasons to switch from gas-powered vehicles to their alternatives. If your insurer doesn’t recognize such savings, consider switching to an insurer who sees beyond the fog of gas-powered engines!

Full article available here.