Two related insurance companies, Sequoia and Personal Express, were approved on Earth Day to offer “green” car insurance in California.  They are the smallest insurers by far to win  approval.  In 2009 the larger of the two, Personal Express, was ranked 101st in California private passenger insurance market share, at about 4% of the market.  Sequoia was ranked 151st, with .05% share.

In the approved filing, specific details are given for AccuRate Express, the plan for Personal Express.  Some interesting features are:

  • Like already-launched plans by State Farm and Auto Club of Southern California (AAA), customers may self-report odometer readings
  • Unlike the other two plans, AccuRate Express does not provide for odometer reporting by a “technological device” — either factory-installed (OnStar, under State Farm’s plan) or aftermarket (a Delphi-supplied plug-in device for Auto Club, and OnStar’s rear-mirror-replacement unit for State Farm, both available later this year)
  • Instead, AccuRate Express gives a 1% larger discount compared with simple self-reporting for either: 1) providing a recent invoice with odometer recorded from an oil change, tune-up, smog test, or car repair; or 2) driving to their office to have the odometer read

Already it is clear that verified-mileage plans will offer California consumers a number of new choices for insurance.  Their challenge, as for consumers outside California, will be to sort through the details to find the lowest-cost plan for each vehicle.  At least in California that only depends on how far a vehicle is driven each year, not on how it’s driven too — at least for now.