Tesla starts offering car insurance, though details are still hazy

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Tesla began offering auto insurance to its vehicle owners in California, touting rates as much as 30% lower without offering much detail.

The electric-car maker is offering online quotes through its website and plans to expand the service throughout the US. While Tesla said in a blog post that it will be able to lower costs because the company "knows its vehicles best," the carmaker won’t use or record vehicle data when pricing insurance, according to its website.

    Chief executive officer Elon Musk has bristled for years at some Tesla customers’ complaints that they’re paying high insurance rates. Costlier coverage undercuts the case the company frequently makes that its cars are the safest in the industry and its driver-assistance system Autopilot helps drivers avoid crashes.

    The availability of the new service isn’t clear. A single sentence currently appears on the Tesla Insurance website: "Algorithm update in progress."

    Tesla’s insurance product will only cover the company’s vehicles and doesn’t extend to commercial use such as ride-sharing for now. The carmaker says it plans to offer commercial insurance in the future to support its own sharing network.

    Tesla shares rose 0.7% to $215.59 at the close Wednesday. The stock has plunged 35% this year.

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