In February, Mark Bova purchased a used 2018 Tesla Model S. Before leaving the dealer, he bought insurance from Tesla itself, finding the initial $93 monthly premium “really reasonable.”
Sixteen days later, as he drove along the Capital Beltway to his Maryland home, he engaged Autopilot, Tesla’s automated driving system. The car started beeping and lurched left — striking a median and flipping. He escaped through a window as the car filled with smoke. An ambulance rushed him to the hospital with back injuries that later required surgery.
He said he waited seven months for payment on the totaled vehicle and still hasn’t been compensated for about $50,000 in medical expenses. That required a call to the automaker’s product liability department because the crash involved Autopilot, he was told. He waited on hold for hours and got hung up on four times, he said. When someone finally answered, the person promised another callback in two weeks. Four months later, he’s still waiting.
Does not appear to be an isolated incident.
Bova isn’t the only customer Tesla Insurance has angered, according to scores of complaints in social media and online posts, including on a Better Business Bureau website, and Reuters interviews with half a dozen policyholders. While some customers in online posts have praised the insurer’s low premiums, others, like Bova, complain of waiting weeks or months for payouts and repairs, and an inability to reach claims adjusters.
Despite promising to revolutionize automobile insurance, Tesla has at times run the business on a shoestring budget, at one point with only about a dozen adjusters who were quickly overwhelmed by hundreds of claims, according to several sources familiar with the insurer’s operations.
The Ohio Department of Insurance at least twice this year determined that Tesla had violated the state’s insurance regulations in handling claims, including for a lack of timely communications with a policyholder, according to correspondence obtained by Reuters through a public records request. The department was considering opening formal investigations, the records show.
It is hard starting up an automobile business. Apparently so is entering the automobile insurance market.