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Hybrid car insurance explained

Fact-checked by Molly Dyson

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Hybrid cars are popular because combining an electric motor with a traditional one typically means lower fuel consumption. They’re cheaper to run and tax than petrol cars and are more environmentally friendly. Drivers of hybrid cars also don’t have to worry about range in the same way that drivers of fully electric cars do, as these vehicles have a traditional engine as backup.

However, hybrid cars usually cost more to insure than petrol cars (although they’re cheaper to insure than fully electric cars). You should consider insurance costs if you’re thinking of buying a hybrid car.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about hybrid car insurance.

What is a hybrid car?

A petrol car has an internal combustion engine made up of cylinders. Inside these cylinders, petrol and air ignite to create the energy needed to move the car. Diesel cars work in a similar way but use diesel as fuel. 

Both petrol and diesel emissions are harmful for the environment, but diesel is worse.

Electric cars function by plugging into a charging point and taking electricity from the grid. This electricity is stored in rechargeable batteries that power an electric motor. Electric cars need to be recharged regularly – there’s no petrol or diesel backup.

Hybrid cars incorporate two energy sources: a petrol engine and an electric motor. You can get diesel hybrids too, but these are quite rare.

Hybrids consume less fuel and produce less CO2 than petrol or diesel cars, but they aren’t as environmentally friendly as fully electric vehicles, which produce zero exhaust emissions.

icons8-hybrid-car-48

Full hybrid

A full (or parallel) hybrid uses both a combustion engine (petrol or diesel) and an electric motor (powered by a battery) to drive the car, either simultaneously or independently. A full hybrid is not plugged in to recharge; the battery is recharged by running the combustion engine. The Toyota Prius is a popular full hybrid.

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Mild hybrid

Mild hybrids use an electric motor alongside a combustion engine, but the two power sources can’t be used independently of one another – they always work together. The Honda Accord Hybrid is a common mild hybrid.

icons8-electric-vehicle-50

Plug-in hybrid

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is a hybrid that can be plugged in to charge its electric battery. PHEVs provide a much better electric-only range than you’d get from a full hybrid, and you can run them in just electric mode. The Toyota RAV4 is an example of a PHEV.

The pros and cons of hybrid cars

There are several pros and cons of hybrid cars. How much these will impact your decision to buy one will depend on what type of driving you do – hybrids are great around town but potentially less economical on long motorway journeys.

How you feel about the environment is another factor that will influence your decision between a hybrid vehicle or a traditionally fuelled car. 

Pros of hybrid cars

  • Lower emissions than conventional fuel-powered cars, so they’re better for the environment
  • No range anxiety – unlike fully electric cars, there’s no need to rely on electric charging points
  • Cheaper fuel costs and reduced wear and tear, especially if you use electric power for short journeys
  • Lower emissions with the security of a petrol backup
  • Cheaper to buy than pure electric cars, depending on the make and model
  • Eligible for the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, which reduces the cost of installing a charging point if you’re a renter or flat owner who drives a PHEV
  • Exempt from London congestion charges if you drive a hybrid that emits less than 75g/km of CO2 and has a minimum zero-emission capable range of 20 miles
  • Less demand on the brakes due to regenerative braking, so brake pads will last longer than on petrol/diesel cars
  • Very responsive at lower speeds, meaning quick acceleration at traffic lights and nippy city driving

Cons of hybrid cars

  • Not as environmentally friendly as fully electric cars, as they still produce CO2 and other emissions like petrol or diesel cars (just less of them)
  • Extra weight can reduce fuel efficiency, increasing running costs
  • More expensive to buy and insure than petrol cars
  • PHEVs need to be charged more often than electric cars and have less range
  • Running costs are higher than for fully electric cars, as you’ll still need to fill up with petrol or diesel
  • High maintenance costs if things go wrong with the engine and or battery 
  • Decreased performance and shorter periods between charges as batteries deteriorate over time 
  • Less powerful than petrol or diesel cars
  • Not exempt from road tax like electric cars (although electric cars will pay road tax from April 2025)

Are hybrid cars cheaper to insure?

Hybrid car insurance works in the same way as insurance for petrol or diesel cars. 

Insurance premiums are calculated based on several factors, including:

  • The make, model and value of your car 
  • The insurance group your car is in
  • Your age and location 
  • Your driving history 
  • Your previous insurance claims

Hybrid car drivers can choose from three levels of cover: third party, third party fire and theft, and fully comprehensive. If you need to make a claim, the process is the same for all three types.

Hybrid car insurance often costs more than standard car insurance, but the gap is getting smaller as more people buy hybrid cars, the market becomes more competitive and insurers have more claims data on which to manage risk and premiums. Insurance for hybrids is generally cheaper than electric car insurance. 

The main reason hybrid cars cost more to insure than petrol/diesel cars is because they tend to be more expensive to buy. Repairs and replacement parts can also be more costly. 

Which insurance group are hybrid cars in?

Insurance costs for a particular hybrid model will depend on which insurance group it’s in. Car insurance groups in the UK are numbered from 1 to 50, with Group 1 cars being the cheapest to insure and Group 50 the most expensive. 

Many hybrid cars fall into the higher insurance groups because they have specialist parts and may need specialist repairs.

One of the biggest influences on the amount you’ll pay is the make and model of your hybrid vehicle. Insurance costs also depend on the body style and trim level. 

A car trim is a collection of features bundled into a package and sold as an upgrade over a car’s standard form. Premium trim levels include additional features, technology and performance enhancements. These cost more to repair or replace in the event of an accident, so vehicles with these additions cost more to insure.

What level of car insurance will I need for a hybrid car?

As with other types of cars, hybrid car drivers can choose from three levels of insurance. 

Third party cover

Third party insurance is the minimum level of car insurance you need to legally drive on UK roads. This type of cover will only pay out for claims made by other people, such as your passengers or the drivers of other cars that were involved in an accident.

Third party insurance won’t cover damage to your car or your medical bills if you’re injured.

Third party, fire and theft cover

Third party, fire and theft insurance provides cover for third parties (other people and their vehicles) but will also cover your hybrid car if it’s stolen or damaged in a fire.

It won’t, however, pay out if you’re injured or your car needs repairing after an accident.

Comprehensive cover

Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your hybrid car in various scenarios, not just when others are at fault. This includes damage incurred by accidents, vandalism or natural events, such as storms and floods.

Comprehensive insurance also provides coverage if your hybrid vehicle is stolen or damaged by fire. Many comprehensive policies offer some form of personal injury cover, assisting with medical costs if you’re hurt in an accident. They may also provide compensation if your personal possessions inside the car are damaged or stolen. 

Hybrid car insurance FAQs

You don’t need specialist insurance for a hybrid car – you can compare policies and premiums on price comparison websites as normal. 

Before you buy, check that your chosen policy includes cover for your car’s battery and charging cables against accidental damage, fire and theft.

You might also be able to add on accidental damage protection, which covers your car if it’s damaged by an electrical surge while charging.

If you have comprehensive insurance, your hybrid car’s battery should be covered against damage caused in an accident, as well as theft and fire. However, your battery won’t be covered for damage caused by wear and tear or a fault – your car or battery warranty should cover you for this.

Unlike electric cars, hybrid cars are not exempt from road tax. How much you’ll pay depends on when your car was first registered. If the registration date was between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017, you won’t have to pay road tax if your car’s CO2 emissions are less than 100g/km. Under this system, road tax for hybrids is £10 cheaper than for petrol or diesel cars.

A new car tax regime came into effect on 1 April 2017 and applies to vehicles registered on 1 April 2017 or after. Under this system, the first year a car is on the road, car tax is still related to the car’s emissions. After that, road tax is zero for cars with emissions less than 50g/km, and hybrid cars are charged less for tax than petrol and diesel cars.

The car tax regime will change again from 1 April 2025, when electric car drivers will start to pay road tax.

The sale of new petrol or diesel hybrid cars will be banned from 2035 (pushed back from 2030) as part of the government’s Road to Zero plan. 

From this date, the only new cars that can be sold will be fully electric. However, you can still drive an older hybrid car or buy a used one.

emma lunn

Emma Lunn

Money Writer

Emma Lunn is a multi-award winning journalist who specialises in personal finance and consumer issues. 

With more than 18 years’ experience in personal finance, Emma has covered topics including mortgages, first-time buyers, leasehold, banking, debt, budgeting, broadband, energy, pensions and investments. 

Emma’s one of the most prolific freelance personal finance journalists with a back catalogue of work in newspapers such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday, and the Mirror. 

As a freelancer she has also completed various in-house contracts at The Guardian, The Independent, Mortgage Solutions, Orange, and Moneywise. She also writes regularly for specialist magazines and websites such as Property Hub, Mortgage Strategy and YourMoney.com. 

She has a real passion for helping people learn about money – especially when many people are struggling to get by in today’s challenging economic climate – and prides herself on simplifying complex subjects.