Elon Musk is prepared for his Tesla Insurance to blast off.
Next stop: the Lone Star State.
But Tesla's founder might not receive a Texas-sized welcome in the state's collision repair industry.
Musk, whose Tesla Insurance currently is available only in California, tweeted his intention to move it into Texas just two weeks ago.
But this has experienced the works for quite a while.
Ben Gonzalez of the Texas Department of Insurance said his office already has approved all of the forms received from Redpoint County Mutual, an insurance company for which Tesla continues to be appointed as the managing general agent. Therefore, Redpoint County Mutual, located in Austin, Texas' capitol city, will be able to sell Tesla Insurance.
Some of the forms TDI received from Redpoint County Mutual were filed this past year yet others captured.
“We've reviewed those forms like we'd any others and those have been put into action,” Gonzalez said.
That's no surprise to Burl Richards, obama from the Auto Body Association of Texas who said he has never heard about Redpoint County Mutual.
“I'd be curious to understand if TDI ever rejects anybody,” said Richards, whose Burl's Collision Center in Henderson is Tesla certified. “Believe me, I've had a lot of communications with TDI and I've got a bit of ongoing right now and I'm just likely to be honest about it – I've had meetings with TDI personally in Austin. I've had meetings with the commissioner of TDI and – allow me to place it this way, it is extremely demoralizing.
“Just because they approved it, from my perspective, whoop-de-do. I am not shocked.”
ABAT Executive Director Jill Tuggle said her association has already established “its thumb around the pulse” of Tesla because it moved its headquarters to Austin from California in 2022 because Musk didn't like his company’s treatment for the reason that state.
ABAT hosted a tradeshow a week ago, but Tuggle said studying on Tesla Insurance coverage is “next on my list.”
“Right now we're type of within the research phases,” Tuggle said. “I've been really focused on our trade event, but my next priority would be to type of start looking into mtss is a little bit more so that if we need to take legislative action or speak with the Department of Insurance or talk to our attorney general, we are able to start,” Tuggle said.
Richards said he has very little confidence within the Texas attorney general's office because he does in TDI.
Richards doesn't yet know a great deal about Tesla Insurance, but his main concern about its expansion into Texas comes from a letter he received as a Tesla-certified shop owner in regards to a year and a half ago.
The automaker is definitely worried about steep insurance costs for which are classified as its luxury cars.
“[The letter] said that they were likely to pay us a smaller rate, and that i wasn't Comfortable with that,” Richards said. “I don't understand the best way to expect a store to provide superior service and purchase all that training and certification after which tell somebody, 'Hey, we're going to pay you exactly the same thing that the insurance provider would pay to fix a Kia or a Hyundai.'
“My posted rate, I don't charge anymore to correct a Tesla than I do any other vehicle, but the letter I got said they wanted me to charge less.
“And I have a problem with that.”
So do the shop owners of other Tesla-certified collision repair shops in Texas, he explained.
“I know some shops that although they've committed to the gear and training, they're just likely to bow out,” Richards said.
“For me, it's a wait and see game. After the day, let's hope that [Tesla Insurance will pay] for all the necessary processes and procedures that they recommend, No. 1, but No. 2, let's wait and watch what they want related to the labor rates, too.”
Richards insists he's not picking on Tesla.
“Look, as long as an insurer covers all of the necessary processes and procedures to indemnity the insured or claimant, I don't care who the insurance company is,” he explained.
“And I'd rather not sit here and seem like I'm bashing on Tesla, because I am not. It's like anybody else, every other car manufacturer, nobody's perfect. They built a very, really awesome vehicle. And we're proud of the truth that we're certified and may repair them.
“But if they are going to be within the insurance business just like any other insurance company, they're the bill payers.
“They really should not be dictating what rates are being paid with regards to repairing that vehicle.”