With the rise in fuel prices and the negative environmental impact associated with traditional fuels, such as petrol and diesel, electric cars are certainly a responsible choice for the environment.
The UK Government has committed to reducing emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050, under the Climate Change Act. And, according to the independent Committee on Climate Change, a switch to alternatively-powered vehicles could play a major part in helping the UK meet these targets.
As an incentive, the government is offering plug-in grants of up to £3,500 to help drivers purchase brand new low-emission vehicles. The 2017 car tax band overhaul means electric vehicles (EVs) under £40,000 are also the only new cars exempt from paying road tax.
However, there are a number of implications you should be aware of in terms of the practicalities of insuring EVs.
- Not all insurance companies offer electric car insurance and you may have to switch insurance providers.
- You may find that as electric cars are quite new, they are still classed as specialised. This means they have specialised parts, which can be expensive and require specialised mechanics to repair them if they break. Unfortunately, this is something that may increase your insurance premium.
- There is an increased risk of collisions, as electric engines make little to no noise, so pedestrians and other road users may not hear the cars approach.
- Another issue is the battery, are these owned or leased from the manufacturers? A few manufacturers initially only sold their new electric vehicles with the option of leasing the car’s batteries. This gave the peace of mind that, if the car’s battery were to drop below 75% of its original capacity, the manufacturer would replace it for free. However, it also significantly increases complexity around insurance. For example, if you were involved in a collision and the car’s battery is damaged, it is unclear whether the driver or the manufacturer would be responsible for replacing it.
- There are also issues around charging EVs, as the cars need to be plugged in with cables for long periods, often from roadside charging points. In this case, the driver owes a duty of care to members of the public that could trip and injure themselves on the charging cable. Some policies may not cover this as standard.
Vehicle technology is ever improving, there is already news of wireless induction charging. Once the vehicle technology becomes more mainstream, maintenance, parts and insurance are likely to decrease.
In short, the best things about electric cars are low running costs, ease of driving and the clean conscience that comes from going green.
On the down side, they are expensive to buy, and longer-term reliability is unproven. They also have a comparatively limited range – and even using a rapid or fast charger takes a lot longer than filling up with fuel.
Drivers simply need to be aware that there are some major differences to traditional motor policies when researching insurance for electric vehicles and understand that EV insurance policies are still evolving.
If in doubt, it is always worth speaking to ProAktive to make sure your EV insurance policy will provide you with effective cover.
By Samantha Geddes Cert CII – Commercial Account Handler