If you’re considering going electric, can you just pick a policy with ‘electric’ or ‘EV’ in the title, or do you need to look a bit deeper than that?
We asked Alex HC Borgnis, Head of Motor Underwriting at LV= General Insurance. She’s been spending plenty of time behind the wheel in different electric cars and told us what electric car drivers really need to know before they buy a policy.
Hi Alex - if a driver’s getting their first electric car, do all electric policies do the same thing?
Well, an insurance policy should cover the same main things whether you’re driving petrol, diesel or electric – accidental damage, fire and theft. These elements of cover are what most drivers expect, including the legal requirement of third party liability cover, so the cover for any vehicle type will be pretty similar…
There are some big differences, though. The most obvious one for me is charging cables: people do trip over them, so you need third party liability. Theft is less common, especially as the cables lock into the car, but it’s worth making sure you’re covered.
What are the differences between claims for electric cars and petrol or diesel vehicles?
You’re not going to accidentally fill up an electric car with the wrong fuel, so make sure you’re not paying for misfuelling cover. I’d expect a specific electric car insurance product to not have extra cover that is not needed, and maybe instead offer recovery to the nearest charging station or roadside charging if you run out of charge. Check your policy - you don’t want to pay for cover you can’t use!
What about the batteries – they’re a big part of a car’s overall value, so is there anything special you need to look for?
Definitely – always check your battery cover before you buy a policy. Modern policies just treat them as part of the car, but I’ve seen some insurers exclude them, or add extra terms or excesses. They can be up to 50% of the car’s value, so it means battery problems can lead to a write-off. So check the details before you buy.
Are there any other risks that aren’t obvious when you go electric?
The big one is that electric cars are so different to drive. We see people making minor claims for bumps and scrapes because they’re not used to the new technology.
Electric cars accelerate much faster than traditional cars at low speeds. The acceleration you get from 0-10mph is incredible – and the regenerative brakes are so much sharper than traditional brakes too. There are also driver assistance systems: things like lane assist and adaptive cruise control. And one-pedal driving means a car doesn’t glide when you take your foot off the pedal – it stops.
If you're new to electric, you might like to find somewhere safe to get used to the car, its features and how it drives.
Now I know what to look for in a policy – do you have any tips on choosing an insurer?
Make sure your insurer has loads of experience handling claims with electric cars. If they don’t, then a little claim can turn into a really big hassle. For example, if a repair shop’s fixing a little dent and don’t know to isolate the battery or use the right equipment, a small claim can become a big headache.
Maybe look at insurers with their own sites or dedicated repair network too. A good place to find out is on owners’ websites and forums. People love to talk about their experiences - good and bad.
Is there anything else someone should think about before they go electric?
"It’s really important to check the whole package and do your research. Don’t get too hung up on the badge on the front. You might be comparing a premium car brand launching its first electric vehicle to the second or third generation from a more basic brand."(Alex HC Borgnis, 2022)
The more experienced manufacturer might not be one you’d normally consider, but that legacy experience might have led to a safer and more secure vehicle which might even stand up a little bit better in a crash. You’ll often see that in the insurance costs – a vehicle from a more established manufacturer might be cheaper to insure.
Alex HC Borgnis is the Head of Motor Underwriting at LV= General Insurance. She knows car insurance inside-out and keeps a keen eye on what’s going to happen in motor markets, as well as the big changes in technology, regulation and how people use their cars.