We are now seeing a greater demand for electric and green cars across the UK for a number of reasons. Aside from oil and petrol prices rising due to tensions in the middle east, there are many environmental concerns about the use of fossil fuels, all of which add to the problem of global warming across the entire planet. Other than feeling a sense of smug self-satisfaction for doing your bit for the environment, you'll also enjoy free road tax, as well as zero congestion charges, should you be travelling through London. 30 Years on from the ill-fated 'Sinclair Z5', technology is now advanced enough to produce an electric car that won't get you laughed off the road, but what insurance options are available for this relatively new technology?
Whilst insurance for electric cars is still in it's infancy, and therefore not offered by some providers, it is still deemed a legal requirement before you can take to the road. As a result of this you can expect insurance providers for electric cars to not be as competitively priced; inevitably you'll end up paying a little more for you policy, but you can offset some of this cost potentially from money you have saved on the road tax, charging, or vehicle itself. Additionally, if you've not already stumbled across this information, the Office of Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) is currently running a UK wide scheme to provide 75% funding (up to £700), to supplement home installation of charging points. More information can be found on the Gov.uk website.
Type of Insurance
As with standard car insurance, electric car insurance falls into one of three types of cover:
- Third Party: This is the most basic type of cover and therefore the cheapest. You might also consider this the minimum legal requirement. It basically covers any other parties should you damage their vehicle or property, but offers no coverage for any costs to the damage of your vehicle
- Third Party Fire & Theft: This is second level of insurance available and covers third party damage, as mentioned above, as well as covering any damage to your vehicle in the event of fire or theft
- Fully Comprehensive: This is the highest level of policy you can acquire. It will insure you for all of the above, as well as covering yourself for any accidental damage to your car. Typically you’ll also be insured for any personal effects in the car such as your sat nav, as well as (at least third party) coverage to drive another person’s car with their permission
Things to note
As mentioned, you can expect to pay more to insure your electric car when compared with a similar petrol car. As always, this will vary depending on your circumstances and driving history. Crime for electric cars is also much lower, again helping to bring the overall policy cost down.
To give you a rough guide, using the same driver details, we ran a comparison against two similarly rated cars, and found that the electric car was only £200 annually more to insure. You'd be certain to make this sum back over a year. The Nissan leaf is reported to only cost only 2p a mile to run, compared to around 13p for it's closest petrol competitor.
Other than the standard considerations when taking out car insurance (see our beginner's guide to car insurance for full details), there are a few specific things you should check with your electric car policy. Many electric car owners lease the batteries, rather than purchase outright to reduce the cost. You'll want to carefully check that your insurer provides flexibility on this issue, or at least that the policy suits your situation, as it will have a dramatic effect on the quote price.
Your third party insurance should have you covered for any public liability, but electric cars pose slightly different risks, and due to the freshness of electric cars, some policies may lack certain details. For example does your policy cover you should an unfortunate member of the public trip over your charging cable one day?
How practical are electric cars?
Whilst you may pay slightly more for your insurance versus a similar petrol car, the circumstances and manner in which you drive and use your car will be limited somewhat by the abilities and restrictions of the electric car, and coverage would never be as expensive as that of a sports or high performance car. However the battery life and charge time will be an issue for some motorists, with the mileage and speed at which you drive affecting how quickly the battery discharges. Quite simply, electric cars aren't really suitable for long commutes or heavy mileage journeys, but are great for short travel and light usage within a city or town, often leading to much reduced running costs overall. If you're someone who needs a vehicle for more heavy usage, you may want to consider a 'hybrid car'. Check out our Hybrid Car Insurance article for more information.