Insuring my Electric Car
Posted by Tim Tucker on 8 February 2019 at 3:06 pm
If you have a south-facing house with solar PV on the roof, and batteries to absorb the excess electricity, an electric car is the obvious choice when your old petrol car becomes expensive to run. Driving the electric car is a real pleasure, though the silence takes some getting used to. You become dependent quickly on the delicacy of your right foot on the accelerator and brake, so the transition to a new way of driving is swift. Thanks to the solar PV’s and the charger in my garage, I pay nothing but sunshine to charge my car after my initial investment.
However, problems have arisen about insurance. In order to take the car away from the store, you must produce a cover note from your insurers. I gave over my insurance details which allowed me to drive my chosen 'Renault Zoe' model home. However, along with my expected insurance papers came a letter from Renault Finance, suggesting that I should tell my insurers that although the car has been bought, that my batteries are leased. Upon this prompt I told my insurers this, and was told that they could not insure my car and that I should find another insurer. I had to find another insurer, and fast…
So I tried the company who currently insure my home and they too, could not insure the car. I tried other companies and got asked some peculiar questions: “What is the cc?” asked one. I eventually found a few who were not worried by leased batteries, but the prices they offered were eye watering. So I am now insured, and feeling poorer.
Next, a dash cam also seemed like a good idea, I chose one from a motor store which also offered the installation of gadgets. However, when I asked them to do this, they declined to help, saying that as my car was an electric car, it was impossible. Checking with another motor shop and Renault, they both informed me that hardwiring dash cams into electric cars was very possible. The confusion could arise from installers being naturally wary of wiring into a 400 volt traction battery, not understanding that the car also has a traditional 12 volt one as well. Hopefully understanding of this will develop over time.
Based on my experiences and the difficulties of insuring my electric car it seems that although many of us are aware of the electric car concept there is still a knowledge gap with them being addressed confidently by motoring trades. Insurance can become more sensibly priced and the cars can become my legitimately understood in time, but it seems as though the insurance industry and motoring trades have been one step behind what customers seek with their 'green sky' thinking.
In contrast, there has been significant progress with car parks installing electric car charging ports and many councils have included attractive charging options as part of reaching environmental targets. For example, Dundee has fully embraced electric cars making benefits as attractive as possible to improve the air quality in the city, which recently received global recognition for this. These efforts will help Scotland achieve its target to phase out sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032.
Overall my advice would be to investigate insurance and battery options before picking your model. For example, it is only certain models and brands where the batteries are leased and the majority sell the batteries as part of the car outright. Apart from this, my experience of having an electric car has been positive.
About the author:
The author is one of our older contributors. In 1961, after 9 years in the heat of India, Tim bought a plot of land in England and employed an architect to put a house on it. When he asked the architect to consider two inches of fibreglass in the roof space and some double glazing, he was told not to waste his money. ‘It is much cheaper, just to turn the heat up.’ After that experience he has been obsessed by energy conservation.
Working since in winter in places such as Kazakhstan, Estonia , Finland and Romania has not changed Tim's desire to come home to warmth, and to lower heating bills.
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