By 2040 the government expects all new cars on sale in Britain to be either electric or hybrid. But drivers who want to embrace these cars for their low emissions had better prepare themselves for an electric shock with a difference: high insurance bills.
A study of electric cars currently on sale has shown that drivers who want to ‘go green’ will have to pay 45 per cent more for insurance than the average motorist.
It means the rising number of drivers buying electric cars could see any potential savings, such as lower ‘fuel’ bills, wiped out by costly cover. So far this year, sales of electric vehicles (EVs) have risen by 37 per cent over 2016. Here’s what drivers need to know before switching to an electric car.
Electric cars: are they more expensive to insure?
Despite many drivers choosing an EV to reduce their cost of motoring, a survey conducted this summer by The Times and comparethemarket.com found otherwise. The average quote for an electric car was £1070, compared with the national average premium of £740.
Simon McCulloch, director of comparethemarket.com, said the added expense could be enough to stop drivers switching to EVs. “This data shows that potential owners need to consider other factors too, particularly for the entry-level electric models, where the cost of insurance could swing the purchasing decision back in favour of a petrol or diesel model,” said McCulloch.
Give me some perspective on EV insurance
Look no further than the most affordable small electric car: the Renault Zoe. It was more expensive to cover than a luxury model costing about five times as much.
Cover for a Renault Zoe was found to average £991. A Mercedes-Benz S-Class is on average just £798.
The most expensive EV to insure is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most expensive electric car on sale: the Tesla Model S (pictured above, during crash testing). It costs an average of £1859.
Why do electric cars cost more?
Insurers put increased electric car premiums down to the cars’ higher purchase price, the need for specialist equipment and repairs, and a lack of data on driver behaviour. As more drivers plug in to electric, experts predict that the insurance market will undergo a degree of correction.
Rob Cummings, head of Motor and Liability at the Association of British Insurers (ABI) puts the high cost of insurance down to two main factors. First, the complex parts used within the cars, such as the batteries and electric motors. Second, the specialist skills needed to repair them after an accident.
“As this technology becomes more mainstream, drivers can expect this pressure on insurance premiums to reduce,” said Cummings. “We would always advise customers to shop around to ensure they are getting the best deal possible when renewing their insurance policy.”
Advice before buying an electric car
Buying an electric car should be no different to buying any car. Drivers should research all potential running costs, or they could be in for a bumpy ride.
Costs include insurance, whether road tax applies, the price of having any wall box charger installed, the rate paid for electricity and joining any third party national charging scheme, the cost of having the car serviced and its predicted fall in value over time.
The UK’s best-selling electric cars in 2017
The most popular EV with Britain’s drivers is Nissan’s Leaf. Last year, more than 12,800 were registered. Taking second spot was the BMW i3, which managed 4,457 sales. Next came the Renault Zoe, with 4,339 sales. The Tesla Model S was fourth, at 3,312 sales. In fifth place came the Nissan e-NV200, a commercial EV.