Switching to an EV means more than using a plug instead of a pump. You might start charging up every night instead of when it gets nearly empty, like you might treat a petrol-powered vehicle. Or you might decide to get an obnoxious number plate reminding everyone around you that you laugh in the face of oil.
Whatever your daily habits change to, one thing you may overlook is the small ways your insurance changes.
Stuff spoke to a few different insurance providers to see how insurance plans change when it’s an electric vehicle rather than a combustion vehicle at the centre of it all.
According to Tower Insurance, the past six months (roughly since the Government announced the Clean Car Discount), has seen the number of EV policies grow by 40 per cent.
“Tower’s EV policies follow the same policy wording that we offer for petrol and diesel-powered vehicles. We base the pricing on several variables such as the vehicle model, the vehicle’s value, where the vehicle is parked, cost of repair and what we know about the driver and their claims history,” said Tower’s chief underwriting officer, Ron Mudaliar.
“Tower offers insurance for a wide range of EVs including battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). We’re working quickly to gather local data on the cost of repairs as new car models and technologies are introduced to the market, to ensure we offer the right insurance product at the right price for our customers.”
It is, however, important to insure your EV for its original price, before you apply any Clean Car Discount rebate, as this is what will be repaid in the event of a total loss claim.
Tower confirmed that while it does not cover general battery failures (that falls to the manufacturer’s warranty), if it is damaged or compromised during an accident, an OEM replacement will be installed at an authorised agent.
Meanwhile, AMI Insurance will also replace the battery if it is damaged as a result of an accident or fire, water immersion, natural disaster, malicious damage or theft.
Finally, AA said it has a special Electric Vehicle Package that can be added to a policy. This covers auxiliary engines, drive units, dual chargers and the battery. AA will replace one EV battery replacement, paying for up to $10,000 of the cost if the vehicle is 10 years old or less, or 50 per cent of the claim, minus the excess if it is older than 10 years.
One of the biggest changes with EVs has to do with towing. Generally, while most EVs do have a neutral gear, it’s best to avoid towing by lifting the driven wheels, as forcing the wheels to move can damage the motor.
Most roadside assistance programmes cover electric vehicles, with no additional costs. It’s unclear if these use flatbed vehicle transporters for EVs or traditional hook and chain tow truck, but we would recommend requesting a flatbed.
In any case, Tower told Stuff that New Zealand Roadside Assistance (NZRA), a third party for roadside assistance, says the majority of their clients require a flatbed vehicle transporter, which indicates that most, if not all insurance providers will default to a flatbed anyway.
The AA has a special Rapid Recovery Vehicle in Auckland, which can “deploy its trailer and lift all four wheels of a broken-down vehicle weighing up to 2.5 tonnes (covering most personal vehicles) in about 10-15 minutes, removing the need to call for a tow truck if the vehicle is unable to be mobilised at the roadside.”
It also has a mobile EV charger service in Wellington, which can give electric vehicles a boost to get home.
All the insurers Stuff spoke to said that while general and EV car insurance generally align, customers should ensure they get the right EV-specific benefits for them.
And as a final note, if one of those rare occasions (that everyone seems to worry about) where an EV battery spontaneously catches fire while charging occurs, that would be covered under the car insurance policy. Any damage to a garage or house would fall under the home policy. Tower confirmed to Stuff that there have been no such claims yet.