March 26, 2009

The market for Electric vehicles (EVs) may at last be starting to achieve critical mass. With Nissan and Tata both apparently set to begin EV production in the UK, the beginnings of a network of recharging points springing up in major cities, and with London mayor Boris Johnson Twittering on about “big plans on electric cars” after test driving a Tesla Roadster, EVs are finally starting to look more attractive.

But enthusiastic new green motorists could be in for a shock (hopefully not of the electrical kind) when they start looking for insurance. Insurers are wary because of the lack of statistics on EVs and so tend to lump them in with kit cars or one-offs, i.e. charging higher premiums.

Specialist broker Adrian Flux has set up an electric car division to ensure that when EVs buyers will have at least one option for cheaper insurance.

“We’ve been insuring electric vehicles for many years,” says Gerry Bucke, commercial director at Adrian Flux. “However, most of them to date have been low-performance models, such as milk floats or the cute mini-cars like the G-Whiz. They are still mostly a niche market for city commuting and shopping, and aren’t seen as risky.

“But the new generation is a different matter. They are quieter than petrol cars and with very fast acceleration – in the case of the Tesla, 0-60 in less than four seconds, without the usual roar of a performance car. This is going to change how people behave. Not just the EV drivers themselves, but other drivers, and pedestrians too.”

Bucke says that that a 2009 Tesla Roadster, owned and driven by a 48-year-old man in the Norfolk NR20 area with five years’ no-claims, should cost about £750 to insure comprehensively. A roughly equivalent petrol-driven performance car, the Porsche 911 Turbo, would cost perhaps slightly more – around £800 – for a similar level of cover.

“Until insurance companies get the statistics, they might be tempted to load premiums just to be on the safe side. We want to make sure customers aren’t penalised for going green, and we’ll be working hard to help the insurance companies get it right,” says Bucke.


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