When considering insurance for an electric or “EV” car, the important thing to remember is that the basic rules apply in terms of qualifying for a good rate. In the vast majority of cases, insurance companies do not yet have EV-specific policies and will continue to weigh your driving record, age, and occupation as factors of equal or greater importance to the make and model of your car.
That being said, however, anyone who has ever driven and attempted to insure a high-performance vehicle or sports car knows that perceptions of safety are a factor in premium calculation. Almost all insurers will reward a 10% discount for hybrids and electrics — you may have to press the point and ask, but that level has become the current industry standard.
The whole business of issuing insurance policies is based on risk assessment. As smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles rise to the top of the automotive market, EVs convey an even more solid, dependable, and responsible image. Ten percent may not seem like a big discount, but when you consider that the cost of insuring your car is actually 25% of the fixed cost of owning that car, you’ll realize quickly that no discount is ever too small.
Although most consumers think first about raising their deductible to get a better premium, that’s not the safest thing to do in the middle of a recession when you need the financial protection your policy provides in the event of an accident. Layering many small discounts or savings, like paying quarterly or annually to avoid statement fees, and receiving small discounts for onboard safety systems, military service, occupation, age, and driving record can result in significant savings.
The one consideration where EVs stand apart from other cars is the cost of repair. Currently, these models are relatively rare and many of their components are not standard, “off the shelf” inventory. Specially-trained technicians will likely be needed to make necessary repairs with expensive parts that will have to be ordered. You’re not just going to be able to tool into your neighborhood garage or body shop. That will change as EVs become more prevalent on American roads, but it will take time.
Given the high cost of repair, having a good driving record and going after all the available discounts for which you qualify is really the only way to get a premium break on an EV better than the industry-standard 10 percent. Specific policies are being written for Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, Low-Speed Vehicles, and golf carts and EV policies are sure to follow.
Currently, however, the insurance industry hasn’t really caught up to the evolution of all-electrics. Drivers are advised to continue to monitor that situation. As cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf become available, and cities partner with automakers to develop charging stations for EVs, more drivers will be attracted to those models and more electric-specific insurance policies will evolve.