A major insurer has suggested that rapid electric vehicle adoption could trigger an increase in vehicle accidents. According to Howden Group UK and Ireland boss Carl Shuker, unfamiliarity with electric vehicles’ powerful acceleration is contributing to more accidents.
The insurance executive cited data showing that electric vehicle drivers are more likely to make insurance claims of larger amounts more frequently compared to the drivers of fossil-fuel vehicle. As a result, EV drivers tend to pay higher insurance premiums than drivers with conventional internal combustion (ICE) vehicle engines. Car manufacturers and industry experts say this discrepancy in insurance premiums is also due to the high cost of replacing damaged EV components like batteries as well as a critical lack of specialized mechanics.
Even so, Shuker says unfamiliarity with more powerful electric cars is mostly responsible for the increase in claims by EV drivers. Electric vehicles have much faster acceleration and horsepower because their electric motors can generate instant linear torque. Drivers who are unfamiliar with the instant acceleration and higher horsepower are more likely to end up in accidents, Shuker says.
Shuker noted that 9% of electric vehicle drivers file accidental damage claims compared to 7% of petrol vehicle drivers. Furthermore, accidental damage claims by electric vehicle drivers tend to be 35% more costly, the insurance executive noted. Shuker explained that this is mostly due to the technology-oriented nature of modern electric vehicles and the vulnerability of EV batteries. While EV batteries have proven that they can eliminate 100% of tailpipe emissions, they are incredibly sensitive to even the most minor damage.
EV batteries also account for at least one-half of an electric car’s value, meaning even minor damage to the sensitive batteries can call for an expensive replacement. In many cases, the potential insurance payouts involved are so high that insurance companies choose to write off EVs with seemingly minor damage.
Insurers have also responded to the higher costs involved in repairing damaged electric cars by increasing insurance premiums for all EV drivers. The complexity involved in repairing damaged electric cars coupled with a shortage of trained mechanics and spare EV parts has also contributed to soaring maintenance costs for damaged electric cars.
Data from Howden shows that electric vehicle drivers are now paying at least two times more than petrol vehicle drivers to insure their vehicles, with the average EV driver paying £1,344 ($1,708) in insurance compared to £676 ($859) for ICE vehicle drivers.
The claims made by Shuker suggest that EV makers such as Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) need to do more to increase the availability of experienced mechanics for their models so that the shortage of such professionals doesn’t end up hurting the manufacturers through high insurance and repair costs.
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