We Do Not Want to Insure
Electric Cars

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A number of insurers are deciding that insuring electric cars is too risky for them.

Thatcham Research is the motor insurer's automotive research centre. Jonathan Hewitt is the chief executive. He said recently that lack of information about the cost of repairing damaged batteries was increasing car insurance premiums and resulting in some insurers refusing to provide cover. They don't want the business.

The problem is that there is no reliable way of telling whether a battery is compromised or damaged; for example, after an accident.

A compromised battery can undergo thermal runaway, which can end with the device catching fire. This is leading to cars being written off after minor collisions because of the difficulty of ensuring that the battery is still intact and fit to use.

According to the insurance website Confused.com, EV premiums rose 72% in the year to September. The increase for petrol and diesel cars was 29%.

The sharp rise in the cost of insuring EVs was triggered by the government recommendation that they should be kept 50ft apart in repair yards because of the danger that they might catch fire and set other vehicles alight. Government guidelines say that electric vehicles with damaged batteries should be quarantined (where, I wonder?) to prevent battery fires. Such fires are hard (and sometimes impossible) to extinguish.

The London Fire Brigade has said that lithium battery fires are the fastest-growing fire risk in their area.

Thatcham Research said that insurers would need to spend an additional 900 million on quarantine facilities for damaged cars to meet the required safety measures.

The MP Greg Smith, a member of the Transport Committee, has pointed out that a lack of battery diagnostics means that EVs are not yet suitable for mass production. We should also be looking at technologies like synthetic fuels and hydrogen which may provide a better way forward.

21 Oct 23


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