Electric cars are cheaper to run than gasoline-powered cars, with the all-electric Nissan Leaf, for example, costing $2.75 to fully charge vs about $2.50 for a gallon of gas.
Insuring an electric car, however, is often more expensive.
Some factors will increase or decrease the cost of insurance: your driving history, coverage you’ve selected, and the type of gas car you have now. And shopping for insurance can lead to less of a price jump.
But overall, electric car drivers should expect their insurance rates to increase. A comparison by Value Penguin found insurance rates to be 18 to 32 percent higher for electric over gas cars.
Here are some reasons why insurance for electric cars can be higher:
More car to insure
Electric cars are often more expensive than gas-powered cars. Tax refunds and other incentives can make the initial price of an electric car cheaper or at least competitive with other cars, but insurers are looking at the replacement cost of a car when determining insurance rates.
And just like every other car, they’ll base the true replacement cost on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or MSRP.
The electric version of a car can be 25 percent to almost double what its gas counterpart costs to buy. That’s more costs for an insurer to pay if your electric car needs to be replaced.
Higher repair costs
An electric car doesn’t have as many moving parts as a gasoline car does, but what it has can be more expensive to replace after an accident.
Until electric cars become the norm and repair costs drop, for now they’re usually more expensive to repair than gas cars. That’s because the batteries and other high-tech parts are more costly to replace, and there aren’t as many mechanics trained to fix electric cars.
Collision coverage is an optional part of an auto insurance policy that pays for damage to your car in an accident. After paying your insurance deductible, you won’t have to pay for repairs. But your insurance company will factor in the higher costs of repairing an electric car in the rates it charges you, so your monthly premiums may be higher.
Without collision coverage, you’d be on the hook for all of the repairs after an accident. If your car is financed, expect your lender to require collision coverage.
Small cars damaged more
Not all electric cars are small, but many are. Small cars usually suffer more extensive damage in an accident than larger ones, leading to more repairs.
All things being equal, people in bigger, heavier vehicles are better protected than those in smaller, lighter vehicles, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS.
The longer distance from the front of the vehicle to the occupant compartment gives a bigger vehicle an advantage in frontal crashes, which account for half of auto deaths, the IIHS says. The longer distance increases the crush zone, lowering the forces on the occupants.
Without the need to ever visit a gas station again, electric car owners may be inclined to drive more.
Commuters may drive more because they’re saving money on gas, leading to more miles and a higher chance of getting in an accident. Your car insurer likely asks you each year how many miles you drive per year, and more miles will often lead to higher insurance rates.
Look at homeowners insurance
Some electric car owners install a charging station at their home that can more quickly charge a car than a regular garage outlet can.
If a charging station at home is vandalized or broken, you may need to file a homeowners insurance claim.
Shop for discounts
If you’re a good driver, you should be able to find better insurance rates. Get price quotes from at least three insurance companies, and ask if they have discounts for electric cars. Some do, based on the belief that electric car drivers are more responsible and careful drivers and that they may not be as hurried while driving so they can get better gas mileage.
If you have a lead foot with your gas car, however, and have a few speeding tickets, then switching to an electric car isn’t likely to lower your rates until those tickets fall off your driving record.