Head of electric vehicle communications believes insurers can help customers make ‘an informed choice’ about EV ownership

Insurers must do more if they are to support the UK motor sector in driving the country’s net zero carbon dioxide emissions ambitions, according to Gill Nowell, head of electric vehicle (EV) communications at LV= General Insurance (LV=GI).

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Nowell explained that there are currently in excess of 680,000 electric cars and small vans on the UK’s roads, with the government predicting that this figure will be between eight and 10 million by 2030.

However, if the UK is to meet its set emissions targets for 2030 – including London mayor Sadiq Khan’s ambition that London be net zero by this point – Nowell believes there needs to be nearer to 16 million EVs on the UK’s roads. This would represent 46% of all the vehicles driving in the UK.

The UK government has set big targets for its net zero transition – according to its Net zero strategy: Build back greener report, published in October 2021, the government intends for the UK to be completely net zero by 2050.

By 2030, the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will have concluded and the country’s carbon dioxide emission levels will be reduced by 68% compared to 1990 base levels, the report stated.

To support these aims, Nowell said the insurance industry has the capability to become a catalyst for change - this starts with educating motorists on the benefits of driving electric vehicles.

Facilitating the change

LV=GI has sought to be on the front foot of accelerating EV adoption. With this in mind, it launched Electrix in July 2022, providing a one-stop-shop to support EV drivers with everything from leasing a vehicle to buying a home charger or getting EV insurance.

Electrix is delivered in partnership with vehicle leasing firm CBVC Vehicle Management and EV charging provider Indra.

Nowell said the proposition aims to help motorists overcome the perceived barriers they may have around EV ownership.

She explained: “What we wanted to create was a single hub for businesses and individuals to access all the facilities needed to become EV drivers.

“One of the biggest problems [in EV adoption] had been the lead time for vehicles. We have been able to create a system which can have a driver behind the wheel of the vehicle and on the road in 30 days.”

Nowell added that many motorists, while keen to make a move to driving an EV, have been unsure about what such a move entails.

“We, as insurers, have the ability to provide motorists with the knowledge they require to make an informed choice,” Nowell said.

Embracing EVs

Research conducted by LV=GI in April 2022 demonstrated that EVs are becoming a more regular feature of UK life, however.

Its Electric car cost index showed that when comparing insurance rates for 13 EV cars versus their internal combustion engine peers, coverage for the EVs were – on average – better value for money that the insurance offered for petrol and diesel vehicles.

Nowell added that alongside more competitive EV premiums, there has also been a great deal of work on the issues that have arisen around claims that include damage to EVs.

One of the major concerns so far has been that if an EV battery is damaged due to a collision, this will likely result in the vehicle being deemed a total loss.

Therefore, LV=GI has been working with the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, Thatcham Research, to identify possible pinch points in the claims process.

She explained: “The aim has been to look at the end to end claims process to identify how we can better manage claims.”

For Nowell, the benefits of utilising EVs “are considerable” – especially if customers are “on a flexible tariff and [can] charge the vehicles at home during [an] off-peak period”.

“It is still cheaper to power than petrol or diesel,” she noted.

“We are all aware of the need to move away from fossil fuels and the [insurance] industry is in a position where we can provide not only the products to insure the vehicles, but also be part of the wider process which enables drivers to make the switch.”