Tips to know before buying an electric vehicle

(BPT) – Electric vehicles (EVs) are increasing in popularity as drivers consider the operating cost of owning an automobile as well as the environmental impact of their commutes. The number of electric vehicle models available has nearly doubled in the last few years and the market is getting charged up. The rising demand for electric vehicles has led to a larger inventory of new and used plug-ins in the auto market.

‘EVs have high safety ratings and offer a quieter ride,’ said Kevin Quinn, vice president of auto claims at Mercury Insurance. ‘Add in low maintenance costs and the opportunity to reduce a vehicle owner’s carbon footprint, and it becomes very appealing to consumers who are looking to buy a new car.’

With more than 2 million electric cars on the road in the U.S., EV owners know that home charging is one of the most important aspects to owning an electric vehicle. Other than driving, cold weather zaps the batteries of energy quickly. Using the air conditioning or heater, as well as uphill drives, also reduce range. Knowing that there might be more frequent charges under these demands makes home charging more appealing.

According to the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Home Charging Study, 84% of EV owners regularly charge their vehicle at home. It costs about half as much to charge an EV at home as it does to charge at a public station. Home chargers also offer the convenience of being programmed so they draw power during off-peak hours, saving EV owners money.

Most EVs come with a Level 1 charger allowing drivers to charge at their residence from a standard 120-volt household outlet. This method can take several hours, typically overnight, to get back most of the car’s range. For this reason, many EV owners purchase Level 2 charging stations to be installed in their home. Level 2 charging allows for a quicker charge using a 240-volt outlet.

EV owners looking to install a 240-volt power outlet or hardwired charging station to their home should speak with a trusted electrician who is trained, licensed and insured to install NEMA 14-50 outlets. These outlets are similar to what an electric dryer or oven is plugged into. Once installed, the charger would be considered part of the home and will need to be covered by supplemental insurance in the event of any type of loss.

‘A standard homeowners’ policy excludes coverage related to motor vehicles and their equipment, accessories and parts,’ said Bonnie Lee, vice president of property claims. ‘It’s important that EV owners who install a Level 2 charger protect their homes as well as their vehicles. We had a policyholder put 300 battery packs together to charge his car and it didn’t end well. The battery packs overheated and burned down the garage. Fortunately, his homeowners’ insurance claim was covered, but it’s best to have an electrician handle any EV charging station installations.’

EV owners can also charge their vehicles with portable chargers, but how owners obtained those chargers could make a difference on which type of insurance would be needed. If the portable charger came from the dealership with the vehicle, it would be covered by their auto collision or comprehensive insurance. However, if EV owners purchase a portable charger after buying their vehicle, they may need special equipment coverage.

‘Those using portable chargers to charge their vehicles should consider carrying comprehensive auto insurance coverage,’ said Quinn. ‘A standard homeowners’ insurance policy excludes coverage related to motor vehicles, which means losses to vehicle equipment, accessories and parts are not covered.’

While reports of fires happening while EVs are parked and charging are rare, owners should always be mindful when charging their vehicles. ‘Electric vehicles are still relatively new to the marketplace so automakers are still perfecting them,’ said Lee. ‘EV owners need to do their due diligence and make sure they’re properly educated about their manufacturer’s recommendations for proper charging.’

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