The quick guide to integrating electric vehicles in your fleet

25/03/2022

Reduce risk, protect your drivers and lower your running costs

If your carbon targets didn’t already have you thinking about phasing electric vehicles into your fleet, there’s a good chance the rapid rise in fuel costs has seen you reaching for the calculator.

Electric vehicles (or EVs) cost on average, around 3x less per mile to run than petrol or diesel. If you’re managing even a small fleet, it’s a potentially significant saving – despite electricity bills continuing to climb.

But running costs aren’t the only consideration if you’re thinking of making the switch. It’s also important to understand the implications for your insurance cover – because these are quite different for EVs.

A different approach for different risks

2020 was a tipping point for electric vehicle insurance. Previously much more expensive to insure, as the popularity of EVs increased, premiums lowered, and cover is now consistently cheaper than for petrol and diesel equivalents.

But it’s important to understand the differences between EVs and conventional vehicles when it comes to risk and vehicle management – both of which can impact on your insurance and general running costs. 

Charging

Unless you implement a policy that requires vehicles to be charged at your premises, many EVs will be charged at your drivers’ homes.

Considerations about cost reimbursement aside, if this is the case you may have little control over the charging environment.

The risk of fire in particular needs to be mitigated, meaning charging points will need to be installed and checked by an accredited engineer (you can get hold of a copy of the IET Code of Practice for EV Charging Equipment Installation here), while the charger location should be away from any enclosed space, such as a garage.

Of course, theft is as much of an issue for EVs as other vehicles, but in a crime peculiar to electric cars, the stealing of charging cables is on the rise (typically for the copper they contain.)

If it isn’t possible for a driver to remain with their vehicle while charging, experts suggest investing in a heavy-duty plastic sleeved chain to pass around the cable and through the wheel spokes before padlocking.

With many EV users keeping their charging cables in the car, it also goes without saying that your drivers should ensure their vehicle is locked and they keep the keys safe to avoid theft or cloning.

Maintenance and repair

Unlike petrol or diesel cars, which can have up to 2,000 moving parts, electric vehicles only have around 20, meaning they typically require less maintenance (here’s a good guide from The AA.)

However, because electric vehicles operate in an entirely different way, any maintenance and repair should be handled by EV experts.

A service department at the vehicle manufacturer is usually best placed to provide this specialist support.

Vehicle understanding and driver behaviour

According to Shell, the difference in range between the best and worst drivers in an electric fleet can be upwards of 34% – a difference that could have a significant impact on your company costs.

In fact your drivers’ understanding of how electric vehicles operate and how to drive them is critical to keeping your fleet costs under control and keeping your cars in good working order.

Here are just a few elements to be aware of:

  1. Unlike a conventional car, a ‘fill up’ can actually damage an electric vehicle battery and depreciate a car’s value. The ideal level of charge for an EV battery is around 80%.
  2. If your drivers have a minor accident the consequences could be more serious than in a petrol or diesel vehicle. Small dents, which might typically be ignored, could affect the battery and create a fire risk.
  3. EVs are naturally quieter, which means that pedestrians, cyclists and other road users may be less aware of their presence. Drivers should be particularly careful in built-up areas.
  4. Without a traditional gearbox, acceleration in an electric car can be instantaneous – and therefore carry more risk for the untrained.
  5. Equally, regenerative braking means the vehicle slows when pressure is removed from the accelerator – there’s no coasting – so stopping distances can be affected.

Managing your EV risks

It’s possible to protect your drivers, reduce your insurance risk and lower your costs when switching to EVs by taking three key steps:

  1. Training your drivers effectively;
  2. Installing technology to encourage better driver behaviour;
  3. Working with an insurance broker that has access to enhanced insurance and risk management resources for EV fleets.

Training your drivers

The AA and other driving organisations offer a range of familiarisation and driving technique training courses for EV drivers – including fleets.

Designed to help drivers understand the main differences when driving electric vehicles and learn how to get the best out of their EV in terms of range and performance, they’re a useful starting point to ensure driver safety and vehicle efficiency. 

Encouraging better driving behaviour through technology

Alongside training, in-cab coaching and rewards can incentivise better driving – and better range – on the move.

Lightfoot combines simple in-cab technology – which provides real-time performance indicators and audio feedback – with weekly prizes for ‘elite’ drivers. The result is a self-motivated focus on improvement, which in turn reduces accidents and encourages uniform driver behaviour across a fleet.

At-home charging expenses are monitored within an app, which also shows drivers their level of charge and notifies them to charge up if their battery level is below the company’s requirement. 

With integrated telematics, it also provides your fleet managers with aggregated and individual reports on charging and battery status, driver journeys and location, vehicle health and expense reports.

Working with the right insurance provider

Insurance for electric vehicles is not the same as for petrol and diesel vehicles – and though many insurers have brought EVs into their remit, only a few really understand the risks inherent to EVs and can help reduce these risks and advise on managing costs.

As an example, Allianz provides fleet cover for electric vehicles that encompasses many of the benefits we’ve touched on here, to help customers as they make the move to EVs:

  • Third party liability during charging
  • Damage cover for cables, connectors and wall boxes located at your company premises or your drivers’ homes
  • Partnerships with DriveTech driver training from The AA and Lightfoot

Case study: a little ‘reverse’ psychology to lower premiums

For Vista Insurance, keeping insurance premiums low for customers isn’t simply a case of sourcing the best renewal quote – we work with them to understand and improve their claims profile.

One customer working in rubbish collection was experiencing a lot of small accident claims from its truck fleet and couldn’t understand why. On reviewing telematics reports from the times of the accidents, Vista identified the problem – its drivers kept reversing into things.

Working with the customer, we introduced training for the drivers, to use their reversing cameras and take more care when backing up their trucks. Routes were replanned to avoid accident blackspots and more regular telematics reviews were implemented to keep better track of driver behaviour.

The result: fewer accident claims, a lower renewal cost, and better driving – in every direction.

Are you integrating electric vehicles into your fleet?

Understanding the specific differences relating to electric vehicle care and management, as well as putting effective measures in place to mitigate risk from the outset can reduce your running costs, lower your insurance risk and secure higher residual values for your fleet vehicles.

Contact us for help with your fleet insurance needs. 

 


 

 

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