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What happens when your electric car fires?

August 16, 2023

Of course, you shouldn’t think about it if you have an electric car, but there is a chance that you might have to deal with a car fire. Whereas fossil-fueled cars often catch fire due to an overheated engine, for example, the main reason with electric cars is the battery catching fire. So it can just happen. Car fires cost insurers tens of millions of dollars annually. But what exactly about insurance if you experience such a car fire?

Car fires and car insurance

To determine if you are eligible for reimbursement from your auto insurance, you must first know exactly what policy you have. And whether there is fire without intent or fire with intent; this is a big difference! If your electric car goes up in flames due to a problem with the battery, then it is a fire without intent. But is your electric car parked somewhere and someone lights it up? If so, it is intentional, and may affect your auto insurance coverage.

If you like electric driving and you buy an electric car for that reason, you usually pay more for it in the purchase price than if you choose a car that runs on gasoline or diesel. For this reason, when insuring your car, it is better if you choose either third-party limited collision coverage or full collision (all-risk) coverage. With third-party car insurance, only the damage to the other party is compensated, so you are responsible for all damages yourself.

Fire in the battery

It is a misconception that electric cars catch fire more often than cars running on gasoline or diesel. So an electric car is not more of a fire hazard. But it is a fact that the probability of the car burning out is much higher with an electric car. This is mainly because they are much more difficult to extinguish. German research by the expert center DEKRA shows that fossil-fuel powered cars are just as likely to catch fire as an electric car. So it’s not like you’re bringing a greater danger into your home with an electric car.

There is a big difference in how the fire starts, though. Electric cars mainly catch fire when they are currently charging. In fuel cars, the fires usually start while driving. With electric cars, short circuits can occur in the charging station, or in the cable between the charging station and the car. It can also happen that the battery is no longer fully functional, causing a fire. So the possibility of fire in a battery cell is definitely present. After extinguishing, the other cells can also overheat, so there is still a chance of another fire even after 24 hours. That makes electric cars harder to extinguish.

Fire without intent

When comparing car insurance, it is important to look closely at exactly what is covered. So if you have an electric car, it’s best to take out insurance based on limited-casualty coverage or full-casualty (all-risk) coverage. If the battery of your electric car then short circuits and catches fire, the damage to your car will be compensated.

Such a fire involves a fire without intent. Therefore, this also does not affect your bonus-malus ladder and your insurance premium will not go up. Battery fire is similar to fire caused by an overheated engine. The payout does vary by insurer. So be careful when buying insurance for your electric car whether the insurer will pay out the new value or daily value.

New value or current value?

In general, when you buy a new electric car, you can assume that up to three years after the purchase of the car, the insurer will pay out the new-value of the car in the event of a fire. Another option is purchase value. But after these three years, almost all insurers switch to the daily value. How high the daily value is depends on price lists. Usually, insurers use the ANWB’s price list.

What if the electric car caught fire?

Of course, the car may also burst into flames while parked due to being ignited. Fire damage caused by vandals usually involves the hull coverage. This means that with only third-party insurance, you won’t be reimbursed for anything. The damage from an ignited fire does not affect your no-claim discount or claim-free years. So check your car insurance policy before claiming fire damage to your electric car.