Exploring the risk of electric vehicles
The benefits of electric cars may be widely known, but the risks are often not talked about. There have been a few areas worth exploring when it comes installing charging equipment, how homeowners policies respond to charging stations and more importantly how drivers are treated following an accident.
With the increase of electric vehicles on the road over the past few years, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has begun to train firefighters across the U.S. on how to approach and handle these unique cars when they are involved in accidents. Electric vehicles are tricky because it is difficult for emergency responders to hear whether the engine is on or off. Attempting to free a person who is trapped within a running electric vehicle could potentially cause electrocution.
It’s also crucial for first responders to fully understand the distinct anatomy of these vehicles. Should they have to cut into the vehicle to pull individuals out, a wrong incision could lead to electrocution. In addition to the danger of possible electrocution, firefighters are greatly restricted in their ability to extinguish an electric vehicle that has caught fire. If an electric vehicle is burning and there is no possibility of the fire spreading to other properties or causing bodily injury or death, the firefighters are likely to contain the fire and let it burn out.
The NFPA is also taking steps to ensure that the charging equipment’s installation is being done properly. The organization works with thousands of volunteers to create and modify safety standards to ensure electric vehicles and their charging stations are properly used. These standards are updated on a three-year cycle to stay current with new technologies.
Electric car owners should be mindful that the installation of vehicle charging station may affect their homeowners insurance. According to the American Association of Insurance Services, as of January 1, 2014, laws in Oregon and California require some condo owners and homeowners to possess liability coverage that protects the vehicle’s charging equipment. Oregon’s law states that a resident who owns a charging station within a community managed by a homeowners association is required to maintain a homeowner’s policy with a $1 million limit minimum, which includes coverage for the charging station exposures. That is unless the equipment is certified as abiding by state safety standards. The insured must also name the association as an additional insured with a right to notice of cancellation of the policy.
If your company has electric vehicles in their fleet or charging stations at your facilities, speak to your insurance advisors about the risks and determine if there should be additional safety training. You should also update your corporate vehicle/driver safety procedures.
About the Author
Charlie is a Client Executive in the Renewable Energy Clean Technology Practice at WGA working with independent power developers, owner operators and manufacturers in the business of power generation.