Electric car insurance Singapore: 5 things Tesla & other EV owners need to know

Tesla Model X electric cars recharge their batteries in Berlin, Germany, on Nov 13, 2019.
PHOTO: Reuters

Driving a car in Singapore can be quite a chore because of the island’s many traffic lights 一 for a country this small, there are over 2000 traffic lights scattered throughout. This sort of start-stop driving is perfectly suited for electric cars; whereas cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) would keep burning fuel whilst idling at a red light, electric cars simply turn off.

Naturally, Singapore is on track to double the number of electric car charging stations by 2030, whilst simultaneously making fossil fuels the way of the dinosaurs.

If you own or plan to buy an electric car, find out what you need to know about electric car insurance in Singapore.

1. There are limited electric car insurance options

Insurance providers seem to hold on to the idea that cars still run on liquefied dinosaurs. As of August 2021, only a handful of insurance providers cover electric cars. The lack of options means it’s harder for the consumer to comparison-shop for car insurance.

Only 3 providers insure electric cars directly – AXA, Liberty Insurance and NTUC Income – and with wildly different price structures.

It’s even more frustrating to realise that a lot of factors go into the price of the car insurance that you pay. The prices below reflect my profile: a 26-year-old male who is single and has less than two years of driving experience, has made no claims, and has a no-claim discount of 0 per cent.

  • AXA offers a relatively straightforward annual price structure, similar to ICE cars. Interestingly, the cost to cover a Hyundai Ioniq Electric for a year is the same as its ICE counterpart, the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, at $6,065.62.
  • NTUC Income offers two types of price structure – per kilometre (km) or annually. It’s definitely going to be cheaper to insure your electric car per km if you don’t do lots of miles. Assuming the average Singaporean does about 20,000km of driving a year, my quote came to about $3,000 with the per km structure, as opposed to $3,830.15 with the annual pricing for the same car.
  • Liberty Insurance offers quotations via direct enquiries only, and they have the distinction by being the preferred insurer for Teslas in Singapore.

There are also other insurance providers that cover electric cars, but these are usually by individual car dealers or authorised brokers. One of our readers, Darcy Li, has gotten his new Tesla Model 3 insurance from Allianz via an authorised broker: Synergy Financial Advisers

2. The premium depends on your car’s make & model

As if your personal details don’t affect the price of your car insurance enough, the model and make affects that as well. In general, if your car is of a more premium make, your insurance premium will also cost more.

Compare the estimated insurance premium between these three electric cars:

Car model Price of base model Insurance premium for 1 year (NTUC Income, 20,000km/year)
Nissan Leaf  $148,800 $2,528.20
Kia Niro EV $158,999 $2,860.40
Tesla Model 3 $229,000 $6,730.00

So if you’re looking to buy a Tesla Model 3, be prepared to cough up a lot more to get your car insured.

3. There is usage-based insurance (UBI), but…

Given that electric cars aren’t as widely used in Singapore as ICE cars, we love the idea of usage-based insurance, or UBI.

The basic idea of UBI is to pay less because you drive less. It’s especially relevant if you own an electric car for the odd grocery run or fun spin around the island, but choose another method for your regular commute if you decide to go with UBI

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Currently, only NTUC Income offers UBI in Singapore. This is only reserved for electric cars, and they offer comprehensive, third party with fire and theft, or third party coverage only. 

Distance tracking is measured by a device that’s installed on your electric car’s OBD port, which links directly to your car’s odometer. This ensures accurate tracking without resorting to measures like cell phone apps or GPS.

Frustratingly, the rates per km is decided on one’s personal details and car model. The standard rules apply – the more expensive your car is and the more inexperienced at driving and/or younger you are, the higher rate per km you pay.

4. Some things are not covered by insurance

Interestingly, digging through the policy wording for NTUC Income reveals that its UBI coverage does not include battery failures or defects by default – you’ll have to add on the maintenance package which includes a comprehensive list of the car parts that could fail for whatever reason.

It’s a similar story with AXA, where its extent of coverage only includes accidents, acts of god or uncontrollable events. 

That leaves us wondering whether it would actually cover issues such as electric car malfunction — which might be something you might need to take up with the car manufacturer and pay out of your own pocket.

Out of all the electric car insurers, Liberty Insurance  seems to be the most comprehensive, but the price remains to be seen.

5. Tesla-specific things that you need to be aware of

Looking to buy a Tesla? Take note that some of its coolest features may not be covered.

For example, Teslas have a very cool feature where its windshield extends all the way into its roofline. But most insurers state that the extent of their windshield coverage ends where the car’s roofline begins, making it quite difficult to find insurance that covers its entirety. Liberty Insurance covers this, but not for NTUC Income and AXA.

You might have better luck getting end-to-end coverage for your new Tesla via an authorised broker, like our reader, Darcy, has. Through Synergy Financial Advisers, Darcy managed to procure electric car insurance via Allianz that covers Tesla-specific features such as autopilot and that swooping glass roof.

As a new Tesla owner, he also cautions against charging accidents, an event that most insurers will not cover. Certain experimental features that are in beta which are downloaded to your Tesla over-the-air are likely not to be covered by insurers as well.

Electric car insurance might frazzle your brain but it doesn’t have to be that difficult

Honestly, with electric cars getting sanctioned by the government, we thought that electric car insurance would be as easy as turning on the lights. But insurance providers are notoriously slow to catch up with new changes, so there aren’t that many options yet.

ALSO READ: No Claims Discount (NCD) Protector: Should you buy yourself this car insurance rider?

That said, the space for electric car insurance will only grow bigger in the years to come, which is why we have a tool for you to input your details to find the best price for you.

If you’re still in the research stage, have a look at our many articles on how to navigate the confusing world of car insurance and why it’s that way. You’ll be glad to understand why.

This article was first published in MoneySmart.