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04 Sep 2017
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

A guide to green car insurance

As people are becoming more eco-conscious, what are the options for green drivers?

eco car

It’s easy to forget how much our cars contribute to the rising problem of pollution.

The pressure’s now on to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 34% by 2020. So having an environmentally-friendly option for our cars seems more important than ever.

Green initiatives are slowly but surely being rolled out, though. France has plans for a green future by banning all diesel cars by 2040, and all Volvo’s cars will be electric or hybrid by 2019.

These are some promising steps towards a more ecologically-sound future, but how can we be greener drivers ourselves?

Green car insurance

Green car insurance providers contribute something to the environment to offset the amount of carbon dioxide produced by your car.

The engine size, annual mileage and type of fuel used are taken into account. An assessment can then be made of the amount of CO2 your car will emit. The company can then buy carbon credits to put towards a carbon-offsetting project.

This could involve planting trees to make up for the loss of the rainforest, or a recycling initiative. The Green Insurance Company, for example, was responsible for the planting of 2 million trees in the UK, and donated over £30,000 to eco schools.

A handful of providers offer this kind of insurance. So if this is something you’re interested in, you can get in touch with them directly to discuss your options. 

eco car charging

Are green cars worth the investment? 

What if you want to go the whole hog and buy a vehicle that will dramatically reduce your emissions? Getting an electric or alternatively-fuelled car is an excellent way of doing this. There are a few different types:

Hybrid cars use more than one means of propulsion – usually a combination of a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor.

Electric cars run on electricity only. The electric motor gets its power from batteries that are charged using a power outlet.  

The only difference between a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and a normal hybrid is the battery. Like an electric car, the batteries need to be charged from an external power source. This combination means that the car has a greater range than a regular hybrid.

Hydrogen-fuelled cars contain a fuel cell with a mix of hydrogen and oxygen inside – the combination of these produce electric power. Hydrogen cars aren’t as common as other low-emission vehicles. In addition, there are only a handful of hydrogen charging stations in the UK. 

Is it expensive to insure my green car?

These cars aren’t as common as petrol or diesel models, so not all insurers offer policies for them. However, green cars are steadily becoming more popular, and soon it could become much easier to find an electric car insurance policy. There are a few factors that could affect your premium

  • If a specialist part is damaged, a replacement could be more expensive or difficult to source.

  • Green cars generally have a smaller engine, which is less of a risk in an accident.

  • Using the power lead in a public place could be a tripping hazard. Check whether your insurance policy covers this.

eco car charging

Are there any other benefits?

You’ll find that you could save more money on fuel. For example, according to the Vehicle Certification Agency, an electric Volkswagen e-up costs £349 per 12,000 miles. If you compare this to a Peugeot 208 – which costs £1,252 – it’s quite a saving.

Cars are taxed because of the amount of CO2 they emit. As ultra-low emission vehicles emit less than 75g of CO2 per kilometre travelled, they’re tax-free. Also, if you live in London, you won’t have to pay the congestion charge. 

Top tips to be a greener driver 

There are steps you can take to become a greener driver, no matter what car you own:

  • Request paperless insurance documents.

  • Be more fuel efficient. As well as being a green option, starting a car pool with work colleagues or friends could cut your petrol costs in half.

  • Reduce idle time. If your friend’s running late and you’re waiting in the car, why not switch the engine off and reduce emissions.

  • Check your tyres. If they’re underinflated, too much of the tyre’s surface area touches the ground. This results in increased friction and fuel consumption.

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