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How much does auto insurance cost for electric vehicles?

March 31, 2022
5 mins
A man reaches for the volume dial while driving his car

This article has been updated from a previous version.

Rising gas prices are pushing more Canadians to consider electric vehicles (EVs).

Still, many worry about a lack of public charging stations, electrical bills at home, finding a qualified mechanic, and vehicle reliability and durability.

Then there’s the price. Electric or hybrid vehicles can sell for anywhere between $32,000 to $160,000, depending on which make and model you choose. However, the Government of Canada offers rebates of up to $5,000 under the iZEV program for those who purchase select zero-emission vehicles.

And thanks to an $8 million federal investment in Ivy, a network of 160 charging stations at 73 locations in Ontario, and Petro Canada’s 2019 Electric Highway rollout across Canada, it’s easier than ever to plug-in and recharge an EV when on the road.

There is also a growing body of research demonstrating that operating costs for EVs on an ongoing basis are substantially lower than for petrol-powered vehicles. According to BC Hydro, a Nissan Leaf costs about $400 a year to drive 20,000 kilometres, while an equivalent gas-powered vehicle would cost $1,848.

Maintenance costs can be lower, too. A battery replacement may be expensive, but warranties tend to last for at least eight years. Because of regenerative braking — where the motor slows to reclaim energy — brakes usually last for up to 300,000 kilometres. However, EV brake pads can sometimes last even longer.

Comparing car insurance premiums: EVs versus gas vehicles

Auto insurance is also an ongoing component of the cost-to-drive an EV. But are insurance providers helping make EVs more attractive for Canadian buyers? Some companies are indeed offering green incentives for insurance buyers, including Desjardins and TD Insurance.

We’ll use the Nissan Leaf, which has been named the cheapest to operate over five years every year since 2018, as our standard for EVs in this insurance showdown. Representing the fuel oil team, we’ll use the reliable, best-selling Honda Civic, and the Chevrolet Cruise.

Using the RATESDOTCA auto quoter, and an identical profile for drivers and coverage (30-year-old female, 10 years of driving experience on a full licence [G in Ontario, 5 in Alberta], and a clean driving record), we ran a comparison of rates for each vehicle. We even matched neighbourhood profiles in Toronto and Calgary through Environics Analytics’ PRIZM mobile app.

While we found the Nissan Leaf won both rounds, the annual auto insurance costs were surprisingly tight:

Toronto

  • Nissan Leaf: $2,561
  • Chevrolet Cruze: $2,598
  • Honda Civic: $2,772

Calgary

  • Nissan Leaf: $2,022
  • Chevrolet Cruze: $2,088
  • Honda Civic: $2,370

What else affects the cost of auto insurance for an EV?

The Canadian Loss Experience Automobile Rating (CLEAR) system takes into account the safety and loss prevention features of a vehicle — premium tires, side airbags, and theft prevention features, for example — to help insurance providers set premiums for each vehicle model. And because EVs can have expensive, tech savvy features, you may expect higher premiums.

However, any insurance expenses that reflect the EV’s cost to repair can be offset by the green discounts many insurance companies offer. If every penny counts — and you’re looking for considerably lower maintenance costs — an EV may be worth considering.

Whether you choose to drive an EV or a gas-powered vehicle, comparing auto insurance rates across Canada is a sure way to know you’re paying the lowest premium possible.

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Dave Webb

Dave Webb is a writer and editor of 30 years’ experience. He has written about municipal politics, conservation issues, information technology, medical technology, music, and the manmade diamond industry along with insurance. And some sports. He is also an avid semi-professional roots musician. He lives in Toronto.

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