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How converting a gas vehicle to electric can impact your insurance

May 16, 2022
5 mins
EV charger in purple car

As nationwide fuel costs reach soaring heights, many Canadians are turning their thoughts toward owning an electric vehicle (EV). However, with the higher-than-anticipated demand for EVs, they can be tough to find, and the wait for one can last up to a year.

If you’re serious about owning an EV, it may be worth it to consider converting your gasoline-powered vehicle into an EV. Just ask Dean Kneider, president and CEO of Riise EV, a Vancouver-based company specializing in converting gasoline-powered vehicles into EVs.

He's already converted a 1976 Porsche 912 into an EV, which has become his daily drive. However, EV conversion is still a relatively new concept, and inspires a few questions regarding its practicality, affordability, and impact on your car insurance rate.

How much does an EV conversion cost?

Currently, EV conversions cast a wide net in terms of price range. Kneider told Global News, for instance, that converting classic cars and sports cars can run anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000. Depending on the type of vehicle, including parts, labour, engine removal, battery, motor, controller, and adaptor plate additions, the cost of conversion can vary greatly. Much of the price can depend on how many hours go in to converting your model of choice and the quality of parts you’ve chosen to incorporate. You also have to factor in the cost of the donor vehicle that’s providing you with the new parts. And if you go through a specialty shop for the conversion, your total can add up to much more.

Converting a gas-powered vehicle into an EV is not an easy feat, either. There are a lot of factors that can extend the process and add to your frustration and the cost. One of the first steps you’ll need to do is calculate the cost of doing an EV conversion. Begin with a wish list for your EV conversion by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How much range do you require for your EV?
  • How much power do you want the EV to have? Is it the same amount as a gas-powered vehicle?
  • What kind of shape is the vehicle you want to convert to an EV in?
  • Where do you want to put each of the electric components? Will there be enough space inside the existing vehicle, or will you need to create more space?
  • How do you want to use the vehicle?

Are EV conversions worth it?

Because EV conversions have only been around for a few years and have largely been done with classic and older vehicles, it’s important to do your due diligence when deciding if the vehicle you’ve chosen to convert will fit your expectations and budget. For example, starting off with an old “beater” could be more cost effective than converting a fully operational gas-powered vehicle. The beater doesn’t even have to be running since you’ll be taking the engine out of it and replacing it with an electric motor.

This process may become more popular in the future, especially if fuel prices remain high. However, if Kneider has his way, this may not be an option for only passenger vehicles. He’s also working on converting gas-powered commercial vehicles and school buses into EVs. It could save companies a lot of money in operating costs over the long term and would cut the cost of purchasing new EVs. “Buses are a massive opportunity for us,” he said in a recent Global News story.

Will an EV conversion affect your car insurance?

If you’re wondering how converting your vehicle to electric might affect your car insurance rate, you’re not alone.

According to Anne Marie Thomas, director, consumer, and industry relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada, “If a consumer converted a vehicle from gasoline to electric, it would be considered a vehicle modification.”

This may introduce some extra steps and costs for auto policyholders.

“In order to obtain insurance, they may have to provide a vehicle safety certificate,” says Thomas. Whether your premium will increase as a result of the conversion depends on the provider.

“Each insurance company has their own rules and not all insurance companies may insure a modified vehicle. Before doing the conversion or modification, the person should have a discussion with their insurance representative to make sure that they will be able to get insurance.”

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Scott Marshall

Scott Marshall has spent over 30 years promoting road safety across Canada. He has seen many things from inside the vehicle while training new drivers, retraining licensed drivers, and training new driving instructors. Scott began writing road safety articles in 2005 for a community newspaper and has moved on to more publications from there.

In 2005, Scott was an on-air judge on the Discovery Network's Canada's Worst Driver program for its first three seasons. That gave Scott insight with regards to what makes bad drivers so bad. He was also the host of The National Driving Test internet webisodes.

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