Insurance and security for your Tesla

Insuring Electric cars can be straightforward but there are some notable differences you need to be aware of. We run through the main ones and help explain why its relevant and what you can do about it and how to increase your security.

Security

Passive entry or comfort access

This is a feature whereby you only need to walk up to your car and it detects your presence, unlocks and presents the door handles (MS) or even opens the door (MX). The feature is not unique to Tesla, but unfortunately is exploited by car thieves. If your car is parked and your keys are within a reasonable distance of a public area, a thief can place a receiver close to the keys and relay the signal to someone standing close to your car electronically. This fools the car into thinking the key is nearby, unlocks the car allowing the thief to get in and drive away. You still have the key, but the thief is long gone. This is a so called 'relay attack'. This threat is very common from outside people's houses where the keys are just the other side of the front door and can this mode of theft can be done easily overnight. An alternative weakness is on the Model 3 where Bluetooth is used to unlock the car. Bluetooth can have a range that exceeds what you may expect resulting in the key in the house leaving the car vulnerable even without a relay attack.

Tesla have made changes to reduce the issue however it is worth being both aware of the potential risk and taking some steps to help prevent this, one or more of the below are typical:

The choice is yours and of course you can do none of them, but the cars are expensive and desirable and have been targeted for theft, especially around London.

Dash Cam

Dash Cams or Cameras are a personal thing and can incriminate you if you drive badly as well as protect you if you're an innocent victim. Many are available but be careful to select an installer who is familiar with Tesla (or any electric car) as the ignition and general wiring loom tends not to work quite the same way as traditional cars.

Cars with Autopilot HW2.5 (generally speaking cars made from mid 2018 onwards) also allow for the Tesla cameras to be used as a dash cam without any external equipment. Tesla have now also bought our Sentry mode which will record the surrounding area of the car when parked using the cameras, however earlier cars don't have this facility.

Sentry mode

For later cars Tesla have enabled Sentry mode which allows the cars numerous cameras to record anybody approaching the car. While this seems great and many people use it, it has two downsides. The first is that it consumes a lot of energy and therefore increases vampire drain, although this can be controlled to, say, not operate at home or work. The second issue is the video is stored within the car on a memory storage device plugged into the USB slot. It won't be long before car thieves are aware of how this works and will ensure they steal the storage device if they are casually breaking in for other purposes.

Trackers

Some insurance companies have a policy of demanding a tracker if the car is above a certain price or performance ability. For many years the Tesla community advice was that the car could be tracked by Tesla and no extra tracker was required, and if your insurance company mandated it, go to a different insurance company. Tesla have threatened to invalidate warranty if a tracker causes problems with the car. However it's not as simple as that.

That position has changed slight as the tracker is easily defeated by either removing the SIM or a blocking device. The tracker is also not industry approved (e.g. Thatcham in the UK) and highly unlikely to be as it requires integration with call centres and the Police, however a number of insurance companies do now accept them. Always check with the insurance company on their policy and do not assume the Tesla system is sufficient.

For peace of mind even of the Tesla system is accepted, we suggest getting your own tracking device. The one we recommend requires charging every 3-4 weeks, costs only pence per month to run, and gives you a phone app to see where your car is and all the journeys it has taken. We recommend a GPS magnetic tracker and a GIFGAF PAYG Sim. See our accessories page for alternative for the US market.

GPS magnetic tracker

Charging Cable theft

This is a relatively rare crime, but there have been spates of cable theft from cars plugged in and charging. The cable is meant to be locked when charging and indeed there is a locking pin, but it's been found that these can be forced and the cables taken. The cables sell for over £100 on the used market. There's no easy advice, some people look to get a padlock and lock the cable to the wheel of the car, others have suggested driving over the cable and park on it, but in all honesty, we say don't worry. It's pretty rare, it's not impossible, but you're more likely going to chip and alloy or damage a tyre and either of those will cost more than a stolen cable to put right.

Insurance

Accident damage lead times

One slightly worry aspect of Tesla's, and to a lesser extent, all electric cars is the time it takes to get cars repaired. For minor bumps and scrapes where repair rather than replace is an option, it should be no longer than any other type of car. Where replacement panels or more extensive repairs including components such as radiators (yes, electric cars have radiators) or suspension, the repairs can take much longer. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, the number of accident repair garages, and capacity is relatively small, and so it's possible there are delays simply finding suitable garages to do the work or even be prepared to quote. The second and more significant reason is parts availability. The relatively low number of cars and limited production means replacement parts can take some time to be sourced. Tesla are particularly bad on certain parts and delays of several months have been frequently reported.

If your car is off the road, be wary of accident management companies offering to loan you a car while yours is being repaired. We've heard of owners running up bills of £10k and more on high car charges and hoping to claim off the other driver. The accident management companies have their own fleet of cars, often Tesla's, and they loan these out on a "like for like" basis at pretty hefty rates. Just check carefully, but if you're the innocent party then the other sides insurance company will typically go out of their way to look after you, and if not, it's because there is doubt, and a 50/50 or knock for knock claim can leave you with a pretty steep bill

Software updates and your insurance.

We are starting to see insurance companies include in their terms and conditions the need to notify them following software updates. Given Tesla make frequent updates to the cars and have been known to unlock extra performance or change the functionality of autopilot, they may be reserving the right to change the premium should Tesla make considerable alterations. Irrespective, it is worth checking for any such conditions and following them to avoid having your insurance invalidated.

Insurance Companies

There are a number of insurance companies worth looking at, although as everyone's situation is different. In the UK we recommend trying more than one. LV are often quoted as having good prices and in the past NFU and Direct Line have.

Tesla have now entered the insurance market but it is still too soon to tell if their prices are competitive. Like all insurance companies there will specific drivers that their policy is best suited for so we recommend getting prices from several, including Tesla.

When getting quotes, here are a few tips to get the best price:

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