Powering Ahead – Electric Vehicles and Strata

The sale of Electric Vehicle (EV) models in Australia is growing to meet the changing demands of buyers. The year-on-year growth of EVs and Australia’s transition to sustainable energy is spurred on by rising petrol costs, the phasing out of traditional combustion engines by manufacturers, government rebates/incentives, emission targets and increased focus on EV infrastructure.

A national EV charging network is being constructed around Australia. The NSW Government is leading the charge with an EV Strategy, offering $500 million in investment to encourage EV adoption. NSW aims to have EV account for 52% of all new car sales by 2030-31 and Victoria has developed a similar plan of 50% by 2030. In Queensland, the goal is for every new car to be electric by 2036.

Local governments are looking for new strata developments to be ‘EV ready’. EV is the way of the future and strata is contemplating the implications of EV charging stations and insurance.

Considerations for EV charging stations on strata common property

EV charging stations should only be installed by appropriately qualified and experienced electrical contractors. Professional advice will:

  • determine the needs of the strata owners
  • ensure the strata’s power supply is sufficient
  • assess the power system’s flexibility.

It is highly recommended that EV charging stations be:

  • located at ground level
  • in open air or
  • in fully open-sided car parks.

However, in many cases enclosed spaces such as basements are unavoidable. Basement installations can present an increased level of risk for insurers and require extra precautions.

Another factor to consider is who pays for the electricity. A user pays basis is fair for all owners but requires dedicated metering hardware in the EV charging stations.

The implications for strata insurance policies and how to manage this

Insurers will be looking at the EV charging station installation, associated risks and risk mitigation measures in place.

The following risk mitigations are recommended for all EV charging stations to manage:

  • the risk of ignition
  • the exposure to other risks for strata.

To reduce the risk of ignition, the EV charging units must be:

  • fit for purpose and suitably sized for the electrical load
  • hard-wired with a dedicated circuit breaker and regulated residual currency devices (RCD) protection to mitigate the risk of electrocution and damage to the vehicle or building.

In addition to the above, the installation must comply with manufacturer instructions and industry standards:

  • electrical equipment and wiring used in the installation should meet relevant manufacturer, industry, Australian Standards and IEC standards, including overcharge and overcurrent protection
  • chargers and associated equipment should be installed, used and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and applicable standards, and
  • charging points should be protected from environmental hazards (including water, salt and dust) and rated appropriately.

Charging instructions and warning signs should be clearly visible to the users of the EV charging stations, including:

  • any restrictions on use based on vehicle type or other factors
  • precautions to be taken during use
  • instructions in the event of an emergency
  • a reminder for users to check their vehicle owner’s manual.

Managing the exposure to other risks includes:

  • no combustible materials/storage within 5m of the EV charger unit, or vehicles being charged
  • a dedicated charging station area away from high traffic or children
  • well-lit charging bays, signposted and/or marked prominently on the ground
  • EV chargers above floor level on a raised plinth or wall mounted on fully non-combustible materials
  • impact protection bars
  • charging cables secured to avoid trip hazards when not in use
  • limit of 4 adjacent charging bays per area.

Consultation with the fire brigade during the process or a fire safety engineer is advisable as insurers will consider:

  • charging areas readily accessible by the fire brigade
  • automatic sprinkler protection (minimum OH2 i.e. 5mm over 144m2) installed throughout the area
  • adequate smoke exhaust ventilation
  • manual fire protection equipment (hydrants, hose reels and extinguishers) providing adequate coverage
  • all protection equipment and systems being tested and serviced in accordance with regulations, applicable standards and manufacturer’s instructions.

The importance of ongoing maintenance

Like any machinery in a strata property, servicing and maintenance should be carried out by a competent specialist in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations and applicable standards.  Charger condition inspections should be conducted at weekly intervals by the building manager. A clear maintenance plan and fire safety checks should be in place.

Additional insurance cover to protect strata owners

We can help assess the need for machinery breakdown and additional liability cover, depending on the size and value of the installation.

Further questions

Whitbread insurance specialists are here to help you manage this emerging trend in strata properties. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to know more about the insurance implications of EV charging stations in strata.


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