Canadians need more confidence in electric vehicles says Aviva leader

Insurer is looking to expand charger access for people across the country

Canadians need more confidence in electric vehicles says Aviva leader

Motor & Fleet

By David Saric

More needs to be done to impart confidence in electric vehicles for Canadians across the country, especially in more rural areas, according to Aviva’s chief distribution officer, Ben Isotta-Riches (pictured).

“There has not been much investment in this type of infrastructure,” he said.

“Range anxiety,” a relatively new term, was coined because of the fear Canadians have when they are travelling in areas without access to public charging ports.

This makes vehicle owners more hesitant to purchase electric vehicles if they reside outside of metropolitan areas, even as the federal government pushes to make sales fleets 100% electric in the near future.

To help combat this dearth of public chargers, Aviva created the Charged for Change initiative, which aims to make this technology available to Canadian citizens, in partnership with Earth Day Canada.

In an interview with Insurance Business, Isotta-Riches spoke about what this alliance means for electric car accessibility, what parties should be involved in this transition and how insurance companies can further incentivize these types of vehicles.

Expanding the program nationally

In its inaugural year, Aviva awarded funding for the installation of Level 2 electric vehicle charging ports to seven Ontario communities: The Town of Pelham, Township of Selwyn, The County of Prince Edward, Town of Thessalon, Municipality of East Ferris, Township of Manitouwadge, and Township of Essa.

“It has been brilliant to see the chargers installed,” Isotta-Riches said.

“So far, 12 charging heads are ready for use in three municipalities and the other remaining four are aiming to get their chargers installed and ready for use by early 2024.”

Aviva’s Charged for Change initiative is setting its sights on a national expansion, traversing provincial boundaries to satisfy the needs of Canadians.

“We felt strongly that this was an area where we could help tackle this pain point and move the needle toward EV adoption among Canadians,” Isotta-Riches said.

Applications are open until February 22, 2024, with the carrier hoping to announce which communities have been chosen to receive a maximum funding of $125,000.

Tapping into greater resources

To ramp up adoption and integration of electric vehicles and build the required infrastructure is going to need a collaborative effort from various resources that hold financial and legislative power.

“We know that the climate is changing rapidly,” Isotta-Riches said. “This crisis demands urgent action from us all – governments, corporate Canada and Canadians.”

However, Isotta-Riches is hoping that other corporations recognize how important combatting climate change is and make environmentally conscious lifestyle changes and technologies more accessible for Canadians.

“We hope that Charged for Change can serve as a model for other private companies looking to pave the path towards a low carbon economy,” he said.

Other ways carriers can help this important switch

Aviva Canada’s global corporate & specialty MD, Urs Uhlmann, previously told Insurance Business that insurers are an integral part of Canadian businesses being able to switch to greener solutions more easily.

“If we don’t provide insurance solutions for new technologies in this space then in my opinion, we’re not taking our share,” he said.

“I do think that if we don’t get going on this … as an as an industry, as an economy, we’re going to be in trouble.”

While there is much to be said about insuring technological innovations and greener alternatives at a business level, carriers like Aviva can propose other benefits to help initiate change at a civic level.

“EVs continue to sit at a higher price point than some of their gas-dependent competition,” Isotta-Riches said.

The company has tried to ease some of these anxieties by offering discounts when you insure your electric car with Aviva. Elsewhere, it offers a $2,000 subsidy to customers who have had a total loss and upgrade their gas-powered vehicle to an EV.

“Sometimes it is small savings like this that can make a meaningful difference to a customer who might be on the fence,” Isotta-Riches said. “Ultimately, the hope is that as technology improves and EVs become more common that we will also see the price point drop.”

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