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Electric-Car Accident? What Your Insurance Company MUST Let You Do

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Nissan Leaf Accident Repair

Nissan Leaf Accident Repair

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It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been driving, what type of car you have or how it happened: having a car accident isn’t nice. 

Normally, post-accident, your insurance company may help you find a local repairer to get your car looking good as new again. But if you have an electric car, letting them do that could damage your car’s expensive battery pack, reducing its life and usability.

Here is our take on what happens after an accident, and why you need to ensure your electric car goes to a specialist garage for repair instead of a repair center chosen on price alone by your insurance company.

What your insurance company wants

Most insurance companies will have a list of approved bodyshops in your area that specialize in accident repair. 

In some cases, these repair centers will have negotiated lower-than-normal repair rates in exchange for becoming an ‘approved repair center’ for your insurance company. 

Lower rates means your insurance company has to pay less, giving lower operating costs and higher profits. Because it has an existing relationship with its approved repair shops, it will also help streamline paperwork and repair times. 

Toyota Prius body damage

Toyota Prius body damage

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As a consequence, your insurance company will do everything it can to persuade you to have your car repaired at one of its approved repair centers. 

Beware the paint-booth

While your insurance-approved repair shop may be extremely competent, it probably specializes in just bodywork repair, not a particular type or make of car. 

It may not know, for example, the correct handling procedure for making high-voltage battery packs safe, or have the correct specialist battery life equipment needed to remove them. 

If your car’s accident requires new body panels or a respray however, your car’s battery pack will need to be safely removed from the vehicle before it enters the paint booth. 

Why? 

As part of the painting process, your car will be placed under large heat lamps designed to harden the paint. 

But the heat they produce could expose your car’s battery pack to large amounts of heat, overheating the battery and potentially reducing its life. 


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Comments (9)
  1. Ironic that Nissan would be worried about battery heat during repairs but not when left standing in 110 degree Arizona parking
    lots. I would guess that Nissan isn't adverse to drumming up repair
    business for its own shops.
     
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  2. Any decent paint shop heated booth cooks around 150 - 160 degrees. It might not seem like that different from a 100 degree parking lot, but its the different between a well done steak and a slab of raw beef.
     
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  3. Kent,

    If it's too hot for you, then it's probably too hot for an electric car battery pack ;)

    (Apart from the Sodium sulfur ones... )
     
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  4. Painted car panels? That is SO last century. My modern EV has advanced polymer panels. You can hit it with a baseball bat and nothing happens.
     
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  5. Nice reporting there Nikki.

    I was unaware of this issue. I wonder if it pertains also to the Prius. When I had my 2006 Prius repaired there was no discussion of the issue.
     
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  6. Wow, I was JUST thinking about what to do if I ever get into an unfortunate collision with my new Ford Focus Electric!! What concerns me most (aside from the expensive battery pack) is the complex rear-view camera and distance-sensing rear bumper. (The thought of being rear-ended by a driver too distracted by a mobile phone... )

    What's more troubling... Since the electric version of the Focus looks like (and probably has a 98% parts commonality) with a conventional Ford Focus, whatever collision repair place I take it to after a collision could (easily, mistakenly, ignorantly, maliciously... Choose your adverb) treat my EV as a regular ICE Focus!
     
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  7. Thanks for sharing this information. I am glad to read such prior information. I do believe that insurance are very helpful at the time of accidents. And the tips for what is needed by the insurance company is very helpful. Thank you!
     
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  8. I just had some body work done on my DIY Electric Mazda Miata. (see www.envirokarma.org) I asked the shop specifically about their heat booth; they keep it at 100 degrees F, and the lamps shine on the outside. Really no hotter than average summer day.
     
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  9. the paint booth is not what you need to worry about..... the thing that is far more serious is if WELDING is required, which can zap controllers, chargers, and other electronic equipment if they don't disconnect everything they need to to isolate from the welding ground loops.
     
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