EV Charging Installations

Published On : 02 May 2024

Contractors and Site Owner/Operators - EV installations

The push to roll out increasing numbers of EV charging stations sometimes means that not enough thought is given to the location of the EV charging areas, and also to the ramifications of what could happen in the event of EV battery fire. The occurrence of EV fires is currently low but the impact of an EV fire can be far more significant due to the challenges in extinguishing it.

Common Issues

In an effort to keep a lid on costs, EV charging areas are sometimes positioned where it’s most convenient (and therefore cost-effective) to connect to existing incoming electrical feeds.  This can be problematic; if your EV charging area is near (or even above!) emergency exit routes or sensitive or business critical infrastructure, then the consequences of a fire could be catastrophic.

Similarly, putting the EV charging area at the perimeter of your site might avoid the problems listed above, but what about your neighbours?  If a fire starts at your EV charging point and spreads to neighbouring sites, the financial loss they incur would almost certainly be laid at your door, and if you’re in an industrial or commercial area, then the loss of income claims alone would likely dwarf any property damage claim, let alone if there’s injury or loss of life.

If you do have a fire, then where does the run-off from the emergency services attempts to control the fire go?  An EV battery fire is actually an exothermic chemical reaction within the battery producing both toxic and flammable gasses. It cannot be extinguished until it has either run out of stored energy or the battery and be sufficiently cooled slowing down or stopping the thermal runaway process. Most fire services will use large volumes of water to try to control them, and the water will absorb many of the toxic pollutants discharged during an EV battery fire, and again, dealing with the consequences of a pollution event can be expensive, with statutory clean-up costs easily running north of £100,000 if the run off reaches watercourses, water tables or even the surface water drain system.

Can you avoid these risks?

The short answer is no.  The installations themselves are invariably not the problem, as the fires in EV’s usually occur as a result of damaged or defective batteries1.                                      

However, what you can do is give some thought to where EV charging stations are positioned and protected to minimise the likelihood of a fire causing catastrophic property damage, pollution or causing injury to both employees and third parties alike.

Who might be at fault?

This is an area where blame could attach to both site owners/operators as well as the contractors involved in the design and construction of the installation.

If the site owner/operator provides the design brief to the contractor on the positioning of the charging area, then any property losses or physical injury claims arising from the positioning of the charging area would likely rest with them.

However, any changes to that brief made by the contractor could pull them into the claim.

If the contractor was responsible for the design of the site, then they would most likely be joining the site owner in any subsequent legal action.


So would my insurance policy cover me?

As is so often the case, the answer is “it depends”…

Insurers for the site owners/operators might take the view that positioning an EV charging area close to business critical areas or combustible materials was negligent, and that the policyholder has failed to mitigate their exposure in doing so.  If the same insurers were not told about the installations, then it’s certainly feasible that any claim resulting from the installation could be declined.

Unless they have cover for own site pollution clean-up costs, then the costs of remediating their own site would not be covered, and depending on the wording of the pollution cover, the policy might not even deal with any third party pollution damage; the word “unexpected” has found its way into many UK pollution cover wordings, and it could be argued that if suitable precautions had not been in place (failing to place bunds or other drainage protections around an area that would leach toxic pollutants in the event of a fire for example) then the pollution could hardly be considered unexpected if there was a fire.

Contractors who assume responsibility for the design risks could also find themselves involved in claims where the positioning of the charging area has either led to or exacerbated any losses or personal injury, or indeed if they have suggested moving the area to make the installation project easier and/or cheaper to deliver.   

Contractors could also have issues with their own insurance cover if they’ve completed an installation despite voicing their professional concerns about the design or location of the area and there are claims that have arisen from the design or location of the charging area.

The insurance problem gets amplified if the contractor has delivered multiple iterations of this site design and is consequently required to carry out remedial works to sites where there has been no damage.

This is why a site-specific risk assessment is essential to identify the risks and demonstrates what steps have been taken to either remove the risk or reduce it .

As ever, our suggestion would be that you engage with experienced professionals that have expertise in this area to ensure your interests are protected and that appropriate consideration of the risks involved has been undertaken.

1 https://www.ev-resource.com/articles/burning-issues-the-truth-about-ev-battery-fires-part-one#/


The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Pen Underwriting Limited trading as OAMPS Hazardous Industries accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.


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