AXA UK issues fire risk warning amidst £500,000 insurance loss on electric bikes and scooters

AXA UK has warned insurers of the growing fire risks associated with electric bikes and scooters with lithium-ion batteries posing a significant fire risk when damaged, over-charged or exposed to extreme temperatures.

Related topics:  AXA,  insurance
Tabitha Lambie | Editorial assistant, Barcadia Media
19th August 2022
Person with electric bike
"It’s incredibly concerning that we are continuing to see a rise in incidents involving e-bikes and e-scooters. When these batteries and chargers fail, they do so with ferocity and because the fires develop so rapidly the situation can quickly become incredibly serious."
- Dougie Barnett, AXA Commercial director of customer risk management

This warning follows AXA covering almost £500,000 of losses on two claims involving lithium battery fires. The firm expects the frequency and cost of these fires are likely to grow “exponentially” as electric bikes and scooters become more popular.

AXA has claimed that recent data shows that these fires are predominately occurring in residential buildings where the associated damage can be “devastating.”

Detailing one of the recent claims, AXA has said it was the result of a faulty e-scooter battery that was being charged in the kitchen of a ground-floor terrace flat. An explosion occurred and the fire spread throughout the home, extending to two stories above.

 In response to these recent claims, AXA UK has recommended electric bike and scooter users never leave batteries charging in a building that is unattended or overnight, to unplug or disconnect the battery as soon as charging is complete, and to ensure it is charged on a hard surface where heat can disperse.

The insurer has also recommended that electric bike and scooter batteries should be monitored and assessed for damage (as well as the charger) and for smoke alarms to be fitted where charging takes place.

As well as the fire risks to residential properties, AXA has also highlighted potential fire risks of exploding lithium batteries to commercial businesses.

These businesses must ensure they have put in place reasonable precautions, review and update existing fire risk assessments, and specific fire extinguishers designed for use on fires involving lithium batteries.

Warning insurers of the risks posed by electric bikes and scooters, Dougie Barnett, AXA Commercial director of customer risk management has said:

“Fire safety should be the top priority when it comes to charging and storing electric bikes and scooters. These forms of transport are becoming increasingly common due to the range of benefits they provide, however, this makes it even more essential that people understand the risks of storing them in the wrong way or using damaged batteries."

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