Anyone who buys a car will know about car insurance but some people may be on “auto-pilot” when it comes to renewal time or simply never give the whole process very much thought and end up making costly mistakes with their policies. With that in mind we thought it might be interesting to take a look at the 5 most common car insurance “fails” that befall motorists every day.
It used to be fairly common practice for parents to insure their son or daughter’s car in their own name and add the offspring as a “named driver” thereby considerably reducing the premium. However insures cottoned on to this idea a while back and now ask carefully worded questions regarding the number of cars in the household and who the main driver is. If you have been found to be “fronting”, as the practise is dubbed, your insurance policy will be invalidated which could cost you far more than the savings made on the initial deception.
To drive on UK roads legally you have been required to have adequate insurance since 1930 and I’m sure most people are aware of the standard levels of cover provided by car insurance providers. Third party cover is the minimum requirement and is obviously the cheapest so appeals to many first time drivers but beware, it only protects third parties (pedestrians or drivers) so they do not lose out financially if you cause damage to their vehicle or injure them in any way. As such it offers you no recompense for your own car whatsoever. The next level up is Third party fire and theft and in addition to third party insurance (as the name implies) covers you should your vehicle catch fire or is stolen (for which a police report will most likely be required). Finally there is Comprehensive cover AKA “fully comp” and in addition to the other 2 levels of insurance covers you for accidental damage that is your own fault and often includes extras like courtesy cars and breakdown cover. Beware though it is a common misconception that being “fully comp” entitles you to drive any other car with the owner’s permission, it may be a benefit on some policies but even then you will probably only be covered for third party. You should always check the policy document carefully and always make sure you have adequate cover for your specific needs. It may only be worth taking out a third party only policy on your 1997 Rover 200 but if you are lucky enough to own a BMW X6 then you’re going to want to make sure that baby is covered all ends up.
It may be tempting, when taking out a car insurance policy, to up the excess requirement to reduce your premium. You may very well forget all about it until you have to make a claim and get a nasty surprise when you find out you are responsible for the first £500 (or more) of the claim, ouch! You may not even be aware there was an excess charge when you took out the policy (always check – see above). Also be aware that even if the accident wasn’t your fault you may still have to cough up the excess if your insurance company fails to get all its money back from the third party.
MOT and Tax
Most people are probably aware that driving around in an untaxed vehicle which doesn’t have a current MOT when it is required by law to do so is a criminal offence but did you know that doing so may also invalidate your insurance policy? It is not always the case that an insurance company will fail to pay up in such circumstances (again check the small print) as they may just state that the vehicle needs to be roadworthy while others are more specific and state that a valid MOT (if it is required) must be in place to validate the policy. However should you make a claim in these circumstances then the value of the vehicle will be severely reduced.
Don’t be tempted to “forget” certain information pertaining to driving convictions even if you don’t think a speeding fine whilst riding your motorbike is relevant to you taking out an insurance policy on a car, as insurance companies expect full disclosure. It’s simply not worth trying to deceive just to get a cheaper policy if that same policy becomes worthless at the time it is truly needed, or worse.
At the end of the day it’s all pretty simple – to avoid falling victim to these insurance “fails”, make sure you shop around as there are always deals to be had (for example cheap car insurance from Express Insurance) be honest and upfront when taking out your policy, make sure your car is always taxed and MOT’d and always check the small print.