Getting the right level of car insurance is very important, both for ensuring you are protected in the event of an accident or mishap, as well as for giving you peace of mind.
But there are a number of common misconceptions among drivers that can result in problems that range from having the wrong type of insurance to seeing claims turned down – or even getting behind the wheel without proper cover.
Here are some of the most widely believed car insurance myths – and the truth behind them.
1. Putting your name on your son or daughter’s insurance can help cut their premiums
Car insurance for young people can be particularly expensive, as statistics suggest they are more likely to have collisions. In some cases, therefore, parents may consider putting themselves down as the main driver on a child’s policy.
This is a very bad idea: the main driver on a policy should be exactly that – the person who uses the vehicle the most. If a parent pretends to be the main driver just to reduce premiums, this is a practice known as “fronting”: it is against insurers’ rules and it can lead to the policy being invalidated as well as, potentially, prosecution for fraud.
2. If an accident is not my fault, I won’t have to pay anything
If you are involved in an incident and you can establish that it was another driver’s fault, you will still have to pay your insurance excess and then claim this from the other driver’s insurer.
But if blame can’t be apportioned, you will not be able to recover your excess payment and this may also affect your no claims bonus.
3. My insurance allows me to drive other cars
In the past, if someone had comprehensive insurance on their own vehicle this often contained something called “driving other cars cover”, which meant that they were insured, at least on third-party terms, for using other people’s vehicles.
Far fewer policies contain such clauses today, so without checking it is safest to assume you are not covered.
4. I don’t need to tell my insurer about modifications to my vehicle until I renew my cover
While it is clear what information you need to provide an insurer with when you apply for a policy, changes that occur during the policy term can be more of a grey area. It makes sense to inform your insurer of a change of address, for example, if only for admin reasons (although this could also affect the level of your premiums).
But many people do not realise that insurers should be told about modifications to their vehicle either before they are made or as soon as they are carried out.
Changes such that affect performance, such as a bigger engine or adding roll bars, are likely to have an impact on your premiums: if you tell your insurer in advance, you can check whether the alterations you are planning are worth the extra insurance cost.
5. I don’t need to report minor accidents if I don’t plan to claim
If you have a small scrape in a car park, say, there may appear to be no need to tell your insurer if you are not planning to make a claim for the cost of repairing the damage – which might be the case if the cost of repairs is less than your policy excess.
But most insurers state that they should be informed about any accidents, however minor, for two main reasons. Firstly, if another vehicle is involved, you may face a claim from the other driver for damage to their car – and it makes sense to give your insurer your version of events in case you need them to dispute such a claim.
Secondly, even minor damage could affect the condition and value of your car, which may in turn have an impact on your insurance premiums in the future.