Car Van and Motorbike Insurance


There are ways to cut the cost of your motor insurance premiums, but lying about who is really driving the car, van or motorbike most of the time is not one of them. This scam, known as fronting, is something that many people do thinking they are doing nothing wrong, but it will result in claims being refused.

Legitimate ways to reduce costs include raising the excess you are prepared to pay – that is the amount of any claim you will cover yourself.  The higher the excess, the lower the premiums.

By limiting the cover to named drivers, rather than any driver, you will automatically cut the costs. Keeping your car, van or motorbike in the garage overnight, or not driving many miles in a year will all help.

Insurance companies will often reduce your premiums if you are an advanced driver, and have passed a course to prove it. Ask your insurer for any schemes that it will accept.

Security devices to prevent your vehicle being stolen will also help reduce your premiums. Immobilisers and alarms are fitted to many new cars, vans and bikes as standard now, so make sure you mention these when you get your policy.

If you can pay a few hundred pounds for a policy in one go, then you can save yourself some more money. Paying by instalments will incur interest, sometimes at more than 20% APR.

Changes to EU legislation in December 2012 mean that insurers are no longer allowed to price your motor policy based on gender, which for women is a shame as they were benefiting from their statistically ‘better’ driving style.

Now, insurers must price their policies based on driver experience, whether you have had a recent accident, or whether you have any driving convictions. Of course, it goes without saying that the type of vehicle you drive and the number of miles you do will all have an impact.

Motor insurance is a legal requirement in the UK, no matter whether you drive a car, van or motorbike. The minimum cover is third party car insurance – which pays for the damage to the car you hit, but not your own.

But for many drivers, fully comprehensive motor insurance – which covers your car too – is actually cheaper for experienced drivers. It is a myth that you can get cheaper cover on a third-party motor insurance policy now.

Women have fewer accidents than men – it is a fact, whether men like it or not – so for all the jokes about women drivers, we can have the last laugh. At least financially.

Extras on motor insurance policies include items such as handbag cover, which will cover the contents of your handbag if your car or van is broken into and your bag stolen. But that is not the only thing we can expect from our motor insurance. Other items covered include legal expenses and the ability to drive another owner’s vehicle with their permission – although this is becoming rarer.

When you have bought your policy, your insurer will send you a Certificate of Insurance, which proves you are entitled to drive on UK roads. It will cover the make and model of vehicle, who is allowed to drive it, through a list of named drivers, and any other additions you may have added to the policy, such as no claims bonus protection.

If you have any questions about your cover, you can speak to your insurer to get clarification – it is far better to do that than find out you are not covered if you need to make a claim.

There are three types of cover:

  • Third Party.
  • Third Party, Fire and Theft.
  • Fully Comprehensive.

Third Party Cover

This is the most basic form, and will insure you against damage or injury to a third party in a motor accident. Check with your insurer, as some of these policies will cover you if you are off the road too, in a private car park for example.

Third Party, Fire and Theft Insurance

The addition of fire and theft to the third party covers you, as you might expect from the name, if your vehicle is damaged in a fire or stolen.

Fully Comprehensive Motor Insurance

This adds accidental damage cover to your policy, and also covers the same as the other two lesser policies. Some may also give you third party cover to drive someone else’s car with their permission. But be careful, as many insurers have now withdrawn this benefit from policies as it was being abused.

Fully comprehensive often has extras included, such as legal cover, windscreen repair or replacement, breakdown cover, and cover for your personal possessions inside the vehicle itself.
You need to shop around for the right motor insurance deal for you as prices vary considerably depending on the type of vehicle you have and how old you are.

Women are generally considered to be a lower risk for insurers – although thanks to changes in EU legislation insurers are not allowed to price based on gender any longer. So remember, sometimes the policies targeted towards women are not the cheapest or best cover for you, so check before you buy.

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The most effective way to reduce your premiums is to build up a ‘no claims bonus’ which you build up for all the years that you have had your insurance but do not claim.

Be aware though, if you do not have a policy in your name for more than two years, your no claims bonus evaporates and you will have to start the process from scratch. Having said that, many insurers realise the injustice of this and will accept proof of you being a named driver on a different policy to allow your no claims bonus to stand.

But the amount your no claims bonus is worth will vary from one insurer to the next insurance provider, so do not be surprised if at one company it is worth a 70% discount, while at another it is worth just a 50% discount on your quoted motor insurance price. Depending on the insurer, you may reach a maximum No Claims Discount after between 4-10 years of claim free driving.

If you want to keep your no claims discount even if you have to make a claim, you can protect it at an extra cost. Or, if your claim is deemed a ‘no fault claim’ because all of the insurer’s costs can be redeemed from a third party, then your no claims bonus will also remain intact.

You have an obligation to tell your insurer about anything which will impact on its risk assessment of you as a driver. If you have failed to disclose something relevant, your claim could be denied. So be very careful about this ‘catch all’ clause in policies.
If you have lied, you have committed fraud, so there is no point in thinking your policy will be valid. Some convictions, for speeding for example, are considered ‘spent’ after a set period of time, but if you are unsure whether you have convictions that qualify as ‘spent’ it is best to disclose them to the insurer.
Convictions resulting in fines take five years to be spent. If a motorist is fined for drink driving and has his or her licence endorsed, the rehabilitation period would be five years – the length applicable to the fine – rather than 11 years – the length of time before a driver convicted of drink driving is entitled to a clean driving licence.
Fully comprehensive motor insurance policies sometimes have legal cover included in the policy, which will pay your fees if you are sued or have to go to court. Almost all motor insurance policies will offer this as an option, so think very carefully about taking this, as it could save you a lot of money on your motor insurance in the long run.
Some companies offer a motor insurance scheme where you can pay insurance only for the miles you drive, which can save some drivers – especially the young – a significant amount of money. This is known as Pay As You Drive, or PAYD.

The PAYD scheme, involves the insurer installing a black box into your vehicle that registers the number of miles you drive – and at what time – and charges accordingly. Depending on your profile and driving habits, this could mean reducing your car insurance premiums.

Another advantage of this system is that you can have a ‘panic button’ fitted within the system in case you breakdown or have an accident. You can press this button, and because of the satellite tracking, help will be able to find you very quickly, which is a real comfort if you are woman on your own.

Some people will unwittingly make false claims themselves through ‘fronting’. This is usually done by parents trying to reduce the high cost of insuring a car for their teenage children. If your child drives the car more often than you do, you are committing an offence by saying you are the ‘main driver’.

But there are other ways that you could be an unwitting victim of fraudulent claims. Some crooks will deliberately cause accidents so they can claim against your insurance for anything from whiplash to paralysis, and this adds insult to injury when it comes to the awful experience of having a genuine crash.

Always take the insurance details of the other party if you are involved in a crash, take pictures on your mobile phone if you can, and ask any bystanders to be witnesses if needs be. Almost all phones now have a camera, so if you can take pictures of the damage to both vehicles at the crash site, and take pictures of any other elements that may be useful, for example skid marks on the road, obstacles that may have been in the way, anything that could have obscured your view, the weather conditions on the road surface and so on. It may seem laborious at the time, but it could save you heartache later on.

Stay calm, and do not be intimidated by the other driver if you can help it. If you feel in danger, and it is safe to do so, then stay inside your locked car and call the police for assistance.

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All car insurance policies have an element of cover to drive your vehicle overseas, but do not take it for granted. Check with your car insurer before you make your trip.

You also need to make sure you have all of the relevant equipment for driving on the Continent, as many road rules are quite different to those here in the UK. Check the AA website or RAC website for more complete details.

You will only have the basic car insurance provided to drive in the EU, which is to cover accident damage or injury to third parties in most cases. Some motor insurance policies will have additional cover over and above this, but you may find you have to have to pay an additional premium to boost your cover while driving overseas. You should check with your insurer before you leave.

Green Cards are issued by some insurers as they are internationally recognised, and while they are not an car insurance certificate, they can help you if you are speaking to the police in a foreign country as they are immediately identifiable.

In some countries – such as Austria – you are required to have your car insurance documents with you at all times while in your vehicle, so they can be checked by the police if you are stopped.