It has been a legal requirement to have car insurance since 1930. To drive any motorised vehicle on a public road, you must have a minimum of third party insurance. Preferably, and as long as it is not prohibitively expensive because you are a new or young driver, the best insurance to go for is fully comprehensive. But despite the fact that insurance has been with us for over 80 years, there are still plenty of people who do not understand aspects of their policy. This can cause them a big problem if they have to make a claim and suddenly find that because they’ve neglected to tell their insurers everything or have chosen the wrong policy, their insurance is invalid or inadequate. So let’s have a look at the five most commonly held beliefs about car insurance.
Number one of the list of ‘getting it wrong’ on car insurance is the belief that you won’t have to pay the excess if an accident is not your fault or your car is stolen. This is not the case. The excess is an amount agreed by you at the time you take your policy out and is the first part of any claims cost that you agree to pay if you make a claim. The only way that you may get your excess back is if your insurance company recovers all of the costs from the third party involved in the accident. As most car thieves are not caught, it is extremely unlikely that you will get your excess back if you claim for vehicle theft. Many people agree to a higher excess fee when taking a policy out to reduce their premiums. Remember, only do this if you are comfortably able to afford to pay out that amount in the event of a claim.
Driving other cars
Many years ago, insurance policies frequently allowed drivers to drive any vehicle under the same insurance policy. It was the driver and not the vehicle that was covered by insurance. However, things have changed and now it is the vehicle rather than the driver that is technically ‘insured’. Some fully comprehensive policies do allow you to drive another car with the owner’s permission, but remember that in most cases you will only have third party insurance if you drive someone else’s car. It is vital to know both the details of your own insurance and the person whose car you are using. If you are involved in an accident and only have third party cover you could be liable for your own damage. And that could be expensive.
The named driver ‘scam’
Although it is perfectly acceptable for there to be named drivers on insurance policies, some people have tried to take advantage of this. The trick is to insure the car in another person’s name (who may be more experienced or have a better insurance record) and then putting the actual regular driver down as the ‘named driver’. This is most common with younger drivers, who may insure the car in their parent’s name and then add themselves as a named driver. This slightly dodgy manipulation of the insurance policy can mean much cheaper insurance for an inexperienced driver. However, insurance companies are not stupid, and they have realised that this is an increasing problem. One quick check with DVLA will tell them who the registered keeper of the vehicle is and they’ll know instantly that the ‘named driver is actually the primary user of the car. This could invalidate your insurance and making a claim could prove to be very difficult indeed.
A commonly believed myth is that your car insurance also covers your personal possessions in the car. While there may be a small provision for personal effects, it is usually limited to £100. So trying to claim for a laptop or expensive mobile phone that may have been stolen from your car is not going to be covered by your car insurance. The best advice here is don’t leave valuables in your car, particularly easily stolen objects such as high-end tech (including satellite navigation systems), wallets or jewellery.
A conviction means no insurance
Finally, there’s the very common myth about how a conviction means it’s impossible to get insurance. Although a serious conviction like drink driving or dangerous driving may put you into a much higher risk category as far as the insurer is concerned, it does not mean that you are forever blacklisted. Specialist insurers are now dealing exclusively in high-risk drivers, and that includes those with drink-driving convictions. Yes, you probably will have to pay higher premiums. But just like any other motorist, the longer you keep your driving record clean, the lower your premiums will become. The best way to find a specialist insurer if you do have convictions or points on your license is to use a comparison website. These useful sites give you an at a glance list of insurers who can provide you with coverage. It’s the easiest way to get a good deal on your car insurance.