Are you breaking the law for your kids?
Filed under: Motoring
So what is this brand of criminality that is so rife among parents? And why is it so alarming?
Motoring advice & info
FrontingThe crime in question is known as 'fronting' and occurs when a well-meaning parent tries to help out in order to make their offspring's insurance more affordable. They claim to be the main driver of the car, and add their child as the second driver - even though the child does the vast majority of the miles in it. It might seem like a cunning plan because it can shave hundreds of pounds off the cost of a policy.
This is why it's so common. The research found a quarter of motorists (27 per cent) would front on a car insurance policy to save money; one in seven (or 14 per cent) have already done so for one child or more, and 13 per cent haven't yet but would do so. A further 15 per cent would consider "fronting" on a policy as they are looking to save cash.
Motoring advice & info
Breaking the lawThe poll also found British motorists are puzzled over the legality of "fronting". One in four (23 per cent) think it is legal, while a third (33 per cent) admitted to not knowing. While not perfect, older drivers are just slightly more clued up than their younger counterparts; a fifth (20 per cent) of over 55s think it is legal, compared to 24 per cent of 18 - 34 year old drivers.
Peter Harrison, car insurance expert at MoneySupermarket, said: "Ignorance may be bliss to motorists who think "fronting" is a legitimate way to reduce the cost of motoring for their family and stay on the right side of the law, but in reality it's quite the opposite. "Fronting" on a car insurance policy is illegal and it is worrying how many motorists are willing to take this risk."
Repercussions"Despite the obvious attraction of cutting costs on your car insurance policy, there will be serious repercussions if you are caught falsely claiming to be the main driver of the vehicle," says Harrison.
In the best case scenario you will be charged the correct premium as a lump sum. However, there are many more serious options. For a start the policy could be cancelled. You would then have to declare this every time you apply for insurance in future, which means many won't offer you any cover and your costs will rise.
Insurers can also refuse to pay-out for any claims, or can settle a third-party claim and recover the cost from the parent.
In the worst case, Harrison says: "It would be classified as fraud by an insurer, and could invalidate the policy. It could also result in the younger driver ending up in court being charged with driving without any insurance." This could lead to high fines and six penalty points (an automatic ban for new drivers).
Cars most likely to be caught speeding
High riskAnd while you may think you're unlikely to get caught, insurers are increasingly likely to launch an investigation. So, for example, if an accident occurred at university hall of residence, they may investigate how often the car is based away from the home of the main driver, including examining CCTV footage. Fraud costs insurers millions of pounds a year, so they are quite happy to spend a small fortune investigating it.
There are, the experts highlight, some much better ways to bring the cost of insurance down within the law.
- Shop around - People who use MoneySupermarket to compare car insurance prices save on average £375.
- Buy online - Many car insurance providers offer discounts to customers that buy online.
- Mileage limit - Consider a mileage limit or to only drive at certain hours of the day.
- Car security - Make sure you have an alarm and immobiliser.
- Drive a car with a smaller engine - A newer, more reliable car that is less likely to be used by 'boy racers' will have a cheaper premium. Aim to drive a car like this for at least two years after passing your test - and forget about turbo-charged cars, with big spoilers, fat tyres, alloy rims and other "sexy" extras.
- Parents - If at all possible, avoid being added to a parent's insurance policy. It prevents you from building up your own no-claims bonus. However, adding a more experienced named driver to your policy may bring down your premium.
- Pass Plus - This is a certificate where a young driver who has already passed his or her driving test receives specific lessons in night, motorway and town traffic driving; achieving Pass Plus can earn significant discounts (as much as 35%) on your car insurance.
- Payment method - Drivers looking to keep the cost of their car insurance manageable may opt for the convenience of paying by monthly instalments, rather than in an annual lump sum. Those who decide on monthly repayments can expect to pay an additional APR for this option though, so shopping around for the best deal is crucial.