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Are you guilty of ‘fronting’? It's when a parent insures a car in his or her name, even though one of their children is going to be doing most of the driving.
The insurance industry deals with about 1,000 cases of fronting a year – and if you are caught the punishment can be serious.
But what exactly is fronting, and why is it illegal? If you want to understand fronting, you first have to understand the difference between the ‘main’ driver on a car insurance policy and any additional ‘named’ drivers. So, here goes.
When you apply for car insurance, you have to name the main driver on the policy.
It’s usually the person who owns the vehicle and drives it most often. The main driver also has the biggest impact on the cost of cover. In other words, the insurer will take into account the age, experience and profession of the main driver when setting the premium.
Name that driver
You can then add more drivers, either naming them individually, or insuring the vehicle for ‘any driver’, allowing anyone to get behind the wheel. Insurance companies usually charge for additional drivers and the costs vary according to the policy terms and conditions.
Put simply, fronting is when you falsely name an older, more experienced motorist as the main driver, usually to cut the cost of cover.
Let’s say your daughter has just passed her driving test and she has bought a car to celebrate. If she wants to take out insurance in her own name, the premium is over £1000, but the price drops to £500 if you are down as the main driver.
Tempting. And many parents are seduced. The fact they might be funding the cost of the car is another reason why they feel they are doing nothing wrong. But they are. Fronting is fraud, and punishable accordingly.
The example above is a clear case of deliberate fronting, but it’s not always easy to establish the main driver of a vehicle, particularly if you share a car with your partner or other members of your family.
However, there are several tell-tale signs. If, for example, you drive the car every day, to and from a place of work or study, or you are responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle, it’s probably safe to assume you are the main driver. Anyone with any doubts should talk to their insurer as staff should be trained to spot potential cases of fronting.
It’s important to get it right because the consequences of fronting can be serious. For a start, it will almost certainly render your insurance invalid, which means you could end up with a big bill in the event of an accident.
As stated, fronting is also a type of insurance fraud, which is a criminal offence. The last thing you need is a criminal conviction. It will not only make it harder for you to arrange affordable insurance in the future, but it could also inhibit your access to other financial products such as credit cards and mortgages.
Honesty gets the best policy
Ok, so fronting is against the law. But there are legitimate ways to take advantage of the whole main driver-additional driver thing. For a start, you can piggyback on your parent’s policy as an additional driver. Your mum or dad will pay more for their cover, but it will still be cheaper than a policy in your own name.