Car insurance is a legal requirement for a good reason: there’s a good chance that you’ll one day be involved in an accident – and even minor ones can be very expensive.
Insurance protects you from all the costs associated with an accident: repairs to the other cars and any other property that got damaged, and – if you have fully comprehensive car insurance – repairs to your own vehicle and property.
However, there are many ways in which your insurer can decide that a claim you’ve made is invalid, mostly to protect them from false or fraudulent claims.
Luckily, it’s very easy to prevent invalid claims: most of the time it’s just about being truthful when you apply for insurance, and about informing your insurer when your details change.
These are the main ways you could end up invalidating your car insurance.
Changing job and moving house
Insurers use postcodes and crime stats to gauge how likely you are to be a victim of theft or vandalism, while what you do for a living can have a major impact on how you use your car.
If you move house or switch jobs, therefore, you should inform your insurer as soon as possible. If you get into an accident with the wrong details on file, you’ll be paying the wrong premiums and turned down for a claim.
You need to notify your insurer when:
- You change your car
- You change address or
- You change where you park
- You change which drivers are covered
- You declare your car as being off the road with a SORN
- You change jobs
- You change how you use your car
Modifying your car
Making changes to your car is a sure-fire way to increase your premiums. Major bodywork and non-standard engines are more expensive to replace and repair, while simple things like upgraded stereo systems or minor cosmetic work like new paint jobs or spoilers can make you more susceptible to theft.
Contact your insurer before you make any changes – they’ll be able to tell you how much more you’ll have to pay each month.
Failing to declare convictions and points on your license
Your history as a driver is another major factor in how much you pay for car insurance. It stands to reason: if you have a history of dangerous or irresponsible driving, you’re much more likely to make a claim in future.
Points on your license and driving convictions are a matter of public record, so if think you can cut your costs by not declaring them when you apply for insurance, you’ll be caught as soon as you have to make a claim – and turned down on the spot.
Where you keep your car
Insurers need to know where you keep your car, especially overnight. You’ll see a major difference in premiums if you use off-street parking or even a garage, rather than parking on the street.
So if you tell your insurer that your car is parked in a private drive and it’s broken into on the main road, you won’t be able to claim. Likewise if you tell them you use an immobiliser, you need to actually use it to make a valid claim.
Lying about who uses the car – aka ‘fronting’
Fronting is a common act of car insurance fraud, and is actually against the law.
It’s when a parent lists themselves as the main driver on a car that actually belongs to their child, insuring the child as a secondary named driver. It will save you a lot of money to list a more experienced motorist as the main driver, but it’s a quick way to void your policy if the child causes a crash.
Lying about how you use the car
Insurers tend to divide how people use their cars – and how much they use them – into different categories. When you apply, you should be honest about how you plan to use the car and give an honest estimate of your annual mileage.
It’s not the same for every single insurer, but the usage categories are generally as follows:
- Social: Using the car for pleasure, or to visit friends and shops
- Social with commuting: Using the car for the activities above, as well as for your morning commute either to a station or one place of work
- Business use: Using the car to visit multiple work sites or clients, or to make sales
Annual mileage is also important; the less you drive every year, the less likely you are to get into an accident. Don’t guess – work out what you’re expecting to use, because if you’re off by more than a few hundred miles, your insurer may start to think you lied to them.
Keep your car in good condition
It’s not necessary to keep your car in shop-floor condition, but basic maintenance tasks are expected.
Make sure your tyres are topped up with air, that your oil is changed regularly and that there’s enough water in the radiator. And of course, ensure you get your MOT done on time.
Compare car insurance
A great way to save money on your car insurance is to compare prices with MoneySuperMarket. We work with dozens of the biggest names in car insurance and can offer you an incredible range of deals to suit all sorts of needs.