Millions of drivers are breaking the law

With car insurance premiums rising, it’s not surprising that drivers are looking for ways to bring down the cost of cover. However, worrying research from moneysupermarket.com reveals that one in 10 families could be inadvertently breaking the law.

Adding an additional driver to your car insurance policy can help reduce the cost and, as long as the car is insured in the main driver’s name, there is nothing wrong with doing that. But it is illegal to insure a car in the name of someone who isn’t the main driver – this is known as ‘fronting’.

Fronting is most common among households looking to bring down the cost of insuring newly qualified drivers. Insurance premiums for young drivers can be extortionate, particularly for males, because claims data shows they are higher risk than older, more experienced drivers - so it’s not surprising that many parents search for ways to bring the cost down to a minimum.

The survey by moneysupermarket.com found that 57% of people said they weren’t aware fronting was illegal and 30% of parents say they’d consider fronting on their car insurance to bring down the cost of cover for their child – despite more than half of them knowing it’s against the law.

Yet fronting can prove a completely false economy. It may mean lower premiums initially but, because it’s against the law, the insurance is basically invalid. Therefore, the driver is effectively uninsured which means that an insurer could turn down any claim, leaving you liable for all the costs. Add to that the risk of prosecution and it’s really not a risk worth taking.

Risky business

Steve Sweeney, head of car insurance at moneysupermarket.com, warned drivers not to gamble with their cover.

He said: “Those considering lying to their insurer to save money are playing a very risky game. A motorist claiming to be the main driver – when they are not – is a dangerous move. It may save you money in the short term on your premiums, but if caught your insurance will be invalidated and a younger driver could face court - charged with driving without insurance.”

Pricey premiums

But you do have to have some sympathy for young drivers. Premiums for 18-year-old males can be around £3,400 – more than many first cars!

However, there are things you can do to drive down the price. It will still be expensive for most new drivers, but you could save a few hundred pounds.

One key thing insurers consider when looking at the risk a driver presents is the vehicle. Newer, more reliable cars – those less commonly driven by ‘boy racers’ – will usually cost less to insure.

You can see some examples in our article ‘Cheaper car insurance for young drivers’.

So, if you’re a young driver, how else can you try to reduce your premiums? Here are a few of our top tips:

Compare, compare, compare

Yes, I know these articles always start with this, but taking the time to compare car insurance providers can really make a difference, especially for younger drivers. Some insurers may be less willing to take on a new motorist than others and so set the price deliberately high. That means if you don’t shop around, you could pay far more than you need to.

On average, people save £218 a year by using our site to compare providers – not bad.

If you’re considering third-party cover only because you think it’s cheaper, then you should still check how much fully comprehensive cover is.

Bizarrely, sometimes it’s cheaper to apply for the more extensive protection. That might sound crazy but some insurers see you as more risky if you apply for third party cover – so that ups the price.

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Go online

It can be cheaper to apply for your policy via the internet as a number of insurers will offer a discount.

Add a parent

Although fronting is out, you will often find that adding an additional driver to a younger driver’s policy will bring down the cost. Of course, that driver needs to be more experienced, adding another teenager is unlikely to help!

Build a no-claims discount

Another good reason for not fronting (if the law isn’t enough!) is that you can build up a few years without claims in your own name.

Your premium might be expensive now, but by proving you’re a careful driver with some incident-free years on the road, you’ll soon find they drop.

Take your Pass Plus

Okay, so by the time you’ve passed your driving test, the last thing you want to do is spend more money on additional lessons.

However, the Pass Plus course gives you further training that’s not included in your initial lessons, such as driving at night, on the motorway and in bad weather. Many insurers will offer you a discount if you’ve taken it, so you could find it even pays for itself, as well as making you safer on the road.

Cut down your miles

When you apply for insurance, you estimate the number of miles you’ll be doing in a year. If you can cut back on using the car (maybe keep taking the bus to college or uni, for example) then you can reduce your mileage and could bring down your premiums.

Secure your vehicle

Does your car have an alarm and immobiliser? These could cut your insurance costs. Also, give some thought to where you’re keeping the vehicle. If you can store it off the road at night, maybe in a garage or on a driveway, you could pay less as you’re less risky.

Pay annually

Admittedly, many younger drivers will struggle to pay out their car insurance in one go – but this is usually the cheapest way to pay for your policy if you can manage it. When you spread the costs across 12 months, you’ll also be paying interest on the rest of the premium, which will make it more expensive.

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