Ten car insurance myths busted

If you’re renewing your car insurance, you probably know that third-party cover is the cheapest and that sticking with your current provider means you get the best deal, right? Wrong. We blow ten car insurance myths out of the water.

Cars parked
With the new registration launched on 1 September, it's a popular time of year to buy a car. Thousands of drivers will be insuring new vehicles, while millions more will be looking for a new deal because their policy is ending.

Yet there are a number of widely-believed myths that could be stopping people from finding the best deals and more worryingly, some of these mean drivers end up uninsured.

We dispel the misconceptions to ensure you get the right level of cover at the best price.

1) Third party cover is cheaper than fully comp

If you’re a young driver then the chances are you won’t even bother looking at fully comprehensive cover – after all, third-party should be cheaper because it offers less protection.

But actually, recent moneysupermarket.com research shows this is not always the case. Surprising as it may seem, many younger drivers may find it costs less to insure their car on a fully comprehensive basis than it does third-party only.

Steve Sweeney, moneysupermarket.com’s head of car insurance, explained: "Traditionally motorists might assume a third-party only policy will be cheaper because of the reduced levels of cover, but in recent years, drivers with a more ‘risky' profile, such as younger motorists, have opted for this cover to keep the cost of motoring down.

“Providers have reacted to this perceived increase in risk by driving up the cost of third-party only cover.”

2) It’s cheaper to go direct

It’s a common misconception that comparison websites like moneysupermarket.com charge people commission, meaning the quotes are more expensive than they would be if you went directly to the insurer.

In fact, the consumer doesn’t pay for the comparison site service and can actually save around 35% by comparing different insurers.

The average amount saved by someone using moneysupermarket.com to buy their car insurance is £157 a year.

3) Insurers reward loyalty

Drivers stay with the same car insurance provider for an average of 2.7 years – but very often there are considerable savings to be made by switching.

People in the UK are collectively wasting £9.4billion because they stick with their existing insurer. Commenting on this shocking number, Steve said: “While they may lure you in with a competitive deal or special discount on year one of your policy, not ordinarily available to existing policy holders, you can be sure your renewal price will include a hefty premium - hardly the thanks you were expecting for your loyalty.”

4) It’s fine to insure your car in a parent’s name

Insurance can be really expensive for a new driver, so many think about insuring their car in a parent’s name and adding themselves as a named driver – a practice known as ‘fronting’.

A surprising number of people believe this is a simple way to bring down the price of insurance for a young motorist, but actually it is against the law. In fact, fronting invalidates an insurance agreement, so if you’re in an accident then you could find yourself without cover.

5) If I claim but am not at fault then I will not have to pay the excess

If you’re in a straightforward accident where the other party admits they are at fault then their insurer will pay out for all the repair costs to your car.

However, many people don’t realise that if the insurer cannot reclaim the full amount they pay out then the policyholder will need to pay the excess even if they are not at fault.

So, if the person who causes the damage is uninsured, or the thief cannot be caught and sued, then the excess will still need to be met.

6) There’s no limit to what I can claim if my car is broken into

In recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of small, portable gadgets routinely being carried in cars. When you think about how much MP3 players, iPhones, laptops and SatNavs can cost, you can see how the value of a vehicle’s contents can quickly mount up.

Unfortunately, not all policies will cover all these possessions if your car is broken into or stolen. In fact, most insurers will apply an upper limit to what can be claimed, so make sure you remove anything expensive from the vehicle whenever you leave it.

7) New cars are always more expensive to insure

There is an element of truth in this myth – the value of a vehicle certainly affects the premiums the driver will pay. However, many other things are factored in, including security devices and safety mechanisms.

Newer cars will usually have better technology in place and be harder to steal, often making them safer to drive and park than other, older vehicles.

8) My fully comprehensive insurance extends to any car

Most fully comprehensive polices include cover to drive other cars, as long as the policyholder has the owner’s permission.

However, it's important to remember that your cover will be third party only. This means that if you were to drive the car and crash it, the insurance would only cover the cost of the damage to the other vehicle, and not the car you were driving. It could therefore result in a substantial bill – for you.

9) If my car is written off in an accident, I can reclaim the remaining premium

If you pay for a year’s car insurance, but then crash and the vehicle is written off after two months, you cannot then demand ten month’s worth of premium back.

The contract you enter into with an insurer is for an entire year, not month by month. Even if you’re paying on a monthly basis, you’re just paying what you owe on the entire year’s cover, so if you wrote off your vehicle, you would need to continue paying.

10) Cheapest is best

While price is an important factor when buying insurance it’s not the only consideration. It’s also vital to ensure you have the right level of cover.

Because of the level of competition in the market, many insurers have stripped out elements, such as windscreen cover and a courtesy car, that used to be routinely included as standard in order to bring their premiums down.

It is therefore important, not only to make sure you have the level of cover you need but also to ensure that, when you are shopping around, you are comparing like-for-like.

Once you factor in the ‘extras’ you need, the policy that initially appeared cheapest may not actually work out to be best value.

moneysupermarket.com’s car insurance comparison tool makes this easy as it clearly shows, with ticks and crosses, what is and isn’t included in the policy you’ve been quoted for. You can then stipulate which of those you need and have the cost recalculated.

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