A motorist between the ages of 17 and 22 can expect to pay upwards of £1,000 for comprehensive cover, more than double the average price. And some pay much more than that, simply because of the claims figures which show young people are involved in a disproportionately high number of accidents.
But the end result is that many young people simply cannot afford such high premiums. And this has given rise to a practice known as fronting, where a more experienced driver who is not the main driver of a car takes out insurance and adds the youngster onto the policy.
This can save money but it can cause big strife for all concerned. Here’s why…
What is fronting?
Fronting occurs when an older, more experienced driver falsely insures a vehicle in their own name, even though the main driver is a younger, riskier motorist.
Let’s say your son or daughter is heading off to university and is taking the family runabout. A policy in their name is pricey, so you decide to put yourself forward as the main driver, adding your child as an additional named driver. The premium is now more reasonable, so everyone is happy. Or are they?
Fronting is often well meaning and can lead to lower premiums. But the practice is also illegal and could end up costing you dear. And it doesn’t matter if the fronting is deliberate or not. If you are caught out, you could be in big trouble.
Make a claim
The issue usually comes to light if you make a claim on your policy. For example, if your child is involved in an accident, the insurance company would no doubt investigate. It could then discover that your son or daughter is in fact the main driver of the vehicle, even though he or she is named only as an additional driver.
Its suspicions might be aroused if, say, the accident took place in your child’s university city, miles away from your home.
Insurers take a dim view of fronting and can come down hard on both you and your child. The company could, for example, refuse to pay for any damage to your car. If there was anyone else involved in the accident, the firm would be legally obliged to pay out any claim successfully brought by a third party, but it could then pursue you to recover the costs.
The insurer could also cancel the policy, leaving the young driver without insurance – and the penalties for driving without insurance can be harsh. An uninsured driver can expect a fine, points on their licence and even a driving ban. They will also pay more for car insurance in the future as previous convictions lead to higher premiums.
In addition, insurers bump up the cost of cover if insurance has ever been refused or cancelled. So, you could be hit with a double whammy.
That’s not all. Fronting is a type of insurance fraud, which means it’s a criminal offence. If you are prosecuted for fraud, you could therefore end up with a criminal record. Of course, no one wants to be branded a criminal, not least because criminals don’t usually find it easy to arrange insurance at any price. They also have difficulty accessing other financial products, including mortgages and credit cards.
Fronting, however well intentioned, is clearly a bad idea with serious consequences. But how do you know if you are guilty of fronting? It’s not always clear who is the main driver, especially if several people use the vehicle.
But you should always be down as the main driver if you regularly drive the car to and from work or university, if you drive the car every day, or if you are responsible for the maintenance of the car. The insurance company should ask pertinent questions on your application form. Staff are also trained to look out for potential fronting types. But if you are in any doubt, ask. It can save a whole lot of time, trouble and cash further down the line.
Talking of saving money, there are other ways to cut the cost of insurance cover for young drivers. Parents can, for example, add themselves as a ‘named’ driver to a child’s policy. This will lower the cost of cover because the insurer will work on the basis that a more experienced driver is behind the wheel for at least part of the time.
Or, you could consider telematics insurance. This is where a GPS-enabled tracker is fitted to the vehicle, allowing the insurer to monitor when, where and how it is driven. The system sounds a bit sinister but can often bring down the cost of cover, especially if the driver demonstrates sensible driving skills and agrees to avoid driving at riskier times.
Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.