When it comes to car insurance you need to know the facts from the fiction or you could find yourself overpaying, or worse — without the cover you are required to have by law. Read on to find out the truth behind 10 common car insurance myths.
The truth: While it might seem logical that a lower level of cover would cost less, this is often not the case. Drivers who opt for a lower level of cover tend to make more claims, which has driven up the cost of these policies.
For many drivers, comprehensive cover can cost the same or even less than third party only or third party, fire and theft cover — with the added bonus that your own vehicle will be covered for damage. You can read more about this in our guide.
The truth: In an ideal world this would be the case — after all, you’re building up a no claims bonus every year you don’t claim. However, there are many external factors at play that affect the cost of insurance, including:
most insurers have a maximum no claims bonus, so you’ll stop building a discount after a set amount of years
insurers will take your age into account, so once you reach a certain age you will be considered a higher risk and might see your premiums rise
your premium will change if you make certain adjustments to your policy, such as changing your job or address
The truth: Many people think paying extra to protect their no claims bonus will prevent their premium from increasing if they make a claim. But like many things relating to insurance, it’s not that simple.
While you won’t lose your no claims bonus if you make a claim and you’ve paid to protect it, your premium could still rise as your insurer might consider you a higher risk. As your no claims bonus is a discount applied to the premium, what you pay at renewal might still go up.
Also, there’s a limit to the protection offered - if you make more than one claim in a year, you might find your insurer removes a year or two’s bonus (but you’ll likely still be better off than if you had no protection and lost your whole discount).
The truth: If you make a claim that wasn't your fault, such as if a third party crashed into you at traffic lights, your insurer will usually waive your excess if it can prove you weren't to blame, and it's able to claim its costs back from the third party.
However, you'll be responsible for paying your excess upfront even if you're later entitled to a refund, so make sure you select a policy with an excess you can afford.
The truth: It’s a misconception that comprehensive cover automatically covers you for third party liability when driving someone else’s car. Yes, this used to be a standard feature of comprehensive policies, but it’s far less common now.
For this reason, it’s important to check your documents rather than assuming you can drive another car. Look out for ‘driving other cars’ (DOC) cover in your policy.
Also, bear in mind that even if you have DOC included you will only be covered for third party liability, so you won’t be covered for any damage to the car you’re borrowing.
The truth: Many parents want to help their children out financially, and might consider taking out insurance in their name or putting themselves as the main driver to cut the cost of their child’s insurance policy.
But while it might seem harmless, putting insurance in someone else’s name to get cheaper cover is known as fronting. It is illegal and has serious consequences, including penalty points, disqualification, and fines of up to £5,000 if the case reaches the courts.
The truth: Most black box or telematics policies no longer have set curfews. While this was a feature in most early black box policies, insurers have moved on and most now base premiums on driving behaviour such as mileage, speed, braking and accelerating.
While driving at night may affect your driving score on some policies, there are now very few black box policies that restrict the times of day you can drive.
Night driving is far from the only misconception about black box policies — in fact, we’ve rounded up some myths specifically about the technology here.
The truth: Since Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) came into effect in the UK in 2011, all cars must be insured unless they have been declared off-road with a Statutory Off Road Notification, known as a SORN.
You can only SORN a car if it’s kept off the road on private property — for example on a drive or in a garage. If it’s kept on a road but never used, you must still have valid car insurance.
The truth: While it might seem sensible to spread the cost of insurance with monthly payments, it almost always costs more in the long-run.
Most insurers will charge an upfront deposit as well as interest, making your premium cost much more over the year. While it can be difficult to find money for a year’s cover upfront, paying in one go usually works out much cheaper.
Our guide to annual and monthly payments explains more.
The truth: There are no prizes for staying loyal when it comes to car insurance, as you can often find a cheaper deal by shopping around. While you might be tempted by the convenience of letting your insurance policy renew, it could be costing you dearly.