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Parking and car insurance – the six questions you need to ask

Find out where to park for cheaper car insurance, and why a garage is not always your best bet

Car MOT: How to check MOT history and get reminders

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How your parking habits affect your car insurance

There are several factors that affect the cost of your car insurance, many of which you can’t control. Thankfully, one thing you can control is where the vehicle is kept.

Unfortunately, the differences between your chosen parking spots are not as simple as they may seem.

You may assume that parking your car in a garage would give you the lowest premiums — after all, isn’t your car safest in a locked garage? You might then also assume that your car is safer on your driveway than it would be parked on a public road, where it could be hit by a careless driver.

Road, driveway or garage?

There are several factors that affect the cost of your car insurance, many of which you can’t control. Thankfully, one thing you can control is where the vehicle is kept. 

One: are all parking spots created equal?

Unfortunately, the differences between your chosen parking spots are not as simple as they may seem.

Private driveway parking versus garage parking

You may assume that parking your car in a garage would give you the lowest premiums and that your car is safer on your driveway than it would be parked on a public road, where it could be hit by a careless driver

But this is not always the case. Among other things, drivers pranging their cars when parking in their own garages have put paid to that guaranteed discount.

Two: what is residential parking?

Residential parking schemes or controlled parking zones are permit schemes run by local councils.

They allow authorised drivers to park vehicles in streets with a Resident Parking Scheme (RPS) or Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) marked by parking bays and signs.

  • only residents are allowed a permit which they will have to pay for

  • if you live in an area with a parking permit scheme you won’t necessarily pay cheaper car insurance

Three: is private driveway parking cheaper?

Most drivers, understandably, assume it is more expensive to park a car outdoors, even if it is in a private driveway.

For example using a car insurance comparison tool you can see how much a 1.4l 2010 Ford Fiesta owner living in a rural area in the South West of England would pay, depending on where they parked.

The driver is a 30-year-old female admin assistant who has been driving for 5 years with no previous claims or convictions. 

Her annual premiums depending on where she parked - using the comparison tool - were:

  • road: £289.18 

  • driveway: £276.76 

  • garage: £291.22

So, parking your car in a garage does not always guarantee cheaper insurance.

Four: why might private driveway parking be cheaper? 

Insurers’ ratings are based on claims data, and due to the amount of accidents that occur while parking in garages they are seen as a riskier parking spot than on the road. 

This is because:

  • many garages in older houses are designed for the smaller cars that were popular decades ago, and can be too small for modern cars

  • insurers may also take into account the fact that burglars have instant access to garaged cars once they’ve broken into a house, which might be a particular risk factor in areas with high numbers of burglaries.

But insurers’ rating factors vary wildly, so while one insurer may prefer to insure garaged cars, another may decide that a car on the road is safer based on their existing and previous customers’ claims histories. 

  • if you live in a high crime or busy area such as a city, the risk of parking in a garage might be lower than the risk of the car being damaged while parked on the road.

  • you have the option of parking your car in a garage, on a driveway or on the road, it might pay to compare car insurance costs before buying or renewing a policy

What is private driveway parking?

If you have a driveway then it is effectively private land, but a strange legal loophole means anyone can park on your driveway - and there's not much you can do about it.

The Sun newspaper reported (January 2020) how there had been a number of cases in the UK where homeowners have been stuck with a stranger's car on their driveway, only to be told neither police nor local authorities have the power to move it.

This is because the line between criminal and civil law is blurred.

“Councils are required to remove abandoned cars from both public and private property, but if the motor in question is taxed, insured, has a valid MOT and isn't in a dangerous condition, they are unlikely to touch it on private land.”

Five: can I park my car on the road without insurance?

You can’t park your car on a public highway, road, without insurance but you can park your car in a private driveway without paying insurance.

First you will have had to declare your car off the road by filling in a SORN or statutory off road notification.

If your car is SORNed and kept off the road, it doesn’t need to be taxed or insured.

As it’s free to SORN your vehicle, a SORN could save you money on tax and insurance for periods your car’s not being used. 

To SORN your car online, go to the gov.uk website. You will need:

  • your vehicle registration document (V5C) 

  • the 16-digit number from your tax renewal reminder

Six: do I need to tell my car insurance company where I park my car?

Although you may be able to save money on your car insurance by changing where you park, you must always be honest with your insurer – don’t be tempted to say you park your car on a driveway when it’s actually kept on the road. 

  • if you’re caught being dishonest, your insurer could invalidate your insurance and reduce the pay out on any claims

  • insurers can even check on Google Street View to see if your home has a driveway or garage!

The general rule with car insurance is the safer you can keep your car, the cheaper it is to insure. And no matter where your car is parked, it needs to be covered by an insurance policy. 

How to get cheaper car insurance

You may be able to save a little money by parking your car just a few streets away from your front door — if your road is considered as high risk by insurers (such as a main road or one where lots of thefts have been reported), the effort of parking in a quieter residential road might just pay off.

If you can’t manage to park your car on a private driveway or in a garage there are other things you can do to reduce your car insurance premiums.

Be older and more experienced

Experienced drivers and have a good driving record can still get a good deal on their insurance.

If you are not an experienced driver you can cut car insurance costs by adding a named driver who is older and more experienced to the policy. 

The type of car you drive

Having a car with is the type of car you drive, with the car’s speed, security features, and value all playing a big part in increasing the cost of your insurance.

Increase your voluntary excess 

This will result in a cheaper monthly premium. Before you take out car insurance make sure you can afford any voluntary excess. This excess is in addition to the compulsory excess set by your insurance provider. This is what you would have to pay if you ever have to claim. Pay upfront 

Pay for your insurance in one go if you can. Spreading the cost of your car insurance over 12 payments, monthly, may seem cheaper but remember you will be paying interest on top of the amount you pay towards your car insurance premium.    Drive less

Limiting your miles makes you less of an insurance risk. Simply because you are reducing your risk of having an accident. When you take out your car insurance policy the insurer always asks for an estimate of your maximum annual mileage. You need to try and keep your mileage low but be realistic.

Extra security

Having an alarm or immobiliser is considered a theft deterrent and by deterring car thieves you can reduce your car insurance. Not all insurers will offer this, so check first.

Consider black box or telematics insurance 

Black box, or telematics, insurance can help reduce your car insurance over a period of time. 

A small device, the black box is installed in your car. 

  • this then measures how fast you driver, when you brake, what time of day you drive how fast you accelerate and how you drive around corners

  • some black boxes include an app which you can access on your phone

  • if you drive safely you may be rewarded with cheaper monthly premiums

Don’t own a car

You don’t need to own a car to get car insurance. Unlike a full car insurance policy, you won’t build up a no claims bonus, but it does mean you can drive someone else’s car, as long as you have their permission. If you are only planning on borrowing a car you can also compare quotes for short-term or temporary car insurance.

Consider taking out a multi-car insurance policy

You might want to search multi-car insurance policies to see if you can save money on your car insurance. Multi-car insurance might be suitable:

  • if you own more than one car

  • if you’re a family with more than one driver

  • if you’re a couple with more than one vehicle

Get a car insurance quote

See a range of car insurance quotes in just a few minutes when you compare with Uswitch