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

Kasey Cassells
Written by Kasey Cassells, Senior content editor

Edited by Dan Moore, Finance Writer, 8 December 2021

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

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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.

Where you park and the cost of your car insurance

You may assume that parking your car in a garage, presuming you have access to one, would give you the lowest premiums — after all, isn’t your car safest in a locked garage? 

You might also assume your car is safer on your driveway, if you have one, than it would be parked on a public road, where it could be hit by a careless driver. But this isn’t always the case. 

Likewise, thieves are not averse to slipping onto your driveway and jemmying open a car door under cover of dark to get at your audio system. Conversely, parking under a streetlight might deter the crooks. 

1. Do you park in a garage?

Most drivers, understandably, assume it’s more expensive to park a car outdoors, even if it’s on a private driveway.

For example, we ran a car insurance search to 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 in question was a 30-year-old female admin assistant who has been driving for five years with no previous claims or convictions. 

Her annual premiums depending on where she parked - using Uswitch - were:

  • Road: £289.18 

  • Driveway: £276.76 

  • Garage: £291.22

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

Insurers’ ratings are based on claims data, and due to the number 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 were 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 break ins

  • Cars are bigger nowadays and getting into and out of a garage can be quite a squeeze and scraping the wing on a wall or dislodging a paint pot from a shelf above the car could lead to claims

2. Do you park in a private driveway? 

With so many vehicles on our roads, it’s fairly clear why homes that have driveways are so popular. A car is far less likely to get hit while tucked away on a private drive. But, if that driveway is hidden by shrubbery and shrouded in shadows, it’s also a haven for car thieves who can jemmy open the door under cover of night, leading to claims.

3. Do you park in a residential parking zone?

Residential parking schemes are permit schemes run by local councils.

They allow authorised drivers to park vehicles in streets, which may be marked by parking bays  or signs, frequently attached to standalone posts or lampposts.

Only residents are allowed a permit which they will have to pay for. If you have a permit and park in a designated bay on the road you are still classed as parking on the street, even if the bay covers part of the pavement. 

If you live in an area with a parking permit scheme you won’t necessarily pay cheaper car insurance. For this reason, always re-run quotes for parking on the drive – if you have access to one.

4. What if your parking area varies?

Some people alternate where they park, such as if they live in flats with limited residential parking, which means they sometimes need to park on the road. The rule of thumb here is to select the place where you park most often. If this isn’t clear, contact your insurer for their advice. 

If you have a routine that sees where you park vary, such as park at work in the day and on your drive at night, you can also speak to your insurer, but in most cases the answer will be to put where you park at home.

5. Can you park without car insurance?

You can’t park your car on a public highway, a public or secure car park or in a parking bay without insurance but you can park your car on a private driveway without paying insurance, providing you have followed the rules.

To satisfy the authorities, you’ll have had to declare your car off the road by filling in a SORN or Statutory Off Road Notification.

If your car has a SORN and is kept on your property, it doesn’t need to be taxed or insured. 

But you can’t move it between properties you own, pop it onto the street for a short spell, such as if you are having a skip delivered, or park it on an unadopted road. In short, it needs to stay put on your property.

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

6. Where is the best place to park my car?

This may sound like a cop out, but where’s best for you to park will ultimately depend on where you live. 

If you have a large-enough garage, a drive and you can park on the road, you have choices, so use them. Get a car insurance quote based on all three parking options and select whichever is best. 

Only don’t forget to run the same checks each time you need a new policy, as insurers may have re-evaluated their risk profile for your area, and your current parking preference may no longer be best.  

Of course, if you don’t have a garage or a drive, you may think the decision is made for you. However, you still have choices. 

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). 

If you work close to your place of work, and it has a car park, you could park here, providing you have permission from your boss.

7. Does my insurance company need to know where I park?

Although you may be able to save money on your car insurance by changing where you park, 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.

Don’t forget, insurers can check on Google Street View to see if your home has a driveway or garage. If they suspect foul play they could well do.

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, however temporarily, it needs to be covered by an insurance policy. 

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