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Parents risk criminal record to save cash on motoring

·4 min read
‘Fronting’ may keep costs down – but it is insurance fraud (PA)
‘Fronting’ may keep costs down – but it is insurance fraud (PA)

A quarter of parents are courting a criminal record by “fronting” their children’s insurance in a bid to keep costs down, new data has revealed, as price trumps safety for the biggest concern for families of new drivers.

Fronting is when an older or more experienced driver – usually a parent – claims that they’re the main user of a car that is mostly driven by a young person, or other high-risk motorists, to reduce the cost of car insurance.

Research for GoCompare surveyed more than 1,000 parents of children aged between 17 and 25 who were either learning to drive or were young drivers. When asked about their child’s car insurance, almost one in four said that the insurance for their child’s car was in their – or their partner’s – name and the child was named as an additional driver.  

The numbers are up significantly from the one in 10 parents who admitted to fronting in 2019.

More than half of all parents across the UK said that they’d consider putting themselves as the main driver to save money on a car insurance policy.  

However, the practice is technically insurance fraud and therefore illegal.    

“Unfortunately, parents are often unaware that fronting is insurance fraud and therefore illegal, so they could end up with a policy that’s null and void, as well as a criminal record,” warns Ryan Fulthorpe, motoring specialist at GoCompare.   

“Fronted policies are often discovered during the claims process when the insurance company will look at the details of an accident. If they find that the main driver wasn’t the policyholder, then it can mean that the parent is liable for the costs of that accident, as the insurer will try to recoup any third-party costs that it has paid out.

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The average cost of a car insurance policy for a 17- to 19-year-old is £871.94, almost double the £450 typically paid by the average motorist. That’s largely because their inexperience, often coupled with overconfidence, makes them far more likely to be involved in an accident than motorists over the age of 25.

Figures collected by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) from its members show that while drivers aged 17-24 account for only 7 per cent of the total number of drivers on UK roads, they are involved in 24 per cent of all fatal collisions.

However, there are plenty of ways to legally reduce the cost of premiums, even for young drivers, the ABI suggests, and it’s not all about shopping around. 

The car itself is key. 

All cars are classified into insurance groups. In general, the bigger the engine size, the higher the insurance cost because the more powerful a car is, the more likely it is to be involved in an accident. The value of your car will also affect your premium – if it’s more expensive to replace or repair, the premium is likely to increase. 

Modifications are often problematic, so avoid changes to your car that aren’t safety related. Extra security features can help reduce premiums though, such as immobilisers or keeping your car in a garage or car park.

Proving yourself as a responsible driver will help too. Building up a no-claims discount will help keep a lid on future premiums, as will telematics or a black box that tracks your driving, including braking habits and top speeds. 

Avoid penalty points on your license at all costs, imposed for dangerous actions like excess speed, driving under the influence and driving while using a mobile phone.

If you really are the world’s best, safest driver despite having been behind the wheel for such a short time, then setting a higher excess is another option. This is the fixed amount you’ll pay towards reparations if you have to make a claim before the insurer will cover any outstanding costs.

Young drivers often have a higher compulsory excess anyway, but adding a voluntary extra will put downward pressure on your premiums.

“Never lie,” the ABI warns. “Even just making a few ‘tweaks’, such as saying your car is kept on a driveway when it is actually kept on the road, can be considered insurance fraud.  

“If you lie to your insurer, you risk invalidating your insurance and a criminal prosecution – and as a proven fraudster, you may struggle to get cheap insurance in the future.”

 Finally, the old advice about shopping around will still make a huge difference. The motor insurance industry is incredibly competitive, which is only a good thing for policyholders – even young ones.

As well as the usual price comparison sites, ensure you get a range of quotes from providers which don’t pay to be listed by these aggregators and therefore only offer their products directly. An insurance broker can also be worth their weight in gold, especially if your circumstances don’t fit the typical boxes – such as your job or how you’ll use the car. 

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