a simple guide to getting it right when buying insurance
In a word, No. You must have insurance to drive on the roads and public places in the UK under the RTA -
The short answer is, that it’s based on the frequency and severity of claims, but of course it is far more complex than that.
When I started out in insurance (about 25 years ago) there were 9 vehicle groupings, about 20 postcode rating areas and 4 occupation groups and we calculated the premiums manually out of a paper guide; And we had to do this for each insurer, we as a brokers dealt with, so you needed to know your markets, who was good for whom. Well, computers have certainly changed the insurance industry for brokers and insurers alike. The insurers can look at all of the data, for all of their claims to help them know what group or groups of people costs them more money. As a result they know where to increase their rates or where they might be able to offer more discounts. If for example , Vets are costing insurers more than Doctors then the insurer is going to charge more for Vets than they do for Doctors (remember this is an example, I don’t want a stream of Ketamine syringe wielding Vets lining up at my door telling me they’re a good driver and they’ve never claimed!) -
“I don’t drive to work, so why does it matter?” I hear you cry! A good question, but the insurers statistics are facts and proof of what they have paid out in claims. Hence why one insurer may be different in price for our Vets than another insurer. Lets say Insurer A has paid out more in claims than Insurer B when a Vet has claimed (not necessarily driving incidents, don’t forget; Thefts, Attempted Thefts, Vandalism, Malicious Damage, Storm Damage etc), Insurer A is going to charge Vets more than Insurer B. It is basic -
The data from that claim will be collated with all the other claims data and this drives what an insurer charges. If a particular group of vehicles, postcodes, UK Residency dates, occupations, annual mileage, length licence held, age etc costs an insurer more they will put up their price for that particular group. You may have seen on the news a high profile person complaining that insurance is ageist because she was a more (shall we say, very carefully) mature lady. Fact is some insurers stop quoting after you’ve hit 70 as their statistics go off the scale, so to protect themselves they will not quote for that age group. Is an insurer Racist because they charge more for someone who’s not lived in the UK since birth? Seriously? No, they’re neither, it all comes down to statistics and those statistics show that people over 65 or those not resident in the UK since birth costs the insurer more money in claims. I was born outside of the UK, because my father was in the HM Forces at the time, so I didn’t become a UK resident until I was 11 years old. Although I was (and still am) a UK Citizen, my UK residency date is different to my date of birth. Therefore, I will pay more on my insurance than an identical me who has been a UK resident all of their life.
Actually, there are more possible combinations in calculating your insurance premium, than the number of people on this planet. Sounds far fetched? Well, you think about every question you answer when applying for your insurance (whether you think it is relevant or not), has a bearing on what an insurer will charge. Apart from your name and gender, your answers will change your price. Think about the combinations of just every possible date of birth from a 17 year old, then add in every postcode in the UK, then every version of every model of every car ever made! And that’s just three questions out of about forty standard questions, but excluding any additional drivers details or any extra information if you answered yes to claims or conviction history. So imagine all the possibilities and combinations of all the answers that you give and it amounts to about 3 Trillion different possible combinations.
Okay, so actually a lot of the answers will be rated the same, such as there are around 99 vehicle groupings -
No it’s not and this is one that often catches people out. Quite often, especially if your insurance is through a broker/intermediary, you will actually be paying back a loan. Your direct debit is probably paying a finance with interest on that loan.
Here’s an example below for you to see what the implications there might be if you (or your insurer) cancels your policy early. Lets say you’re insured through “MySuperCheap Insurance Brokers” and your insurer is “ReasonablyPriced Insurance Company”, this could be a summary of your insurance should you pay by direct debit and cancel your policy after 2 months (assuming a pro-
TOTAL ANNUAL CHARGES = £450
Broken down as:
ReasonablyPriced Insurance Company Premium £300 Including IPT
MySuperCheap Insurance Brokers Set Up Fee £15 (non-
Breakdown Cover £65 (no refund after 14 days on cover)
Legal Expenses Cover £20 (no refund after 14 days on cover)
Direct Debit Interest £50 (APR XX%)
TOTAL CHARGES FOR 2 MONTHS COVER = £192.53
Broken down as:
ReasonablyPriced Insurance Company £300 / 365 x 60 = £49.32 (TOR -
Breakdown Cover £65 (no refund after 14 days on cover) = £65
Legal Expenses Cover £20 (no refund after 14 days on cover) = £20
Direct Debit Interest £50 / 365 x 60 = £8.22
MySuperCheap Insurance Brokers Cancellation Fee = £50
YOU HAVE PAID TO DATE = £130.00
Deposit £50 and 2 x instalments (out of 10) of £40.00 ea.
Total Paid £130.00 -
You owe MySuperCheap Insurance Brokers £62.54!!!!!
As you can see, it’s definitely not Pay-
Also, if you have a Fault or Open claim on your policy, there will be NO REFUND. In the example above you will still owe £278.22, on the basis they don’t charge the full annual interest. If they do then you would owe £320.00.
NO, basically. If that was the case then we could all effectively have free insurance, by cancelling and setting up new policies every 14 days. During the cooling off period, you can cancel with giving any reason and will only be charged for the number of days cover you’ve had. You can still be charged a cancellation fee and any set up fee doesn’t have to be refunded, but usually any additional products such as breakdown cover will either be charged pro-
This is why so many people come unstuck when they cancel a policy, because they haven’t actually checked the T’s & C’s, they just look at the price and the cover. I get it, it’s dull, who wants to read all that guff? Have you ever read an end user licence or agreement, when you agreed to the T’s & C’s on a computer programme or App and confirmed you’d read them? Really? Ever time?
First, let me explain why fees are charged, you probably think it’s just to make money, well it is, but when you buy your policy through Go Compare, Money Supermarket, Compare The Market etc, they probably make a loss!
Fees are normally charged by brokers and some insurers, these cover their administrative and operational costs. It’s not just the cost of pushing some buttons by a call centre agent. There will be infrastructure costs, IT Equipment and possibly an IT Department for larger brokers, a claims department (insurers can’t claim any of their costs for dealing with your claim back from a Third Party, this could be hundreds of people), wages, advertising, FCA costs, Accounting costs, Compliance department, marketing department, fraud department, HR Department and Comparison Site costs. All of these non-
Consider this; You might pay £300 for your insurance, but take off IPT (9.5% from 1st November 2015) this leaves £271.50 that the broker can then get commission on. The commission could be as low as 2.5%, but normally it’s 5 -
There is no real rules to what a broker can charge other than they need to be reasonable and the broker or insurer may be required to prove to the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) how they justify their fees. Generally you should expect anything as follows:
Set Up Fee Up to £35
Renewal Up to £35
Cancellation Up to £50
Fees are not normally refundable if you cancel -
Some insurers or brokers may also keep their commission if you cancel, this could amount to 10 -
If you don’t want to get stung when you’re going to make a change or cancel, check the insurers and brokers cancellation and adjustment terms fees BEFORE you buy the policy!
Optional extras are “Bolt-
This is one that people often don’t realise, but it kind of makes sense when you think about it. Why would your insurer something that doesn't belong to you? Because you’re trying to get your child's car insurance cheaper by insuring it in your name to try and use your no claims discount? Two things wrong with this, firstly you are probably using your NCD on your own car, therefore you can’t use it anyway as it’s still being used. Secondly, insuring your child’s vehicle in your name is called “Fronting” and you are committing insurance fraud if you do this -
If however, you are married (officially -
The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that you cannot use a motor vehicle on UK roads and in public places without adequate Third Party insurance cover. This must cover damage or injury to any person, vehicle, animal or property. It will no provide cover for your own vehicle if you’re deemed at fault.
The Continuous Insurance Enforcement law states that a vehicle must be insured even if it’s off the road, unless it has been declared SORN (Statutory Off Road Notice) with the DVLA. If you don’t insure it or declare it SORN, you could face a fine of £100, the vehicle wheel clamped, impounded or destroyed. If you vehicle is impounded, a lot of insurers take the moral high ground on this and state on their certificates of insurance, cover is not provided for release from a Police impound. As you will need insurance to get your vehicle out of the impound, this can limit who will offer you insurance. You could also face a court prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000. Even if you were not the person driving the vehicle, if you’re the registered keeper, you can still be prosecuted or fined.
Question: “My car is SORN does it need insurance?” -
Motor Traders do not have to declare vehicles as SORN, providing they have registered them as “in trade” with DVLA.
The vehicle must have valid insurance and current MOT (if applicable -
You no longer have to display a Tax disc in or on your vehicle since 1st September 2014 again, because the Police or other authorities can check if your vehicle has these digitally.
Most insurers have a clause in their policy wording that states your policy could be void if the vehicle doesn’t have a current MOT certificate. If you had an accident and it was your fault, your insurer would have to deal with any Third Party claims under the RTA (Road Traffic Act), but they will not deal with your damages. Also, they could look to recover any costs they have made to a Third Party, which could include damage to their vehicle, property, personal injury, loss of earnings, medical treatment at the scene and ongoing medical costs. These costs could if you caused a serious collision run into tens of thousands, even millions of pounds in extreme cases. This could mean you losing your home to pay for the damages or even facing a custodial sentence.
Providing your vehicle has a current motor insurance policy and you have pre-
There are about 6 levels of cover you can get for motor insurance, but the three main ones we are mostly familiar with are Comprehensive, Third Party Fire and Theft and Third Party Only. A lot of people refer to Comprehensive as Fully Comprehensive, but this term is a little outdated, because it makes people think they are covered for any eventuality insurers don’t like to use the word Fully as it may give a false impression. You will not be covered for example if your vehicle is stolen and the keys are either in or on the vehicle at the time of loss.
Levels of cover in ascending order of cover provided
Laid Up Cover
Provides cover for a vehicle that has been taken off the road, maybe for restoration, mechanical or body work repairs. This will provide cover whilst the vehicle is “laid up”. Normally restricted to Fire and Theft cover only, for vehicles that have been declared SORN with DVLA (see -
Road Traffic Act (RTA)
Provide cover (indemnity) For bodily injury or death to a Third Party -
Third Party Only (TPO)
Provides the same as RTA cover, but provides indemnity to passengers travelling in or on (motorcycles) your vehicle. May not give Driving Other Cars cover, but check the Certificate of Insurance as it will be stated on here if it is provided.
Third Party Fire & Theft (TPF&T)
Provides the same cover as TPO, but also provides for damage or loss caused by Fire or Theft/Attempted Theft. Surprisingly it’s not always the cheapest option, often Comprehensive cover is cheaper as the loss ratios for some insurers tend to be higher on TPF&T than on Comp. It makes sense when you think about it, because if you care about your vehicle, you’ll probably buy Comp cover and be more careful when driving your vehicle. If you buy TPF&T cover, likelihood is that you’re not that bothered about you vehicle (as it may be low value) and as a result you’re less likely to take care of it, i.e. drive it carefully! May not give Driving Other Cars cover, but check the Certificate of Insurance as it will be stated on here if it is provided.
Limited Comprehensive Cover (limited Comp)
A no frills comprehensive policy, provides the same cover as TPF&T, with the inclusion of own damage cover to your vehicle. Often there will be no Personal Accident cover, Windscreen/Glass cover and no Courtesy Car provided in the event of a fault (repairable) claim, usually no Driving Other Cars cover either. There is often not a great saving to be had versus Comprehensive cover, but If your premiums are £1000+ the savings might be worth considering.
Comprehensive Cover (Comp)
This is the cover that most people go for as they want to protect their asset and want the extra benefits that Comp cover provides, such as Personal Accident cover, Courtesy Car (for repairable claims), increased Medical Expenses cover, often Increased ICE (In Car Entertainment -
Buying Car Insurance is that time of year we don’t really look forward to as consumers, you’re probably sick of TV adverts for insurance and comparison sites, with their free toys or trying to serenade you for your custom. Well, we have to have it, so let’s do it right.
What do you need to know? Here are a few questions to get you started, but check out the other areas of the site, there’s useful information to help you make sure you buy it properly and drive safely, plus keeping your vehicle secure.
Uses Available for Private Car Insurances
Social, Domestic and Pleasure (does not cover you to drive to or form work) -
This covers you for your everyday use, such as going to the shops or doctors etc (Domestic), visiting friends or going to a restaurant (Social) and also, just going for a drive or on holiday (pleasure)
If you drive to the train station and then get a train for the rest of your commute to work, you will need commuting use, as it is part of your “commute” to and from work.
Social, Domestic and Pleasure including Commuting (SDP&C)
As SDP Only, but covers you to drive to and from one permanent place of work. If you have to go to different places of work or need to go out to meetings or on a training course away form your normal place of work, such as a Doctor or Nurse may need to go to different Hospitals, you will need Class 1 cover. If you are a cleaner and go to various houses, offices etc you will need Class 1 use
If you have 2 jobs, check with your insurer to see if they need you to have Class 1 use or you can still have SDP&c.
Class 1 Personal Business Use
This covers the Policyholder (the policyholder may not be the main driver, so be aware it is the name the policy is in) to have the same as SDP&C, but also to travel to various places of work in connection with their job, such as a Midwife or Home Help, or even a Sales Rep who needs to go to various pre-
Also provides cover for carrying samples, although the samples themselves will not be covered usually.
Some insurers provide Joint Class 1 for both spouses on a policy, or Transferred Class 1 where the policyholder may not need the business use, but the 2nd driver does and they’re not a spouse (i.e. common law partner, sibling, parent etc) they can get the Class 1 use, without having to increase to Class 2 use.
Excludes delivering of any kind -
Class 2 Business Use
As per Class 1, but provides business use for all drivers on the policy. Some insurers require all drivers to be in the same occupation, so check with the provider first.
Excludes delivering of any kind -
Class 3 Commercial Travelling
As per Class 2, but covers you for cold calling (door-
Uses Available for Commercial Vehicle Insurances
Not usually available on Private Car policies, usually only on commercial vehicle policies.
Infrequent use for ferrying passengers, such as special occasions, weddings, events etc. Not for general private Hire or Taxi use, most insurers will expect a certain type of vehicle i.e. luxury car, executive car or MPV, such as larger Mercedes S300, S500, or BMW 7 Series, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Maybach or limousines, that kind of marque of vehicle.
Use for the professional tuition of learner drivers, also for refresher courses for drivers who may have a licence already, but have not driven in years and want a re-
Provides cover for Private Hire operators. The policyholder will require the relevant Private Hire Licence and Vehicle Licence to be able to buy this kind of insurance. You will have to provide copies of your Driving Licence, Private Hire Licence and Vehicle Licence often along with a copy of a valid MOT certificate. Don’t have your counterpart anymore, you will have to provide a code from DVLA to share your licence or do a DVLA conference call with the insurer and DVLA to confirm your licence details. Cover provided to ferry passengers for reward on pre-
Sometimes a copy V5C (vehicle registration document/logbook) may be required.
Public Hire -
Cover for Hire and Reward. As per Private Hire apart from they can be flagged down and can sit on Taxi ranks. Again relevant copy licences and operator licences will be required along with copy MOT. Sometimes a copy V5C (vehicle registration document/logbook) may be required. Also known as Hackney Carriage insurance.
Carriage of Own Goods
Usually van insurance cover, provides cover for SDP, business use and carriage of own goods, such as building equipment etc for builders, plumbers etc. If you are delivering flowers or fast food etc, check with the providers if you will be covered for this
Usually separated into light and heavy, light is for vehicles between 3.5 and 7.5 GWT vehicles and heavy is for over this. Normally this kind of cover will be on a fleet basis if operating 5+ vehicles. May not provide SDP cover, as always check with the providers.
No, basically, since the introduction of the The Motor Vehicles (Electronic Communication of Certificates of Insurance) Order 2010 came into effect on 30th April 2010, it has not been necessary to carry your certificate of motor insurance. The Police will check with the MID (Motor Insurance Database) to see if your vehicle is insured. However, it can take up to 7 days to be updated, therefore if you have just purchased the vehicle or your renewal has just happen (even if you’re with the same insurer), it may not show as current on the MID. If you tell the nice Officer that you have just purchased or renewed, they may advise they want to see proof and issue you with a “producer” to show said documents at a Police Station within the next 7 days.
They often will call your insurer on the spot to confirm if you have current valid insurance, you just need to hope they’re open or your vehicle could be impounded until proven. Our advice for those of you with smart phones to keep a copy of the document on your phone or keep the email with your documents easily accessible.
So, you can just keep an electronic copy of the certificate as it is not very often that this is required to be seen.
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