a simple guide to getting it right when buying insurance
Yes there are 40 Questions excluding email and phone numbers, but if you add drivers or need to add extra details like claims and/or convictions, the list gets longer. We’re doing the shortened 1 driver squeaky clean policy!
The Question Set
Before I start with this, one rule -
Most comparison sites will give you extra information (when you are on a question), read these to make sure you fully understand what is being asked of you. Some comparison sites require you to click on a Question Mark to see the full details -
15. Marital Status
22. Business Type
35. What cover do you require? -
A simple one you’d think, well mostly, but this should be the name of the vehicle owner and keeper, other than for spouses. If the vehicle is owned by a limited company, do not buy online, it will not allow the ownership to be noted, even if you put the company name in the address line, your policy will be wrong. Similarly, if you need the policy to show a trading as name don’t buy it online, call the insurer/broker.
This should be the address the vehicle is registered to. If you are fortunate enough to own two properties, you will need to be able to enter both postcodes, you may need to speak to the insurer. They will rate on the highest postcode. Those of you going to University living away from home check with the insurer, they might want both postcodes, but some will be okay with just the University or home address depending where the vehicle is kept most.
This is a Yes/No answer, if you work nights it might be best to check as each insurer may have a different take on this, but generally it will be considered where the vehicle is kept when you’re at home and it’s not in use. If you answer NO, it may ask for the alternative postcode, this can be used if you have 2 addresses as mentioned in address above the insurer will rate on whichever is highest, but they will cover you at both addresses!
Yes people do get this wrong, not on purpose, unless you are unscrupulous and trying to lower your insurance price by claiming you’re older -
It might start with “Do you know the vehicle registration number?”. It’s best practice to have this to hand so you can ensure the vehicle details are correct. If you get the wrong model of vehicle it could make your policy invalid. There can be 10 versions of a vehicle model and then with the door numbers, engine size and gearbox type this can extend to 100 versions of a particular model.
If you know the registration number, it will bring through the details from DVLA. Make sure you check the details are correct, incase either you have entered the registration number incorrectly or the DVLA has the vehicle details wrong, which you would need to get corrected with DVLA.
If you do not know the registration number, make sure you get the exact vehicle. Just one small detail could put the vehicle into a different group. This could be something as simple as the number of doors the type of fuel or gearbox etc. On vans, make sure you know the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and carrying capacity as these can make massive differences to the vehicle. Make sure you enter the correct body type as a panel van versus a tipper, could mean the difference between insured and not insured!
Note: A lot of insurers will not cover Q Registered vehicles. They are often Q Plated, because they have been a previous Write Off or the origin of the vehicle is not clear, such as stolen recovered, but no identifying details to show who owned it.
This is a question that can throw up problems. If you have no interest in cars and just want to stick fuel in it to get you from A -
A modification can be a change of wheels, stereo any performance or styling change to the original vehicle. Some things are not an issue, but declare them none the less, then you’ve done your bit and it’s down to the insurer to decide.
If you vehicle is modified, some insurers will not quote on the comparison sites and it may be worth calling insurers for a quote. There are some specialist insurers for modified vehicles who do not quote on comparison sites. Do a web search of “modified vehicle insurers” and try calling some.
This is the current market value of the vehicle i.e. if you were to sell the vehicle today, how much would you sell it for. This is not what a motor trader would sell it for, it is generally considered to be how much you could buy your car for in it’s current condition for.
This is the date you took ownership of the vehicle, not your parent or sibling who owned it before you. Be careful on this as insurers can give massive discounts for length of ownership as their statistics show they pay out more when people first get a vehicle compared with having owned it for some time. The date can be found on the second page of the V5C under “Date Vehicle Acquired On”. Don’t guess, get the document out and check, some insurers and brokers may ask to see a copy of this during the policy year and they will definitely want a copy if your vehicle is beyond economic repair.
Simple enough, do you own the car? Yes or No. If it is under a lease agreement, you may not be the legal owner or on the registration document, check with the insurers. Most insurers are okay with lease vehicles as they are more common place, but you’re best to check.
Normally, the owner of the vehicle is the Registered Keeper and their name will appear on the Registration Document (V5C). Between spouses it doesn’t matter who insures and who is the registered keeper as both people own the vehicle jointly
11. What do you use the car for -
Options usually are:
Private Car and Motorcycles
Social Domestic and Pleasure (this does NOT cover you to drive to/from work)
Social Domestic and Pleasure including Commuting (commuting is any distance to or from work even if you only drive part of the way i.e. to the Train Station, to someone’s house who then drives the remainder of the journey etc.
Class 1 -
Class 2 -
Class 3 -
Commercial Vehicles (Vans)
Carriage of Own Goods
Goods for Hire and Reward -
12. Where is the car parked overnight?
This is not the location, but essentially where is it parked when not in use at the home address, Road, Garage, Driveway. A lot of insurers will consider, car park, private property, private off road parking as Road. Some insurers do not differentiate between any of these, because a driveway is only safer from being hit on the road, but a prospective thief knows which house the keys are in if they can see it on your driveway. So there are different rules of thought from insurers, but it again will be down to their loss ratios as to whether they will give you a discount or not. Don’t put Garaged if you’re not going to religiously put it in there every night, because you can guarantee the night you don’t is the night it gets stolen or vandalised. The insurer could refuse to deal with the claim if you say garaged and don’t garage it.
13. Total Annual Mileage
How many miles are you going to do in the forthcoming year? If you have owned the car for a few years, look on your MOT as it will show the vehicles total miles for each year. This should give you an indication of your annual mileage by taking the latest mileage on the MOT and subtracting the mileage from the year one before. If you know you have some long journeys planned, such as trip to the South of France take this into account over your normal annual mileage. If you have no idea, try to estimate your weekly use and multiply it by 52, it will give you an indicator. Then keep an eye on what you do, note your vehicle’s odometer reading at the start of the week and again at the end of the week, work out the difference and multiply by 52, (or just zero your trip dial on the odometer at the start of the week and see what it’s got to at the end of the week x 52). Don’t forget if you get it wrong, you can always call your insurer to change it at a later date, if you think you’re going to go over what you originally said.
This can be tricky if you’ve never driven before, you can try to work out annual mileage by taking your round trip to work mileage, multiply by number of days a week you work and then multiply by 48 (assuming you get 4 weeks holiday a year), this give you your commuting miles. Add this figure to a weekly amount you’re likely to need for shopping, seeing friends, cinema or any leisure etc to give you a total.
You’re best to over estimate than under, as if you have a claim and you’ve massively gone over the annual miles they could refuse to deal. Normally, if you’re slightly out they will just charge you the difference.
Entering a really low mileage thinking you will get your insurance cheaper can back fire, as most people who do this actually are on the roads more and more likely to have a claim. As such the insurer stats can show they’re paying out more in the lowest mileage group and increase their rates for that mileage group.
14. Do You Regularly drive the car in peak times?
If you commute to work and your answer is probably Yes. Peak hours are around 7:30 am to 9:30 am and 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm. If you don’t use your vehicle in these times answer No. Not all insurers rate on this, but because some do, the question is there.
15. Marital Status
Common Law -
Civil Partnered -
16. UK Resident From?
Okay be careful on this one, this is a question that often has a tick box already selected by default of “Since Birth”, and therefore can often be missed. If Since Birth is correct then leave it ticked (you will have to tick the box on some sites).
This is not a question about Citizenship or what your Passport Shows as your Nationality, or questioning what country you are from. Let’s be clear about this, it is not a Racist question, which is sometimes an accusation that is thrown at insurance professionals. Again, as with all of the questions you are asked, your price is calculated on the insurers statistics, based on claims frequency and severity. Most of these statistics show and prove, that people who have not lived in the UK since birth cost insurers more money in claims, than those that have lived in the UK since birth -
If your parents were in the HM Forces and deployed overseas when you were born, like me, you were born outside of the UK. Put the date you became a UK Resident.
If you were born in the UK and moved abroad then came back, you should calculate how many years you were outside of the UK and amend the date you became UK resident accordingly. I.e. If you were born 01.01.1985 and spent 5 years living abroad, you should put 01.01.1990 to take into account the time you were outside of the UK. However, you might want to check this with the individual insurer, prior to buying your policy, as some may say they want the date you last entered the UK to live here permanently again.
17. Are You a Homeowner?
Yes or No really, you should know this. It doesn’t ask whether you’re a homeowner in the UK, or if you live in the home that you own, but I would suggest answering this based on the address you are entering as the policy address.
Some insurers give a discount for this, don’t put yes just to get a discount, insurers can check with land registry to see if you own a property. The discounts are small.
18. How many children do you have under 16?
Enter the number of children aged under 16 years old. As with the homeowner question it does ask if the children live with you. So just answer it as how many children under 16 that you have. This should include adopted and long-
Some insurers give a discount for this, but not many, don’t make children up, as you may need to prove this in the event of a claims investigation.
19. Total Number of Cars in the Household?
This is not how many cars you own, it is about literally how many cars are there between all of the occupants of your home.
20. Employment Status?
Select the most appropriate to your situation, if it changes during the course of your policy, you should inform your insurer/broker of your new circumstances.
Not in Employment Due to Disability -
House Person (Wife, Husband) -
Independent Means -
Full Time Education -
Not in Full Time Employment -
21. What is your occupation?
Not every job title in the world is listed here, so you need to try and get as close as you can. Don’t get drawn into seeing which one rates more favourably for you by bending the truth, as you may forget to correct it or enter a job that is incorrect for your circumstances. If you are unsure, check with the insurer so they can advise you on what to select. If you are in education, select student, or undergraduate etc, it may also have the option of living at home or living away, select the most appropriate.
22. Business Type
What is your employers business, or what industry do you work in. If you are not working put unemployed or not in employment, whatever is most appropriate to your situation. If you are in education, select University, college etc
23. Any Part-
You can use this to enter a part-
24. What type of licence do you hold?
This one seems to catch out people who have an Automatic Licence as they select UK Full, but they don’t look down the list to the Auto option. Automatic Licence holders are often rated differently to Full UK Licence holders, often a higher rate is charged, so make sure you select the correct option. The options are normally as follows:
UK Full -
EU Full -
EU Provisional -
European Other -
25. How long have you held your licence?
You need to answer this based on the type of licence you have entered. If you originally passed and obtained an Automatic Licence, then you decided to take your Full UK (manual) test, you will be entering the date you passed your Full (Manual) UK Licence, not the Automatic one.
The same goes for International Licence to passing UK test. It’s the date you passed your UK Licence not when you passed in whatever country you may have originally obtained a driving licence.
26. Are you a member of the IAM?
If you are a member answer Yes, otherwise answer No. It doesn’t ask if you are a Class 1 Police driver or that you can drive articulated lorries. It is purely for IAM members only!
There are a couple of insurers who give a discount for people who are members of the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
27. Do you have any medical conditions reportable to DVLA?
You can check what medical conditions need to be advised to the DVLA on their website at https://www.gov.uk/driving-
Insurers are not allowed to refuse insurance or charge more if you have a disability, however, they are allowed to if they can charge more or impose special terms if they can show you are more likely to need to claim.
The options generally are below, make sure you select the correct option:
DVLA aware no restrictions
DVLA aware 1 year Restricted Licence
DVLA aware 2 year Restricted Licence
DVLA aware 3 year Restricted Licence
Doctor Advised not to Drive
28. How many year no claims discount/bonus do you have?
This can make massive differences to what you might pay -
Check your renewal notice from to see what you currently have. If you’ve had a claim since the renewal notice was issued, get a revised renewal notice as it may have changed. Most insurers will want to see evidence of your NCD, so don’t make it up. Just because they don’t ask for it, doesn’t mean they haven’t spoken to your previous insurer.
NCD normally becomes invalid after 2 years have elapsed since you last had insurance. AXA and Aviva sometimes (at the time of writing) accept NCD up to 3 years old, but check with the broker or insurer first. If you enter 5 years and get a 65% discount for it, and subsequently found that it’s not valid or accepted, it will usually more than double your initial premium!
Generally you get a one years no claims discount for each whole year you have an insurance policy without claiming. You can not add 2 x 6 month policies together. You don’t get NCD if you’re a named driver (some insurers will give you a NCD on this basis, but you must insure with that same company). Most insurers don’t allow NCD from different policy types i.e. car to van or taxi to car or driving school to car etc and vice versa. If they do allow it, you might not be able to change it back.
You can not transfer NCD to someone else, except to spouse upon referral to the insurer and then it becomes theirs, you should not get it back.
Company Car bonus is not necessarily accepted by all insurers as NCD. Company cars are normally on a Fleet Insurance basis which is rated differently to Private Car insurance. Check with the provider if they will accept it. If it has been over a couple of months since you had a company car then check tell the provider this too as they may not accept after a certain period.
29. Do you have access to any other vehicle?
Fairly obvious, either you do or you don’t, you should know, so answer accordingly. It’s not to try and necessarily get the renewal date of the other vehicle to harass you about that one. It’s often because you’re not going to use this vehicle as much and they might give a discount for it.
The options are usually:
30. Driving Licence Number?
This is currently voluntary, but it may become mandatory in the future once the insurers and comparison sites become brave enough to make you enter your number. At present they haven’t made it mandatory as they don’t want to scare people off to another site that may not require it.
Some insurers are giving discounts for this as it obtains all of your licence information directly from DVLA, date you passed your test, any endorsements what kind of vehicles you are eligible to drive and if the licence is valid.
In line with the Governments quest to become more digitised they have now made the counterpart licence obsolete with effect from 8th June 2015. As such, insurers and hire car companies etc wanting to know or check if there are any motoring convictions or driving endorsements on your licence, now need to get this information another way. This can usually be done via a DVLA conference call (assuming they’re open) or you may need to go to www.gov.uk/view-
31. Have you or any driver had any accidents or claims in the last 5 years, irrespective of blame or whether a claim was made?
Well a simple enough question, but surprisingly one many people get wrong. Why, well it’s either they can’t remember when it was so don’t enter it, or they think it was over 5 years ago, but don’t check their records, because they can’t be bothered.
My advice, check and include ALL accidents and claims INCLUDING windscreen claims. Why? Because if the insurer rates on it, you get the right rate; if the insurer doesn’t rate on it, it won’t affect your price. There is no conspiracy theory here, it is a computer system that calculates a price based on your answers. These answers determine what the insurer charges and their rules are set already, they won’t change as you enter things. By not entering a claim because you think it’s not relevant is NOT your call to make, but then if you do hide one, what else have you lied about. The insurer may then feel that you information may not be credible and take the moral high ground and void your policy.
You can not plead ignorance on this or say “non-
Also, the comparison sites ask for 5 years not 3, to accommodate those insurers (which is most of them) that rate on claims in the last 5 years, so put them on their and get it right.
NB. If you have an open unsettled claim, you MUST enter it as fault, regardless of whether or not it was actually your fault.
32. Have you or any driver been convicted of any motoring offence in the last 5 years, including fixed penalty offences or been disqualified from driving?
Note the “…in the last 5 years…” part. It doesn’t say 3 years or only ones still showing on your licence, it says “…in the last 5 years…”.
The DVLA can tell you that your motoring convictions are not on your licence after 4 years. Maybe true as you can ask for them to be removed for certain lower convictions, but that does not mean they’re not declarable after 4 years to your insurer. This is due to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 says that Motoring endorsements are declarable for 5 years. It used to be the fine that was what made a motoring conviction declarable for 5 years, but fines were amended to 1 year in the reforms to the RoA 10th Mach 2013. The insurance industry pushed back to say that motoring endorsements needed to be declarable for 5 years and that is what has happened.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act wins in this little battle, so you must declare them. If the insurer doesn’t rate on convictions after 3 years (most do however), then it won’t affect your premium, but as long as you declare any you might have then you’ll get the correct premium from all insurers.
33. Do you have any non-
This is in relation to criminal convictions, it does not only relate to custodial sentences. If the answer to this is Yes, then you had best call the insurer, because most will not quote on the comparison sites. This does not mean they won’t if you call them, it’s just they will want to know exactly what the conviction was, when it was and what the sentence, fine, order or warning was.
Once the insurer or broker has this information they can ask the underwriters, if there needs to be a loading on the premium, special terms imposed or if they want to decline to quote.
Check the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act to see if your conviction is spent or not spent. If it is spent you do not need to volunteer the information. If it is not spent you must declare it.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 was amended from 10th March 2013, see the table below to see whether a conviction needs to be declared or not.
34. Additional drivers
Answer Yes and then complete their details accordingly -
35. What cover do you require? -
There are normally only 3 types of cover you can select:
Third Party, Fire & Theft (TPFT)
Third Party Only (TPO)
If you’re looking at comprehensive, make sure it provides for Windscreen cover and courtesy car etc as some are Limited Comprehensive policies and do not give these benefits.
If you are trying to get your policy as cheap as possible and go for TPO or TPFT, check comprehensive too as sometimes, it can be cheaper. Not all insurers offer TPFT and TPO as it’s not profitable for them, but their Comprehensive rates may be better anyway.
36. When do you want the policy to start?
This is often defaulted to the day you are running your quotes, if your policy is not due for a few days or weeks, make sure you change this so you avoid pay for two lots of insurance.
It can also cause other complications as your NCD, will not be free from the policy still running, therefore, you can’t use it on your new policy. If you claim an NCD on your new policy and are required to show evidence, it’s not going to be possible as it’s still live on your other policy.
Some comparison sites to try and get you to buy from them have a stealth tactic. By defaulting the voluntary excess to £250, it will likely make your premiums look lower than other comparison sites. If you haven’t noticed the voluntary excess being set to this or not amended it, because it was already completed, you might get a lower premium, but you will have a higher excess than yo might want.
38. Do you want to protect your no claims discount (PNCD)?
Before you answer this, you need to understand what protected NCD is. Here’s what it doesn’t do, which is another common mistake:
It doesn’t mean your premium will never go up
It doesn’t mean you will never lose your NCD
It doesn’t mean you don’t need to declare claims you had under a protected NCD policy
It doesn’t mean you can have as many claims as you like and your NCD will be safe
What it does do, is it gives you 2 lives (usually*) to safeguard your NCD. This basically means you can have 2 claims against your policy in a 3 or 5 year period (fault claims -
Let’s say you have not had PNCD before and decide to get PNCD this year, but you have had a non-
If you have PNCD and have a fault claim (see claims explained), at renewal your premium can still increase, because the claim has changed the risk, it will just not go up as much as it might if you didn’t have PNCD
*Some insurer give you 3 lives in a 3 or 5 year period.
39. Has any driver had a policy cancelled, voided or declined or special terms imposed? Non-
Again, most insurers take the moral high ground and will not insure you if you’ve had a policy cancelled due to these circumstances. You can understand their unwillingness because you have previously had a policy cancelled, because you have tried to defraud an insurer or not followed their policy rules.
There will be some insurers that will accept your risk (at a higher than normal premium of course), but you will normally need to refer the circumstances surrounding the misdemeanour to your would be insurer before you try and buy the policy online.
40. How do you want to pay Monthly / Annually?
Why is this relevant. It can vary between brokers and insurers alike. Some might give a discount if you’re paying by monthly instalment, this will make their premium seem more attractive as an annual figure, but they will then claw that back by charging a higher APR on the instalments. Look at the total payable figures to see if you’re better off over the whole year rather than the headline annual “cash” premium.
Other insurers take into account your credit status, as it maybe that their stats show people who pay monthly are less “reliable” than those who pay annually. This can mean your less likely to report a claim or may not report it immediately, which can costs insurers thousands of pounds extra on a claim if the Third Party is claiming a hire vehicle. Without your side of the events of a claim, they’re unable to discuss liability with the Third Party insurer thus delaying any settlements.
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Motor Insurance Proposal Form Questionnaire -