Common myths about car insurance debunked

common car insurance myths debunked

November 4, 2015

People have a habit of talking a lot of rubbish sometimes. It’s just a human condition. Someone usually says one thing (which possibly contains an element of truth), then conveys the fact/story to someone else, who in turn regales another individual of the tale which originated from so-and-so, but by which stage various aspects will have been exaggerated. While any blanks will also have been filled in with the use of what’s colloquially referred to as ‘artistic license’.

Ultimately the once fact will have become a series of half-truths which border on myth and almost assume urban legend status.

Any subject is fair game to gossip-mongerers who never really grasped the essence of a story in the first instance. The world of motor insurance isn’t immune from this, which means that stories once, perhaps, based in reality – and harbouring some elements of truth – have been taken out of all context after they have been passed on Chinese-whispers style.

Fortunately we’re here to iron out the falsehoods and separate the bad and the downright ugly from the good when it comes to telling the truth about car insurance. Below we’ve addressed some of the more common car insurance myths, so you know once and for all what’s true and what’s not…

Red cars cost more to insure

This is a massive work of fiction as it happens, yet it never ceases to amaze us as to how many people still believe this enduring fallacy.

To clarify once and for all, a vehicle’s exterior colour (or interior for that matter) has absolutely no bearing on car insurance premiums whatsoever.

If I phone my motor insurance provider’s call centre, my premium will increase

Partial fabrication of the truth again. Yes, it’s possible that some (but by no means, all) insurers will bill policyholders an admin fee but this isn’t added to an existing or future premium. Rather it’s a one-off admin fee normally charged when you call to confirm/update new car details.

Comprehensive insurance covers me for mechanical issues

No it doesn’t we’re afraid.

While comprehensive motor insurance covers damage sustained by the policyholder’s vehicle and those of a third party in the event of an accident – as well as vandalism, theft and various ‘acts of God’ – it categorically DOESN’T pay out for engine issues or general wear and tear which the vehicle is subjected to in the course of its life (i.e, tyres, radiator damage, new clutch/gearbox, etc…).

Small, compact, less expensive cars are cheaper to insure

Alas, no. Another work of fiction. Although not totally, as your city car may indeed be a fuel-sipping, environmentally-friendly, sub-1.0-litre engine. But don’t be fooled by size, which isn’t everything.

Yes, the vehicle may be small in dimension but it could easily brandish a powerful, performance-driven engine beneath its bonnet.

In addition to this, and statistically-speaking, smaller cars typically sustain more damage in a collision (due to diminished surface area) and are more prone to being classed as a write off as a direct result. Which again can be frowned upon by insurers and reflected in associated risk profiles (i.e. premium costs)

Thieves are more likely to target new cars

Actually in reality the opposite tends to be true.

Surveys frequently reveal that car thieves tend to steal older cars – for two very good reasons. Firstly they are easier to steal (due to security on older cars being typically more lax than on newer vehicles) and secondly because of the value of parts on the used car market.

Drivers of sports and performance cars receive more tickets and thus pay steeper motor insurance premiums

A half-truth to be honest. Yes, they’ll probably end up with higher insurance premiums because they tend to drive faster in certain conditions, but it all rather depends on other policy criteria too –  e.g. the driver’s age, occupation, postcode, where the car is parked most of the time and the policyholder’s driving history/experience amongst various other variables.

Also when it comes to landing on the wrong side of the law for motoring offences it’s just as likely the guilty party drives a small city car or MPV.

I can halve my motor insurance premium by putting it in my parent’s name and citing myself as a named driver only

Fiction. Car insurance providers wised-up to this illegal practice a while ago now – something which is known in insurance industry circles as ‘fronting’ – and will actively avoid this duplicitous plan from going beyond the planning stage by ensuring that the would-be policyholder lists all the vehicles within a household and determines the main driver for each.

What’s more, if you don’t tell the truth and you’re found out at a later date (potentially as a result of a crash scenario) then you could instantly invalidate your insurance policy and face criminal charges in the more extreme cases.

I can claim for the full value of any of my personal belongings stolen if my car is broken into

No you can’t, you’ve been sold a dummy there.

The majority of motor insurers flag up an upper limit with regard to the maximum amount they will recompense the policyholder for should items be removed from a car.

This is usually in the region of £100 to £150, excluding a stereo system).

Ill-advisedly many car owners believe that they can file a claim for a limitless amount of personal effects in this situation, yet they’re sorely disappointed when they realise they can’t.

The moral of this story is NOT to leave expensive items (including mobiles, laptops, tablets, sat navs etc…) lying around and on view in your vehicle.

If an accident is deemed to not have been my fault, or my vehicle is stolen, then I won’t be liable to pay the excess

Don’t bank on this. The excess is the pre-agreed amount you confirmed with your motor insurance provider that you’d pay up-front in the event of making a claim. If the accident is found to not have been caused by you then you could potentially receive your excess amount back, providing that your insurer recoups all its money from the third party or their insurance company. But nothing is written in stone in this instance and largely depends on many variables.

With fully comp policies I’m automatically covered to drive someone else’s car, as I’m fully comp on any car I drive

Yes and no. Most policies pave the way for this only in certain pre-defined sets of circumstances, and may conversely refuse to offer it for a number of alternative reasons explained in your motor insurance policy documentation.

Plus – and it’s a big PLUS – even in such instances where cover exists to this end, it only ever applies to third party. Which translates as the driver being responsible for any damage sustained to the car they’re driving/borrowing at the time of an incident, albeit whilst being covered for damage to another vehicle.

I’ve got a driving conviction, so I won’t be able to get car insurance

It’s not as cut and dry as that. Even if you possess a serious conviction – say drink driving – it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be refused motor insurance, as there are many specialist insurers out there who cater specifically for drivers with convictions, while even some of the household name car insurance firms might well help you out.

Having said that, expect the annual premiums to be sky high for a good while afterwards as you prove yourself once again.

I have speeding convictions – and points on my driver’s license – so I can’t get motor insurance

Wrong. Speeding convictions aren’t a rare occurrence as increasing numbers of otherwise careful motorists are getting caught out by the proliferation of speed cameras popping up on UK roads.

The law of averages comes into play, and as a result many motor insurers will cover someone with the one speeding conviction for no additional charge.

However, if your speeding convictions run into higher numerals the chances are your premiums will shoot up accordingly.

Charging a work colleague petrol money might invalidate my car insurance policy

No. This isn’t entirely true. Unless you’re found to be making a profit by providing your ‘lift to work’ services, your insurance should remain perfectly valid in the eyes of your policy provider.

Your main concern should be remembering to inform the motor insurer that you’re using it on a regular basis for commuting purposes, so your cover extends to this.

Most policies take into account social, domestic and pleasure use, while some will have commuting too. However, if this is all you have you cannot use your car in connection with work, such as going to appointments or making deliveries; both of which stipulate that you arrange additional cover.

I will lose some of my no claims bonus if I claim on my car insurance for a smashed window

Not true. If it’s merely a smashed window that you’ve registered a claim for then your NCD should normally remain untouched. But be aware that in this instance you may well have to pay the excess which your existing policy agreement was based on. This will be outlined in your documentation anyway.

Not having a valid MOT means that my car insurance policy is null and void

Not always. It pretty much depends on your insurance provider.

Whether or not your vehicle requires that a valid MOT is in evidence will be stipulated in the policy’s terms and conditions.

Many insurers simply require the vehicle to be classed as roadworthy. On the flip side – and if you DON’T have a current MOT – then you risk the value of the vehicle being decreased  at the time of a claim being lodged; which certainly won’t serve your best financial interests.

You can insure a car with more than one motor insurance provider

No. While it’s not unheard of, the background to any such situation is not that straight forward.

You should only ever insure a vehicle with the sole motor insurer, yet some companies may allow policyholders to cover a vehicle temporarily whilst it’s covered under another policy.

But in all likelihood this would only ever come to pass in the event on the permanent insurer refusing to cover the driver of the vehicle.

A point in question would be if and when the permanent policy stipulates that all drivers must be over 25 years of age. Despite rare occasions where this crops up, for the most part insurers will try to avoid this situation arising as ultimately it causes questions as to who is responsible for dealing with a subsequent claim.

I can keep quiet about my past convictions or claims when driving my motorbike/van or lorry when I get a car insurance policy

Fiction, very much so. It’s imperative that you disclose ALL your motoring convictions to any new motor insurance provider from the outset, irrespective of the vehicle you were driving at the time.

Honesty is always the best policy, whether you feel the information you give is irrelevant or even if a previous insurer overlooked a particular fact. Above and beyond anything else all insurers are different and apply different criteria to what they feel is relevant or not.

If I stick with my existing car insurance policy provider I’ll be rewarded for my loyalty

Think again – it always pays to switch. Complacency and a ‘better-the-devil-you-know’ mentality doesn’t always pay-off, especially not in car insurance premium terms, as recent research has found that motor insurance policyholders here in the UK are collectively wasting £9.4billion by sticking rather than twisting; and on average tend to stay loyal to one company for 2.7 years before even entertaining the notion of switching their allegiance.

Originally lured in by competitive sign-up deals and offers, when it comes to renewal time those once impressive premium quotes will increase dramatically.

I don’t need to inform my motor insurer if I have less than 6 points on my driver’s license

Fiction. Any points or convictions received for previous driving offences need to be admitted to, regardless of the when, why and what fors. Failure to be up-front could easily invalidate your motor insurance policy.

All my no claims discount will be wiped off by any claim I make on my motor insurance policy

Fiction again. Unless of course you have less than 2 years NCD, then unfortunately it’s true. But for the most part – and once you’ve got the all-important two years under your claim-free driving belt – should you make a claim then in reality you will drop on average two places; thus allowing you to retain some of your existing NCD, as well as providing a platform on which to rebuild.

That said, should you register two claims in the space of the one policy year then your NCD will suffer an almighty blow; unless you opted in for protected or guaranteed no claims cover at some point.

My car insurance premium won’t rise as I’ve protected my no claims discount

Fiction. The underlying price will always increase if and when a motor insurance policyholder makes a claim, irrespective of you having a protected NCD.

You may well have built up a 50% discount which won’t be jeorpordised by a claim (and which will trigger a 50% reduction in the event of said claim), yet the base price of a premium is subject to change at the end of one term and beginning of another, regardless.

Opting for a higher car insurance policy excess will bring costs down

Yes and no. On the surface plumping for a higher excess is seen as useful way of reducing monthly premiums, but overall the additional amount you’re then liable to pay towards the cost of a claim will nearly always outweigh the reduction the policyholder received in the premium. So effectively representing something of a false economy.

Third party cover is cheaper than fully comprehensive

Not any more. While it was once common knowledge that the entry-level car insurance policy was as cheap as the proverbial chips, times have changed as more and more youngsters who have elected to arrange third party cover are involved in accidents, thus resulting in claims, thus pushing up the premiums for this motor insurance product.

Providers have generally reacted to this perceived increase in risk by driving up the cost of third-party only cover, yet the knock-on effect has seen many cases where fully comprehensive packages turn out to be more competitively priced than third party examples in recent years.

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