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Have you checked your motor insurance policy recently?

Updated on October 14, 2013


(I bet you haven’t)

It is only when people want to make a claim that it suddenly dawns on them that they don’t have the cover that they thought they had. But they might also realise that while the level of cover is correct what that policy includes is not what they thought.

First and simplest: check your documents and make sure they are correct. If they aren’t ring your insurer to get them put right. Your insurer will assume they are right if you don’t tell them they are not and if you have to make a claim and omissions and errors come to light the claim cannot proceed until these are rectified. So check to see that you name and address are correct, that the car details are correct and that your policy allows you to drive the car for the purposes you need it. These are the basics but check the following too:

Who is the registered owner and keeper of the vehicle?

You will be asked if you are the "registered owner and keeper" of the car. Only the owner of the vehicle can insure it. But for insurance purposes you are still considered the owner even if the car is on finance for example in which case the finance company own it or a company car in which case it is owned by the company.

Who is allowed to drive the car?

You will be asked who the drivers will be on your policy.

Insured Only to Drive (IOD) - only the policyholder may drive.

Insured & Spouse/Partner - Insured & wife (or partner)

Named Driver Policy - The Policyholder and another driver: This could be you and a sibling or a friend or an employee.

Any Driver policy - Usually this will be for a vehicle belonging to a business where any employee is allowed to drive it.

You can still be the policyholder even if you don’t drive the car and your policy will simply note that you are ‘excluded’ from driving with someone else declared as the main driver.

Who will be the main user of the vehicle?

Your insurance premium will (among other factors) be rated on who the main user is and which of the drivers on your policy is the highest risk. A businessman who does a lot of travelling for his work will be a higher risk than his wife who only uses the car for shopping and visiting friends occasionally and a young driver will be higher risk than his 45 year old dad. In a case where a father is the policyholder and has his 18 year old son on the policy as a named driver the premium will be based on his son because he is the higher risk. Which brings us neatly to…

Fronted Risk.

Some people buying insurance know this. They know that if they by a car for their 18 year old son their insurance policy will literally cost thousands. So they:

a) say the car is theirs, when it’s not and

b) declare themselves to be the main user when they aren’t.

This is what insurance companies call “a Fronted Policy,” a blatant attempt at deception to reduce the cost of buying an insurance policy. An insurance company will immediately become suspicious in cases where the drivers on a policy are a father and a young sibling and the father says the car is his and that he is the main user. Suspicions may also be aroused if the car is question is not the sort of car one would expect a middle-aged person to drive. Or if it is a 2nd family car. Or if the car is insured by a woman who is a housewife but she has her 18 year old son on the policy as a named driver.

So before dealing with any claim your insurer may want to see proof of who bought the car and check who is named on the registration documents as the 'owner and keeper'. If your insurer decides that it is dealing with a 'Fronted Risk' It will then demand a hefty additional premium to be paid (charging you what should have paid in the first place) and will not offer to renew your policy. In which case when you attempt to get insurance elsewhere in the future and you are asked if you have ever been refused cover you will have to say ‘yes’ and give the reason why.

Have you had any accidents or claims in the last three years?

Many people will say ‘no’ to this question assuming that the question is really asking, ‘have you had any accidents or claims in the last three years‘…

a) while insured with our company, or

b) while driving this car, or

c) for which you were at fault.

But the question is not asking that at all. It’s asking if you have had any accidents or claims in the last three years. Your claims history is a material fact that an insurer needs in order to calculate the risk and work out the appropriate premium for it.

Have you had any convictions on your licence in the last five years?

All too often people don’t mention convictions they have on their licence until it comes to making a claim. The consequences could be that your insurer will recalculate the premium taking this new information into account and will ask you to pay an additional premium before the claim can proceed which can be very expensive if the conviction happened more than one year ago and is backdated. Or it may decide to refuse to renew the policy and in extreme cases may even repudiate the claim and cancel the policy. Some convictions carry more severe penalties than others. A CU80 for instance is treated more harshly than an SP30 while some insurers will not offer cover for anyone who has been convicted for drink driving. The most common convictions that people have on their licence are:

Speeding (SP30/40/50)

Ignoring traffic lights (TS10)

Using a mobile phone (CU80)

Driving without insurance (IN10)

Drink driving (DR10).

Again, beware of the question. It is not asking you if you have any convictions currently on your licence. It’s asking you if you’ve had any driving convictions in the last five years. Saying ‘no’ to this question because your SP30 from four years ago is off your licence by now is the wrong answer.

Let’s suppose your policy runs from 01/01/10 to 01/01/11. Any conviction that occurred between those two dates will not affect your policy until the policy is due for renewal in 2011.But any driving conviction that occurred before 01/01/10 will be charged for and the charges will be backdated. In other words if you had a speeding conviction three years ago but didn’t tell your insurance company until now your insurance company will charge an additional premium for each of those three years.

Has your vehicle any non standard modifications?

This is another area where people make mistakes. You must check and be sure that your car has no modifications on it (especially if you are buying a second hand car from a private seller). A non-standard modification is anything added to the vehicle that is not ’factory standard’. It is anything that changes the look and/or performance of the car. So tinted windows are a modification, alloys, a lowered suspension, a box exhaust, body kits and any alterations made to the engine are all examples of modifications that need to be declared. If you buy a car from a dealer and he offers you ‘options’ that you can add to your car then these will also be modifications that your insurance company will need to be told about. (There are exceptions to this: some insurers will allow you to have modifications on your car if the value of those modifications are less £1000. Also modifications to the interior of the car, things like leather seats, will not adversely affect your premium).

Many insurance companies will not insure a car that has modifications on it if the policyholder is a young driver . And if they find out such a policy will be cancelled at inception. If you are challenged by your insurance company and you tell them, “well I didn’t realise that it was a modification” wont do you any good. It is your car and it’s your job to know what kind of car it is and whether it has any modifications on it. Nor will it help you to say, “I know it has tinted windows but that’s not a modification.” It’s not you who decides what is a modification. It is not you who decides what an insurer needs to know. Neither will it help you to say, “but they were already on the car when I bought it.” Again, if you have alloys for a Polo on a Golf then that is classed as ‘non-standard’ modification because although both cars are made by VW they are different models. If an insurer finds out that a car does have undisclosed modifications on it then just as with driving convictions the premium that you paid for your policy will have to be recalculated to take this into account and an additional premium will have to be paid. You will be asked to provide proof of when the modification was bought and the premium recalculated from that point. If you are not able to supply proof of fitment then the additional premium will be charged from when you took out the policy.

Backdating additional premiums.

If your insurer is made aware of undisclosed driving convictions or claims or modifications on the car going back one year or more they will recalculate what the premiums would have been had they been made aware of these facts at the time. However a FOS ruling has decreed that additional premiums cannot be back dated as the policies these are being applied to are contracts that have ended. Even so an insurance still continue to ‘backdate’ additional premiums.

In conclusion.

Check your policy documents . If any discrepancy occurs that affects your cover or your ability to claim it wont be sufficient to say, “but I told you that when I rang.“ Your Insurer can usually check what was said at the time as all calls are recorded. But even if they can’t they will refer you back to the documents that you were issued and will ask if you checked them and if you did and could see that they were inaccurate why you didn’t ring back to get the errors rectified.

Answer all the questions that are put to you. Don’t be tempted not to answer a question merely because it doesn’t seem relevant to you or because you think its none of their business. You want to buy a motor policy and an insurance company wants to sell you one. But the contact you agree to will always have be on their terms and conditions. When you ring up for a quote an insurance company will ask all the questions it needs to in order to establish whether or not it wants your business (it may decide that it doesn’t) and if it does how much it will charge for it (again a high premium is a sign that it doesn’t really want your business).


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    • profile image

      hi 3 years ago

      my ex partner is the owner keeper of the car, I know she has changed her address, as I need to pass an extended test sooner than later now , i asked if I was still on the policy (as a named driver) as i was wondering if i could use her car for the test as it saves me shelling out for 4 hour tutor car hire, she informed me that I was, things have changed in my mind regarding this and what I wanted to clarify was, has she now by not taking me of the policy obtained insurance through deception and continue to benefit from premium reduction by my name being on the policy, quite honestly I want o stab her in the back deeper and twist it

      regards Nic

    • profile image

      reinhard beck 3 years ago

      hi Nic,

      I assume your ex partner is the owner and keeper of the car. Think of it like this; suppose you were still living together but you chose not to drive the car (because for example you were working away) it wouldn't invalidate her policy. She can still insure it "insured and spouse" even if she is the only one using it (for now). From my experience a "I&S" policy is not cheaper than a "IOD" policy. In any case an insurance company will not ask for proof that she has a spouse/partner or that they drive the car and nor will they be able to prove that she deliberately had a policy on "I&S" to save money which is why "I&S" policies are no cheaper than "IOD" ones.

    • profile image

      Nic 3 years ago

      Hi, my partner moved out, obviously she will have changed her address to her mothers, I was added on the policy a few years ago as a cohabitating partner, if she continues to keep me on the policy would she be using the car with invalid insurance as me being on the policy reduced her premium

    • profile image

      reinhard beck 4 years ago

      Hi Peggy,

      Yes you are. He still has to insure the car for you though because it is still his car . But his policy will say something like that "the policy holder is excluded from driving" or words to that effect.

    • profile image

      peggy 4 years ago

      if i'm on my partners insurance to drive his car then he gets a ban from driving ,am I still insured to drive his car?

    • profile image

      Reinhard Beck 4 years ago

      Hi Tracey,

      If your policy is comp or TPFT you'll be okay. Make sure that the theft of your car has been reported to the police. It doesn't matter whether your partner lives with you or not and in a theft case it doesn't matter whether or not he is named on the policy. Usually an insurer will wait 7 days before accepting that your car has been stolen and then they will pay out on it's estimated value.

    • profile image

      tracey 4 years ago

      On my insurance it says chobating/partner even tho I don't live with my partner he is still a name drive on my insurance an my childs dad my car got stolen now don't no if they will pay out cause of this on my policy an also it as house wife on it I do work part time an am a full time mom but I am not married and they no this

    • profile image

      reinhard beck 4 years ago

      Hi Dan,

      The owner needs to report that the car has been stolen and make a claim under their insurance policy. Perhaps they are under the impression that your ex-fiance dad is the owner. You need to be able to show that it was your car (that you bought it and you can prove it)

    • profile image

      dan rose 4 years ago

      hi, my car was recently stolen, until now I didn't remember that I had my ex fiancé dad on the insurance, the insurance will now not pay out until they can talk to him, I cant trace him I have no contact with her or her family anymore, is there anything I can do?

      going through all my documents there is nothing to say in the event of a claim they need to talk to the extra driver.

      can anyone help?

    • profile image

      reinhard beck 4 years ago

      Hi Currli

      Only the owner of the car can insure it. If a car is bought on finance they are the owner (until the finance is paid off ) so neither your son or you own the car. You use it so you are just the keeper (that is you are responsible for it and who drives it). When you insure a car you are always asked if you are the owner and keeper to which you should say "no" to the 1st and "yes" to the second. Whose name is it on the V5 because that confirms who the registered keeper is. The finance agreement your son signed will confirm that he bought but that the finance company own it. On the bright side; if some one hit you then it sounds they (the 3rd party) are at fault and their insurer will settle.

    • profile image

      currli 4 years ago

      my son bought me a car on finance so when asked who was the registerd keeper I said it was me

      somebody hit the car insurance wont look at it because they said I lied

      the car was a present so the car is mine

    • profile image

      Reinhard Beck 4 years ago

      Hello Helen X,

      They should ask you under "Who is the owner and keeper". But they do need to know. It wont affect your policy or the premium you pay.

    • profile image

      Helen x 4 years ago

      Do I have to inform my insurance company if the car is on finance...

    • profile image

      reinhard beck 4 years ago

      barrie turner,

      You'r quite correct. I'll sort it out when I've got five minutes

    • profile image

      Barrie Turner 4 years ago

      Very miss leading site - A registration document (V5) is not proof of ownership. The registered keeper should be the person who is actually using / keeping the vehicle and this is not necessarily the owner of the vehicle or the person who is paying for it.

      He is the person responsible for the vehicle so far as official communications from the police/DVLA etc., but the owner is the person who put up the cash (or was given it as a gift).

      The DVLA make a point of saying that the person named on the registration document is not necessarily the owner.

    • profile image

      james ampee 4 years ago

      gouls rule

    • profile image

      Reinhard Beck 5 years ago


      I've no idea how it works in the USA but in the UK speeding tickets are issued automatically when you've been caufght by a speed camera.

    • monicamelendez profile image

      monicamelendez 5 years ago from Salt Lake City

      So is it the driver's responsibility to report any traffic ticket? For some reason I thought this process was automated...

    • profile image

      rolly 6 years ago

      before dealing with any claim your insurer may want to see proof of who bought the car and check who is named on the registration documents

    • profile image

      awesomeactress 7 years ago


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