For many young drivers, becoming 17-years old and being able to drive is one of the high points of their life. For many parents it means anxiety and extra expense. The majority of young drivers probably won’t be lucky enough to have their own car instantly, and are likely to have to borrow mum’s or dad’s.
This means parents must make insurance arrangements, but what impact does insuring young drivers have on a typical premium? And when it comes to covering a car in their name, what’s the best way to go about it? We get some answers by talking to experts and parents about their experiences.
Does engine size make a difference to insurance?
It’s generally considered that the smaller the car, the cheaper it will be to insure for a young driver. This is true but it’s not quite as simple as that. A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) explained: “Insurance group ratings are no longer determined by engine size. This is because manufacturers may produce a single engine but give it varying power outputs. Factors considered in the group rating process are the value of the vehicle, how long it takes to repair, the cost of parts and security.”
What’s the effect of adding a child to your insurance?
I put the details of my wife and her car into a selection of comparison websites. I then added a fictitious 18-year old, first as a learner. Insurers don’t think that being overseen by a qualified driver makes youngsters as much of a risk. However, my wife’s premium still doubled when our learner driver daughter was added. The shock came when it doubled again once our daughter had passed her test and could be added to the policy to drive on her own.
What about insuring young drivers for their own car?
This is where things start to get expensive. Drivers aged 17 to 19 make up just 1.5 per cent of licence holders. But they’re involved in 12 per cent of fatal or serious accidents. As a result, insuring a young driver can be an expensive business. When Jayne Clifford’s daughter Sara passed her test, they were horrified at the cost of cover. “We were quoted more than £3000 by one insurer. That was more than double the cost of the car,” said Jayne. “We eventually got cover for £1900. Thankfully after a year it nearly halved and it came down significantly again in year three.”
How does ‘fronting’ work?
Fronting is when a lower risk driver – usually a parent – insures a car in their name while the main driver is the higher risk youngster. In the short-term, the younger driver benefits from the parent’s cheaper insurance. But fronting is illegal. If insurers discover that it’s been going on, they can refuse to pay out on claims. It frequently comes to light when children take their car to university and have an accident hundreds of miles from home. In a survey last year, it was claimed that one in 10 parents ‘front’ motor insurance for their offspring.
What about telematics?
Telematics (or ‘Black Box’) technology requires a tracking box to be fitted to the car. It uses GPS to measure the driver’s speed and the smoothness of their driving. The insurer can then rate individuals according to how they drive rather than lumping all young drivers together. Those who prove they drive well and within the law pay significantly lower insurance premiums, with savings frequently worth hundreds of pounds.
“We got one of these for my 18-year old son and it’s worked brilliantly,” said parent Mark Evans. “There’s even an app so I can track him and make sure he’s behaving himself – at least when he’s behind the wheel!” However, other drivers have reported a rise in costs, so it’s important to speak with insurers before taking out such cover.