Car insurance myths

Car insurance myths

Sort out the car insurance facts from the fiction with our guide to the myths and realities of cover on the road.

If you have queries about your car insurance, there's often an expert on hand to tell you all you need to know.

The problem is that the 'expert' is usually a chap propping up the bar in your local and he's talking a lot of nonsense very loudly.

Car insurance - along with speed cameras and the price of fuel - is one of those subjects that everyone has an opinion on.

But this can lead to misconception and downright confusion, which doesn't help when you're trying to work out which policy is right for you!

Here looks at some of the most common beliefs about car insurance and shows you which are true and which are false, helping you better understand your policy.

1. I'm covered third party to drive any car so long as I have my own fully comprehensive policy

Maybe. Many motorists believe that they can hop in a friend's car and drive it so long as they have their own fully comprehensive policy. This is true with some policies but not all, so, if you want to drive someone else's vehicle, check with your insurer first and try our article on cover to drive other cars.Van insurance

2. Third party policies are always the cheapest option

False. Drivers are often surprised to find out that a fully comprehensive policy can be as cheap - and sometimes cheaper - than third party only or third party, fire and theft.

All sorts of factors are taken into account when you get car insurance quotes, including your age, occupation and the area in which you live.

Using a good price comparison tool will help you see the available options.

3. It's cheaper to stay with my existing car insurer as I'll get a loyalty discount

False. Unfortunately, you don't always get rewarded for sticking with the same insurance firm. In fact, auto-renewal of insurance is one of the big consumer cash wasters and significant savings can be made by shopping around and comparing deals. doesn't charge customers for using its service and we don't add fees or commission to the quotes you compare

If you get a lower quote elsewhere but do want to stay with your existing insurer, contact them to see if they can match your lowest quote. They might be keen to retain your custom - it's always worth a try!

4. It's always cheaper to contact the insurer direct

False. It's often thought that you can save a few pounds by cutting out the middle man ie the broker or comparison website. But it doesn't often work like this as insurers factor their own costs of advertising and attracting customers into the prices they charge.

Remember that doesn't charge customers for using its service and we don't add fees or commission to the quotes you compare. Instead, we charge the insurer after the sale is made, a sum we equate with their own advertising costs.

5. I could get into trouble if I pretend my mum is the main driver and I'm named on her policy

True. This is a temptingly common way for younger motorists to try to beat high insurance premiums, but it's also fraud.Telematics car insurance

Known as fronting, naming a lower-risk driver as the main user on the policy when the actual main driver falls into a higher-risk category can land both parties with a criminal conviction, and even a spell in jail.

Honesty is very much the best policy. Look into ways of reducing your premiums as the main driver, such as considering telematics or adding a more experienced motorist as a second driver (it's perfectly legal to do it this way around).

6. I've received a speeding ticket so my premiums will go up

Maybe. An initial three points for a minor speeding offence will not necessarily bump up your premiums. What might have more of an effect is how fast you were driving above the speed limit, or if you notch up more than one offence.

The important thing is to be honest with the insurance provider. Not telling them about points on your licence for an offence might invalidate your policy if you later need to make a claim.

7. Older cars are cheaper to insure

Sometimes. Older cars can be cheaper because their value tends to be lower. But older cars can also be easier to break into, without the sophisticated alarms and mobilisers fitted to newer vehicles.

Also, depending on the exact age and model, your motor might be classed as a classic car. These can be cheaper to insure because classic cars tend to have low mileage and be extremely well maintained. Some insurers also offer discounts to members of approved classic car clubs.

There are different levels of business insurance, from travelling between business sites to selling light goods such as flowers door-to-door

All vehicles are ranked by the Association of British Insurers in 50 categories depending on a number of factors, such as their price, top speed, the cost of replacement parts and security.

You can find out which car insurance category your vehicle falls into with our handy tool.

8. Insuring my car for business use will cost more

True. Business use insurance does tend to cost more due to the perceived risks associated with the vehicle being driven more frequently or in heavier rush-hour traffic.

However, as always it does depend on your own circumstances and factors such as whether you travel with a lot of expensive equipment or stock. There are different levels of business insurance, from travelling between business sites to selling light goods such as flowers door-to-door.

As always, make sure you tell your insurer what you are using your car for. Not owning up to business use in order to save a few pounds could prove a false economy if you are involved in a road accident and your insurer refuses to pay out. Read more about insuring your car for work use.

9. My insurance policy is invalid if I drink and drive

It depends. A drink driving conviction could well invalidate any claim you try to make for injury to yourself or damage to your own car or property.

THINK! Drug drive paranoia

Some insurers will not pay out if you are under the influence of drink or drugs - read more in our article on drug driving.

This means that your insurance could be invalid after one drink even if you are well within the legal limit.

The law allows drivers to drink a certain amount of alcohol before driving; the problem is that this amount varies from person to person depending on factors such as weight and alcohol tolerance.

Insurance companies do remain obliged under the Road Traffic Act to meet the costs of any claim by a third party for injury or damage.

So the fact that you were drink driving will not invalidate claims made by anyone injured as a result.

But the insurers are entitled to claim these costs back from you. In reality, this does not frequently happen, but in some cases motorists have been billed for thousands of pounds that their insurance company had paid out to a third party.

10. I won't be able to get insurance if I have a driving conviction

False. Some insurers will still be prepared to insure you following a conviction for an offence such as drink driving, and some companies even specialise in high-risk drivers. But your premiums could be sky high! Read more about driving convictions and car insurance.

So there you have it. Hopefully our guide has cleared up the facts from the fiction more effectively than that chap in the pub could do.

But we can't cover everything here, so try our extensive car insurance guides, always make time to read your policy documents thoroughly and get in touch with your insurer if you still need to clarify anything.

By Rebecca Lees