As many as a quarter of parents could be breaking the law by “fronting” on car insurance for their children, according to a new study into driver behaviour.
Fronting is when an older or more experienced driver is named as the main driver on an insurance policy but another driver, often younger or judged to be higher risk, is the actual main user.
Claiming an older motorist is the main driver can help cut insurance costs substantially but is viewed as insurance fraud and as well as invalidating any policy can see offenders taken to court and hit with a substantial fine, penalty points and even a driving ban.
However, a poll of drivers with children aged 17 to 25 who held a licence or were learning to drive found that many parents were risking a brush with the law by fronting.
The study found that 23 per cent admitted to putting their child’s car insurance in their own name and including their child as an additional named driver, even though their child was the main user of the vehicle.
In Wales a massive 41 per cent said they had put their child’s insurance policy in their own name to bring down the costs.
Car insurance for younger drivers is substantially higher than for other age groups. According to GoCompare, which carried out the poll, drivers aged 17 to 19 pay an average of £872 per year, compared with £540 across all age groups.
Ryan Fulthorpe, motoring expert at GoCompare, said: “Unfortunately, parents are often unaware that fronting is insurance fraud and therefore illegal, so they could end up with a policy that’s null and void, as well as a criminal record.
“Fronted policies are often discovered during the claims process when the insurance company will look at the details of an accident. If they find that the main driver wasn’t the policyholder, then it can mean that the parent is liable for the costs of that accident, as the insurer will try to recoup any third party costs that they have paid out.
Mr Fulthorpe said the latest results showed a worrying increase in the number of families risking being caught fronting, jumping from 10 per cent of parents admitting to the offence in 2019.
“Whether this increase is due to financial concerns following the pandemic, or that more education needs to be done about fronting, is not clear,” he added.
While fronting is against the law, there are other ways for young drivers to keep insurance costs down.
Shop for a policy
With over 100 insurers to choose from, it’s unlikely that the first insurer you get a quote from will be the most competitive, so it’s worth getting a wide range of quotes. Some will price more competitively for younger drivers so it’s absolutely worth shopping around.
Avoid big engines and modifications
Cars with smaller engines (under 1000cc) generally fall into the lower insurance groups and that means lower premiums for young drivers. Also, the more modifications you make to a car, the more attractive it will be to thieves so where possible, keep to the manufacturer’s fittings and you will save on your premiums.
A telematics policy is where a tracking device is fitted to your car which will monitor your driving and price your premiums accordingly. So if you drive dangerously, your policy price will go up and if you prove to be a safe driver your premiums will fall faster.
Some car policies will include cover such as courtesy car, legal assistance, breakdown cover and key cover, but they’re not free. The cost will be built into the premium so you may be able to save money by removing them or choosing a different policy with a more basic level of cover.
Buy in good time
When you buy your policy can affect how much you pay. Some insurers may view people who purchase insurance at the last minute as slightly more risky and therefore more likely to take a chance behind the wheel, so buying well in advance could save you money on your premiums.