As many as two million drivers classing themselves as main driver for insurance purposes when they are not

15th May 2014

As many as two million UK motorists may have classed themselves as the main driver for insurance purposes when they are not, typically to secure lower premiums for their children, research from insurer Privilege suggests.

Privilege says that 6% of drivers could be jeopardising their insurance, by listing themselves as a main driver on the policy for someone else’s car when they are not, to help the real main driver cut costs.

The practice is known as “fronting” and usually happens when parents take out a policy in their own name in a bid to save their child money on their premiums, when it is actually their child who is the main driver.  If this is proven to be the case, the penalties could include the cancellation of the policy with no premiums refunded, claims being refused and difficulty obtaining insurance in the future says the insurer.

The research suggests that there are a further one million or three per cent of such ‘phantom’ named drivers named on policies for a vehicle they have never driven.

There is also an alarming level of confusion around what level of cover a driver has when they are behind the wheel of someone else’s car, but are not named on the policy. One in five or 21 per cent car owners who drive regularly believe that they would be covered for damage to that car, perhaps unaware that the Driving Other Cars (DOC) extension cover does not pay for to damage to the vehicle they are driving itself.

A worrying three per cent of drivers who do not own a car admitted that they have driven other cars belonging to family and friends without being named on their policy, effectively meaning that they are driving completely uninsured.

Charlotte Fielding, head of car insurance at Privilege says: “Similarly, it is vital that drivers ensure that they know under what circumstances they can drive cars that they are not named on the policy for and understand the liability they are accepting by doing this. “Having a comprehensive policy may mean that someone can drive other cars, although it should be noted that this is not automatically included in all policies, but it does not mean that the vehicle is covered on a comprehensive basis. Rather, the insurer will pay for any costs incurred by the third party only; leaving the driver liable for any costs to the vehicle they were driving.”

The research conducted among 2002 participants from 14th-17th April 2014 was weighted to be nationally representative.

101 respondents said that they were the main driver on two policies but only one was for their main car. This equates to five per cent of the overall sample and is equivalent to 2,541,194 people when extrapolated to the 2013 UK adult population of 50,371,000.

48 respondents said that they were a named driver on another policy but haven’t ever driven the car. This equates to three per cent of the overall sample and is equivalent to 1,535,116 people when extrapolated to the 2013 UK adult population of 50,371,000.

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