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Revealed: the best and worst car insurers for claims handling

car insurance claim form

You never know how good a car insurance company is until you make a claim. Which is why new research into the best and worst insurers for claims handling could prove to be invaluable.

Consumer group Which? surveyed 2,111 car insurance customers who had made a claim in the past two years. They were asked about their experience during the claims process and how likely they would be to recommend their provider.

This kind of study is worth considering when you’re faced with a stream of quotes on a price comparison website. Often, it pays to look beyond the price.

The AA finished bottom of the table for car insurance, with a customer score of 55 percent. A third of respondents felt their claims were handled more slowly than anticipated. The result: a disappointing two-star rating from Which?.

Axa was voted the second worst car insurer for claims handling, followed by Hastings Direct and Allianz. All three were awarded a damning one-star rating for communication.

Car insurance Brexit

At the opposite end of the table, NFU Mutual was rated the best insurer for claims handling, with Which? awarding a maximum five-star rating for speed of handling claims and a four-star rating for communication.

Interestingly, NFU Mutual also topped the table for home insurance (Which? surveyed 1,456 home insurance customers).

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: “When things go wrong motorists and homeowners should be able to count on their insurer, but it is concerning that some providers make the claims process difficult – with muddled or slow communication and poor customer service.

“Anyone unhappy with how their insurer handled their claim should shop around when it is time to renew – do your research and find an insurer that will make the claims process as stress-free as possible.”

The best car insurance companies for claims handling (best first):

  1. NFU Mutual
  2. RSA
  3. LV=
  4. Direct Line
  5. Co-op

The worst car insurance companies for claims handling (worst first):

  1. AA
  2. Axa
  3. Hastings Direct
  4. Allianz
  5. Ageas

The AA told Which? it did not feel the research reflected the feedback it received from customers, while Axa said it would be making changes to improve its customer service.

The five cheapest cars for young drivers to insure in 2019

cheapest cars insurance for young drivers

In revealing how much young people spend on getting on the road for their first year of driving, Admiral also spilt the beans on the cheapest used cars for new drivers to insure.

All of the top five cost less than £650 per year which, with four-figure first-year premiums still fresh in the minds of some at team Motoring Research, sounds pretty good value.

For reference, Admiral concluded that the average cost of insurance for a young driver’s first year on the road was £1,889. If you’re a lad, you’re suffering at an average cost of £2,294 and if you’re female, you’re still well into four figures at £1,660.

So without further delay, let’s reveal the secondhand cars that could hack insurance for young drivers…

Volkswagen Fox – £638

cheapest cars to insure for young drivers

At number five is the Volkswagen Fox. We’re glad that some of the other cars on this list are a bit more appealing. The Fox was, to be honest, a bit of a low point in VW’s tiny car career over the past 20 years. After the excellent Lupo and preceding the lovely Up!, the Fox is a bit lacklustre.

Still, you can’t argue with £638.20 per year to insure.

Fiat Panda – £635

cheapest cars to insure for young drivers

Now we’re getting a bit more funky. The Panda has to be one of the most lovable small cars on the road. Italian quirkiness mixed with those cute boxy looks to make for a car that appeals to anyone. You can even get one that’s geared for rougher terrain.

Just £635 a year to insure isn’t bad going either. What is a shame is how (not-so) safe they are…

Citroen C1 – £632

Citroen C1

More cute European quirkiness comes in the form of the Citroen C1. This was was the product of a three-way collaboration together with Toyota and Citroen’s sister firm, Peugeot. The Japanese firm got the all-new tiny Aygo, and Citroen and Peugeot got new small entries to their respective C1 and 107 ranges.

The C1 costs just £632 a year to insure. And if that’s still £4 too expensive for you, well, you’re in luck…

Peugeot 107 – £628

Peugeot 107

… Because curiously, the Peugeot costs £628 a year to insure, just undercutting the largely-identical Citroen. It’s likely down to small differences in parts prices, the different profile of drivers for each brand, and such like.

Notable for its absence here is the Toyota Aygo. Perhaps indicating Toyota charges a bit more for parts and a bit more for labour?

Volkswagen Up! – £618

cheapest cars to insure for young drivers

Coming full circle, we arrive at another Volkswagen – this time the superb Up! This, like the tiny Peugeot and Citroen above, was a collaborative effort, with the Mii and Citigo versions being sold by Seat and Skoda respectively. Neither feature in this top five, interestingly, but we can’t imagine they’re too much more expensive.

A brand-new Up! on PCP for well under £200 a month, combined with that low £618 to insure should both help placate young driver’s hunger for financed cars and help keep costs down. 

Insurance auto-renewals cost UK drivers £1.2 billion

Insurance renewal robbery

Insurers are costing UK motorists £1.23 billion every year with expensive auto-renewals on car insurance policies. 

Research by Go Compare has revealed a ‘loyalty trap’ that around 4.6 million fell into at their last renewal. These drivers could have saved up to £262 per person if they’d shopped around.

Misplaced loyalty

Nearly a third of the 62 percent who let their policy roll over didn’t query or shop around because of a feeling of loyalty to their insurance providers.

That beats the 22 percent who lacked the confidence to switch, the 15 percent who assumed other insurers wouldn’t be able to compete on price and the 10 percent who couldn’t be bothered because of the hassle.

The lowest earners pay the most

Those who pay for their insurance monthly (and more often than not, therefore, pay more) are 54 percent more likely to allow their policy to continue past renewal. 

Drivers from the lowest earnings groups are 38 percent more likely to pay monthly, and in turn will pay out an average of 18 percent more in fees and interest as a result. That’s not even taking into account the costs of letting a policy roll over.

It doesn’t hurt to ask

Insurance renewal robbery

You can save serious money simply by getting other quotations, going back to your insurer and threatening to leave.

Inflated renewals are a liberty that insurers are often allowed to take. As such, they will often be happy to re-quote on the threat of your departure, just to keep your custom. Loyalty is fine, just don’t let them take advantage of it.

A few tips from Go Compare, condensed by us:

  • Don’t accept your renewal quote without checking the price is competitive
  • Note your renewal date and give yourself time to check prices
  • Check the small print, make sure there are no hidden costs
  • If you can only afford monthly payments, consider a low-rate credit card to pay off over the course of a year

Safer drivers do like to be beside the seaside

WRC Llandudno

Motorists hoping to avoid a car accident should move to the seaside, according to research conducted by ClassicLine Insurance.

New data from the specialist insurer shows that it received the fewest amount of claims from drivers in the Scottish coastal city of Dundee, with the Welsh resort of Llandudno finishing a close second. Other locations appearing in the top ten include Blackpool and Aberdeen.

Predictably, London is the place to avoid if you fancy a stress-free driving experience – six of the capital’s districts appeared in the bottom ten, with NW and N the most accident-prone postcodes.

‘Something in the sea air’

Chevrolet at the seaside

Ian Fray, managing director at ClassicLine Insurance, said: “Our snapshot of UK motoring indicates that drivers in Dundee are the safest behind the wheel, whereas Londoners are most likely to be in a motoring prang.

“It also highlights that there must be something in the sea air which makes drivers more chilled out. Perhaps living near the coast makes people more relaxed and also more laid back in their driving habits.”

Ian added: “London is one of the most congested cities in the world and presents its very own stresses and unique driving challenges, which might explain why so many areas around the capital have increased accident driving claims with us.

“Given this scenario, our advice is to head to the seaside this weekend!”

The top ten tables in full

  Ten postcode areas with the lowest accident claim frequency Ten postcode areas with the highest accident claim frequency
1. DD Dundee NW London
2. LL Llandudno N London
3. TR Truro E London
4. KA Kilmarnock W London
5. HU Hull L Liverpool
6. FY Blackpool SW London
7. NP Newport HX Halifax
8. DT Dorchester SE London
9. AB Aberdeen SR Sunderland
10. LA Lancaster WD Watford
Fronting

Some front: parents are breaking the law to save on car insurance

Fronting

Around 10 percent of young driver car insurance policies are ‘fronted’, putting parents at risk of a trip to court and a criminal record.

This is according to research conducted by GoCompare, which also found that the average cost of car insurance for a 17-year-old now sits at a staggering £1,964. Little wonder so many parents are ‘fronting’ their child’s policy to save money.

‘Fronting’ is a term used to describe an older driver – usually a parent – claiming they’re the main driver of a vehicle that’s actually driven by a high-risk motorist, usually a young driver. Around 34 percent of the motorists surveyed said they would consider ‘fronting’ if it could save their child money.

Unfortunately for the parents, ‘fronting’ is technically insurance fraud and, if discovered, the policy becomes null and void and the policyholder could end up with a criminal record. 

In the event of an accident, although the insurance provider will settle the third party claim, they will usually seek to reclaim the costs from the policyholder. In serious cases involving a personal injury claim, the insurer may pursue the parent for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Twice as likely to make a claim

young drivers insurance savings

Lee Griffin, founding member at GoCompare said: “Unfortunately, many parents are putting themselves at risk of picking up a criminal record for the sake of reducing their child’s car insurance premiums. There may not appear to be any harm in insuring a child’s car in a parent’s name, but ‘fronting’ is illegal nonetheless.

“Car insurance premiums for new drivers can be high compared to those offered to more experienced drivers but there’s a good reason why. According to the ABI, drivers aged between 17 and 20 are twice as likely to make an insurance claim as other drivers and the cost of their claims can be up to three times higher than the average.”

GoCompare points out that while ‘fronting’ is illegal, it’s perfectly acceptable to add another person to a policy as a named driver. If they have a good driving record, the premium could be reduced by around £200.

Motorists can also save up to £268 a year by shopping around, while a telematics policy can help young drivers accumulate a no claims discount to further reduce their annual premium.

Insurers can tell when you’re lying on your car insurance application

Lying on insurance

Nearly 500,000 insurance applications were confirmed as containing false information in 2018, either withheld or an outright lie, in an attempt to bring down the cost of quotes.

We don’t need to tell you that insurance cover based on anything other than the truth is null and void if it gets put through. Any untruths on your insurance, intentional or not, can get you into trouble. A change of address, change of job or anything else insurers ask about is important to disclose.

The dangers are real. If you’re found to be lying or blissfully ignorant of false information on your policy, at best it will be cancelled and at worst, you’ll be prosecuted for fraud. There are five main fibs that can see you caught out on your application.

How the car is used

This refers to what usage you put down: social, commuting, business or otherwise. If you commute, you have to disclose this. Insurers consider that commuters drive at the busiest times of day and are more of a risk.

‘Fronting’

A common trick for young drivers first getting on the road is to be a named driver on their parents’ policy. Insurers consider this ‘fronting’ to be fraud, given that in most circumstances, the young driver will, in fact, have main use of the vehicle.

Occupation

Different occupations carry different risks. Saying you’re something you’re not in order to get your quote lower is an obvious no-no. It’s also important to tell your insurer if you change your job.

Lying on insurance

Hiding past prangs

Your driving history is an indication of how much of a risk you pose to insurers. As such, they need to know about any recent accidents, even if you didn’t claim.

Hiding points

As above, your history indicates risk. As well as accident history, your history of road law obedience (or lack thereof) is important to an insurer. We don’t need to tell you that withholding information about points and convictions is not recommended.

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Insure a car

How to get cheaper car insurance

Insure a car

Insurance is one of the biggest expenses associated with running a car. It’s natural, then, that we want it to cost as little as possible.

No specific advice can guarantee a low premium for all, but here’s our general guide on how to – legally – lower your quote. And the things you definitely shouldn’t do…

Buy the right car

This seems obvious and, of course, there’s probably a whole other article here. Generally speaking, the bigger and more powerful the engine, the more expensive the insurance. Likewise, a more prestigious and expensive car will bump up the cost, as will any model considered an accident-magnet. Ask any new driver who tried to insure a Citroen Saxo after 2005.

If keeping costs low is your prerogative, food-blender-powered hatchbacks will be cheaper than gas-guzzling coupes. But for many reading here, that won’t matter. You have your car and simply want the cheapest quote. There is hope for you, though. Read on…

Shop around

Too many are complacent about car insurance. We don’t put in the legwork, shop around, bounce between providers. That’s exactly what we should be doing.

Get on the price comparison sites but also call up companies directly. It’s mostly up to chance which provider will give you the best deal, so it’s worth talking to all of them.

Get your story straight

cheap car insurance

There are a number of things you must tell an insurer about yourself and your driving career. These include: how old you are, how long you’ve been driving, if you’ve had any accidents and when, what you do for work, where you live, how much you drive, where the car is parked… All this and more comes in to play.

While you must tell the truth, there is leeway to be explored. Your career for instance, can be listed in a number of different ways. A photographer is a videographer is a multimedia assistant. A bricklayer is a builder is a labourer  and so on. Play with the variables, but don’t stray from the truth.

It’s worthwhile working out how far you drive, too. The number of miles you cover in a year can affect your quote. Lower is better, in most cases.

Different types of policy

There are generally two types of policy: third-party, fire and theft, and fully comprehensive. If your car is worth anything over £500, we’d recommend fully comprehensive.

Third-party policies do not cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle in the event of an accident – only the car or object you crash into. Third-party is often a last resort taken by new drivers to get their premiums down.

Multi-car policies are interesting, however. Whether you’re living with your parents or have flown the nest, they can offer significant savings.

Young drivers can also get on their parents’ policy – fully-comp, with the ability to earn a no-claims bonus – for potentially a lot less than insuring themselves. Likewise, if you live with a partner and you both drive, it’s definitely worth checking whether you can share a multi-car policy.

Get a black box

It’s not the most elegant or convenient of solutions, but having a black box watching your every move behind the wheel often prompts insurers to charge you less. It’s become a mainstay of the newly-passed young driver.

Move somewhere cheaper

car insurance

Location is a big factor in the cost of car insurance. Maybe you should consider moving away from Carjack Alley and closer to Upstanding Avenue.

Don’t crash

Obviously, not crashing is a good thing in general. Never mind the immediate stresses of a prang, for the next three years (at least), your insurance will be more expensive.

All thanks to the no-claims bonus that you shattered – along with someone else’s headlight…

Get older

With age and experience come a great many things, including cheaper car insurance. Both 21 and 25 are big milestones when it comes to lower quotes.

If all else fails and you can afford to go without a car, sit on your licence until you’re a bit older. Pass your test as early as possible, though. Remember, they ask how long you’ve had your licence when totting up quotes.

Do not…

Car insurance

Don’t lie on your policy, about anything – simple as that. Don’t lie about modifications, the miles you’re doing, where you live, what you do, where the car is parked and so on.

Any untruths will invalidate your policy in the event of an accident. It’s not worth the risk.

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Britain's best biking pets

Revealed: the UK’s favourite motorcycling pets

Britain's best biking pets

“Dogs – and other pets – riding motorbikes is absolutely a thing.” That’s how the email about the the UK’s ultimate motorcycling pet began. Well, it certainly grabbed our attention. Don’t worry, though, these animals aren’t actually controlling the bikes…

So, what’s the story? Devitt Insurance Services ran a competition for Britain’s ultimate biking pet. This came following a survey by the company to discover the UK public’s attitude toward motorcyclists. The results were fairly damning: less than one percent of road users thought of bikers as friendly and only two percent considered them approachable.

The competition attracted 50 entries, with dogs, cats and even a few reptiles all considered. All in, 6,000 votes were cast.

Britain's best biking pets

Amazingly, the top two contestants secured more thanb 4,000 of those votes. The winning canine was Motorbike Milly from Glasgow, who secured 2,149 votes. That was just over 200 more than second-placer Teddy the Welshie from Gwynedd, with 1,943 votes. British pets, up your biking game…

“It’s been wonderful to see so many people, not only enter their pets, but also to cast votes for their favourite dog,” said Tom Warsop, Head of Marketing at Devitt.

“We have received thousands of votes, not to mention comments and photos from animal lovers across the country. We’d like to congratulate Milly on becoming our first Biking Buddy and are proud to announce a second Biking Buddies competition will take place next year.”

The moral of the story

Britain's best biking pets

It’s a good bit of fun, this ,but it also serves to remind us that bikers are humans, too – silly, animal-loving humans.

The results of the survey on public perception of motorcyclists are troubling, especially given car-driving motorists are one of the biggest threats to bikers on the road.

We’d do well to bear that humanity in mind when we drive. Next time you think ‘menacing biker’, remember that might be Motorbike Milly’s mum or dad.

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cheap car insurance

Revealed: the best day to buy car insurance

cheap car insurance

Buying your car insurance three weeks ahead of the renewal day could save you hundreds of pounds a year, an investigation by MoneySavingExpert (MSE) has revealed.

By analysing more than 18 million quotes from January to May, MSE found that the cheapest time to buy is 21 days before the start date, while leaving it to the last minute will leave you paying the highest price. Arranging the cover too early is almost as expensive as leaving it until the day it’s due to start.

A policy arranged three weeks early costs an average of £589 – a staggering £531 less than buying it a month in advance. Buy on the renewal date the price rises to £1,156 – £567 more than arranging cover at the optimum time.

MSE founder Martin Lewis said: “Car insurance pricing is based on a mix of ‘actuarial risk’ and which section of the market is being targeted. To find the risk they look for patterns, and we’ve now uncovered that one of those is how early you get a quote before renewal.

“To avoid being a last-minute loser, everyone with car insurance should, at the very least, put a note in their diary 25 days before renewal to sort it within a week.”

Plan ahead to secure the best deal

Car accident

While there’s no guarantee that the 21-day method will result in the cheapest premium, MSE suggests taking three steps to secure the lowest price.

  1. Lock in a rate 60 days in advance – two insurers allow you to secure a rate a month in advance, without any obligation to take up the offer.
  2. Check your renewal price, which is usually sent 28 days before its due date.
  3. Use a comparison site to find the cheapest quotes.

In June, analysis from Consumer Intelligence revealed that car insurance is getting cheaper, especially for young drivers. The report showed that average bills have dropped to £712 – a 5.5 percent fall in the past 12 months.

Crashed cars: what do these insurance write-off categories mean?

Car insurance is getting cheaper – especially for young drivers

Car crashCar insurance premiums are getting lower – and young drivers are the biggest winners. That’s according to analysis from Consumer Intelligence, which shows that average bills have dropped to £712 – a 5.5 percent fall in the past 12 months.

Under-25s, while still paying the highest premiums, saw bills fall by as much as 11.9 percent as they benefit from the continued growth of black box technology. Younger drivers pay an average £1,635 a year, compared with £412 for over-50s and £629 for motorists aged 25-49.

If you’re after another example of a north-south divide, it’s drivers in London who pay the most (£1,024), while motorists north of the border pay the least (£522). But Consumer Intelligence states that average insurance premiums are still 21.9 percent higher than in October 2013, when the research experts began collecting the data.

John Blevins, Consumer Intelligence pricing expert said: “Insurers are now free to compete on price without Insurance Premium Tax increases or changes to the Ogden rate which sets compensation for major personal injury claims.

“That is very welcome and should provide some relief for drivers when other motoring costs such as petrol prices are on the rise. The downward trend should continue with the increasing adoption of telematics helping to maintain the momentum. It’s interesting that around 22 percent of all the most competitive quotes are now from telematics providers.”

It pays to shop around

Commenting on the Consumer Intelligence analysis, Matt Oliver of GoCompare urged caution, saying: “Drivers have been on red alert over car premium increases for months and the big danger now is that they assume their next renewal letter will automatically make pleasant reading. It won’t.

“Premiums remain at historically high levels, as Consumer Intelligence points out, with average car bills still 22 percent higher than they were less than five years ago. Insurers don’t just uniformly handout 5.5 percent cheaper premiums to all existing customers.

“In fact, it is existing customers who regularly get the highest prices – particularly if they’ve renewed a few years in a row.”

Regardless of your renewal quote, you should shop around for the best deal before giving your current insurance provider the opportunity to match a like-for-like quotation.

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