If your son or daughter has recently passed their practical driving test after months or perhaps even years of lessons, they can be given a wholehearted pat on the back from us – congratulations!
No doubt any young adults in your family who have just gained their licences to freedom are now itching to get out on the open road. Standing in their way, though, is the challenge of finding a car that is sensible but still floats their boat, along with the task of identifying the most suitable car insurance policy to keep them legal and best-protected. We’ve put together this little insurance guide full of tips for parents helping their children take to the road.
1. Specialists: find an insurer that specialises in young or newly-qualified drivers, as they typically have more experience with this type of customer and in some cases offer specially tailored and adapted services, along with trained customer service advisors geared up for helping newbies on the road
2. Telematics: identify if the insurer’s policies incorporate something called telematics, which essentially means that a piece of ‘black box’ computer hardware, a bit like a plane’s flight recorder, is installed into your son or daughter’s car. It’s not like Big Brother. Basically, the system scores a driver based on things like acceleration, braking, swerving, speed and the number of journeys made, rewarding customers who drive the most efficiently and smoothly – which also happens to reduce their fuel bills and insurance premiums
3. Payments: some car insurers provide the option of paying the annual premium by monthly instalments, so see if this will be possible, helping make the cost more manageable, especially if your young relative will be paying for it themselves
4. Modifications: cars modified in any way at all, from a different stereo system or alloy wheels to an extra spoiler, a tweaked engine or even just stickers displayed on the vehicle will not usually be covered by young driver insurers, so bear this in mind when car-hunting with your son or daughter
5. Mileage: if they won’t be likely to make too many trips to Land’s End or John-o-Groats in their new (to them) car and will probably just stick to the local area, driving to and from university and work, and out with their friends, it may be possible to specify a mileage limit when signing up for an insurance policy, which can help keep the premium down
6. Advanced qualifications: we’re referring to ones in driving, not in something like swimming or chemistry, of course. Enrolling on and passing a qualification like the Pass Plus or one of the courses run by RoSPA doesn’t guarantee that your son or daughter’s premium will reduce, but it’ll certainly make them more aware and competent on the road
7. Fronting: this is the illegal situation where a parent or guardian, motivated out of an understandable desire to reduce a young driver’s premium, offers to add them to their own policy as a named driver, knowing full well that the youngster will in reality be the main one driving the insured vehicle. Fronting is a false economy and means the newly-qualified driver won’t start building a no-claims bonus. On the other hand, it’s often perfectly acceptable for an older, more experienced driver to be added as a named driver on a young, newly-qualified driver’s policy
8. Overnight parking: if you currently park your car in the garage during the night and assume that your son or daughter will stick their car on the driveway or even on the road outside the house, think about surrendering the garage, because the young driver’s premium is more likely to be reduced by garaging the vehicle than your own
9. Engine size: this is still one of the main factors that determine the price of young drivers’ car insurance, so it’s far better to stick to cars with small engines for the first few years, many of which fall into insurance group 1
10. Voluntary excess: if you can afford to contribute more money in the unfortunate situation of a claim being made, it’s worthwhile agreeing to a slightly higher voluntary excess, as this should help reduce the young driver’s premium – and hopefully they won’t be involved in a claim anyway!