41% of parents are doing it - are you one of them?
There's no two ways about it, learning to drive is expensive. Lessons are costly (but undoubtedly necessary), a new car is a big outlay (even if you go for an old banger) and road tax is the icing on the not-so-tasty cake; but it's your first insurance policy that will really sting you.
Some young drivers find that their car insurance is so expensive that it makes getting on the road almost impossible. Insurers don't do this maliciously, it's all down to the statistical risk calculations that they use, but knowing this doesn't make it any easier if you're trying to find affordable car insurance for yourself, or for your children. This is where the problems start.
You're probably aware that car insurance is a legal requirement, so letting your children loose on the road without it is likely to be something that you wouldn't even consider. But despite this it's possible (and if the statistics* are anything to go by, quite likely) that you're making a very common mistake that could land both of you in serious trouble.
As many parents have discovered, insuring yourself as the main driver of your son or daughter's car and listing them as a named driver can be a good way to cut the cost of cover, sometimes significantly. After all, they are still insured to drive the car but the insurance costs less, surely it's a win, win situation....
Unfortunately not; this practice, known as fronting, is illegal, classed as fraud and could land both you and your child in some very hot water.
Fronting is when an older, more experienced driver insurers themselves as a car's main driver when it is in fact a younger driver with less experience who uses the vehicle most of the time, the latter only being listed on the policy as a named driver.
It may sound harmless but if you're caught then the repercussions are severe. If your insurance company discover that you and your child are fronting you will both:
Find yourself uninsured: Once an insurer discovers you're fronting any insurance you have with them will be immediately invalidated. They're also likely to share this information with other insurance companies and agencies so the cover you have in place on your own car may be reviewed too.
Find it almost impossible to get cover: Once you have fronting in your driving history both you and your child will find it a lot more difficult to get car insurance. If you do find an insurer willing to overlook your misdemeanor, your premiums are likely to be through the roof.
Find yourself paying for damage: Any claims that either you, your son or daughter have placed on the insurance policy will be cancelled. This means that you'll be left forking out to cover the cost of damage to your/their own car as well as any damage to third party property, persons and other belongings. Depending on the claim, the bill could be astronomical.
Find yourself facing prosecution: Both you and your child will come a cropper here. As the original insurance policy will have been cancelled, your child may find themselves prosecuted for driving without cover. What's more, as you both deliberately mislead the insurance company about who was using the car, you could also be prosecuted for fraud. If you're lucky you may just get points on your licence and a fine, but if you're not then the consequences could be far more serious.
If you've insured yourself as the main driver on a car that your child mainly uses without realising you were doing anything wrong, it's a good idea to update the insurance policy as soon as possible. Simply tell the insurer that your child is now going to be the car's main driver and that you want to be listed as a named driver instead (this should still help to keep the cost down).
It's likely that you will need to pay more but given the insurance industry are having a crack down on fronting, it's a far safer, and ultimately cheaper option than the alternative.
If you're finding it a struggle to get affordable car insurance for your child then you should read this article for some practical (and legal!) suggestions that should help.
*Research by Co-operative Insurance found that 41% of parents surveyed were fronting motor insurance for their children at present and 61% would consider doing it in the future.