Tag Archives | car insurance

Rules for stand-in tuition

As a learner driver, you’re encouraged to practice your new skills between the lessons with your qualified instructor or before starting an intensive course. This usually involves supervision by a friend of family member, but have you checked that your stand-in instructor meets the required rules to accompany you? They must be over the age of 21 and qualified to drive the type of vehicle being driven by you. For example, they must hold a manual driving licence if they’re supervising you in a manual car. In addition, they must have held a full licence for three years from the UK, the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. Importantly, your supervisor must have valid insurance if they’re supervising in your car. This could be as a named driver/instructor on your learner driver’s policy. Whether you are learning in your car or your supervisor’s, you must both be insured to drive it. Some insurance companies require the person supervising you to be over 25. Take note that you can’t pay your stand-in instructor, and as they’re legally in charge of the vehicle while you are driving, can be prosecuted for using a mobile phone. Although it is legal to carry passengers, it’s best to avoid distractions at this stage. As a learner, your car must display L plates on the front and rear, and you must hold a provisional driving licence for Great Britain or Northern Ireland and be 17. While you might be tempted to practice on a motorway, don’t as you can only do this with your approved driving instructor in a car fitted with dual controls.

Keep your licence safe

With a replacement driving licence costing £20, drivers wasted close to £19 million last year by forking out on new motoring IDs due to misplaced or damaged licences. As 80 per cent of motorists carry their plastic card with them every day, the advice from the DVLA is to leave your licence safe at home. You don’t need to carry it with you at all times as it’s not a legal requirement, simply keep it filed in a safe place as you need it to prove you can drive. If you’re stopped by the police, an officer can ask to see your driving licence, insurance certificate and MOT certificate. If you don’t have these documents with you, you have seven days to take them to a police station. You’re only breaking the law if you don’t show the requested documents within the allocated seven-day period.

Tips to cut insurance

Renewing your policy early can be a smart move. With some insurers, you can buy cover 30 days ahead of the renewal date, and this can make a saving compared with buying the day before. This is because some insurers view organised people as more risk averse, and therefore less likely to take a chance behind the wheel – or miss a premium. Note that while paying for your insurance in monthly instalments may help spread the cost, it often works out more expensive than paying in one go upfront as insurers treat your premiums as a high-interest loan.

Again, consider your job title when you apply. You may want to tweak it because job descriptions are important and determine how risky an insurer will view you. An illustrator will often get cheaper car insurance than an artist. The same goes for an editor rather than a journalist and a PA rather than a secretary. Protecting your car from theft by fitting a car alarm or immobiliser can also bring down costs and if possible, try to park in a garage or driveway rather than on the road. Insurers look kindly on this.

Don’t be distracted

When you’re driving, any additional activity will put added pressure on you. As a result you may become less observant and less likely to anticipate hazards as you pay attention to a second activity. The main culprits are: texting, using a mobile, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading including maps, using a navigation system, adjusting a radio, CD or MP3 player. Texting is particularly disturbing because messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention. Sending or receiving a text takes your eyes from the road for an average of five seconds. At 50 mph that’s driving length of a football pitch. Remember, the journey is why you are in the car.

Parking sensors or good judgement?

Parking is the Achilles’ heel for many drivers, but are parking sensors a substitute for your own good judgement?

There are three types of sensor: ultrasonic, electromagnetic and rear facing cameras. Ultrasonic sensors use sound waves to detect vehicles or objects around your car. However, these can miss smaller objects such as posts or bollards so if you don’t look behind you and check your mirrors you can still end up damaging your car.

Electromagnetic parking sensors create an electromagnetic field around the car which detects any hazards that enters this field. Although they have a wider field of detection, they will only register objects once your car is moving.

Rear facing parking cameras usually switch on automatically when you put the car in reverse. However, their view can be limited at night, in low visibility conditions and cameras can get dirty which further limits the picture.

Fortunately, the expense of fitting one of these systems to help you park better is usually offset by a reduction in your insurance with premiums reduced by around 13 per cent.

While these aids undoubtedly make parking easier and safer, it’s important they are seen as aids to, not replacements for, your own judgement. You should still use your mirrors and your experience to make the final call.

Why it’s not a good idea to lend your car

Lending your car to a friend or relative may seem a nice thing to do, but could end up landing you both in court with a £5,000 fine and up to 8 penalty points. Many people assume that their friends and family are insured to drive their vehicle on the owner’s car insurance policy when it is not always true.

Many policies offer no cover for vehicles other than the main vehicle insured. In some cases, your own insurance will provide third party cover for another vehicle (if you have the owner’s permission) but even this is a huge risk. Although you are legally covered, if the car is involved in an accident that is your fault, there will be no payout to compensate the owner of the vehicle you have borrowed.

Lending your car to a friend safely and legally is easy. Just add an additional driver to your car insurance permanently or for a short period to cover a holiday or special event. It takes a few minutes and costs less than you think, especially when you compare it to a fine, points on your licence and potential loss of your vehicle.