What Is Car Insurance Fronting And Is It Illegal?
03 October 2017
We know that finding cheap car insurance for a new driver can be a challenge, particularly if you’re a young or first-time driver in Northern Ireland, and many motorists will be keen to try their best to cut costs.
But large numbers of drivers are falling victim to ‘fronting’, which is currently one of the biggest problems facing insurers and motorists alike and which can have serious, far-reaching consequences for those caught out – whether unwittingly or not.
In this article we explain what fronting is, why it matters and some of the best ways to effectively cut the cost of your car insurance without ending up on the wrong side of the law.
What does fronting mean?
Fronting is best defined as when a person insures a car or other vehicle in their own name but isn’t the one doing the majority of the driving.
When you apply for car insurance, you’re required to name the main driver on the policy. Usually, this is the person who owns the vehicle, drives it the most often and is responsible for day-to-day maintenance and upkeep.
The reason for this is that insurers take into account the age, experience and profession of the main driver in order to calculate risk and therefore the overall cost of the insurance premium. However, if the person using the vehicle most isn’t the same person named as the main driver on the policy, that counts as fronting.
Why do people commit fronting?
Fronting most commonly happens when people try to get cheaper car insurance by naming an older or more experienced motorist as the main driver of someone else’s vehicle.
For example, parents could buy their newly-qualified child a car but take the policy out in one of their own names in order to achieve a cheaper premium. However, if the child uses the car more regularly than their parents then they would be defined as the main driver and should be named as such.
It should be noted that fronting shouldn’t be confused with adding named drivers to an existing policy: for example, if parents add their child as a named driver to their own insurance for their own car. This is perfectly fine and a common way to get young drivers on the road at an affordable rate.
Many drivers will admit it can be confusing and it’s estimated that as many as 17% of otherwise well-meaning parents are unintentionally fronting their child’s car, but unfortunately good intentions rarely make for good excuses and fronting is an offence.
Is fronting illegal?
Fronting is illegal. The reason it’s so serious is that fronting is a type of insurance fraud and is therefore considered a criminal offence. The consequences of fronting can include drivers having their policies immediately cancelled, and in the event that they try to make a claim their insurer will likely refuse to pay out and will recover the cost of any third-party claims from the policyholder personally.
If that wasn’t bad enough, fronting could also see those involved being found guilty of driving without insurance, which will likely result in a £5,000 fine, up to eight penalty points and even an outright driving ban in addition to more expensive insurance costs in the future.
In a worst-case scenario, drivers could end up prosecuted for driving without insurance or for fraud, which could result in imprisonment, higher insurance premiums for years to come and will also make it much more difficult to access other financial products like credit cards and mortgages.
What can I do to prevent fronting?
Sometimes, as in the earlier examples, fronting can be easy to define but it isn’t always that straightforward. For instance, if you’ve bought a car with a spouse or partner and you both drive it for roughly the same amount of time, who is the main driver? How do you avoid fronting?
A couple of ways that you can define who the main driver is to work out who drives it the most often outside of work or study commitments, or who is responsible for keeping the car in good condition and sorting out repairs, scheduled services or MOT tests.
However, if you’re in any doubt as to who should be named as the main driver on your vehicle then it’s best getting in touch with your insurance provider and asking directly. Insurance company staff are trained to identify when and how fronting may be taking place and it’s much better to avoid the risk, however small it may be, than to get caught out.
So how do I get cheaper car insurance?
Honesty is the best policy, so they say. Or rather, honesty will get you the best policy and one that doesn’t leave you at risk of breaking the law. Fear not as well, as while we know that even though young driver insurance in Northern Ireland can be expensive there are still plenty of ways to effectively and legitimately save money on your car insurance.
One of the best ways for young drivers to reduce the cost of their car insurance is via telematics insurance like ChilliDrive. ChilliDrive records your driving behaviour via a smartphone app and a small Bluetooth beacon which sits inside your car, and can offer significant up-front discounts to young drivers compared to more traditional insurance policies.
If you’d like to find out more about the ChilliDrive policy, how it works and whether it might be right for you, head on over to the ChilliDrive website.