When you first arrange insurance for your car you know what to expect. You’ll have to give personal details, along with information about your new car. It’s all straightforward stuff and completed quite quickly. So that’s it, is it?
Well not quite, because there are plenty of things that you need to keep in contact with your insurer about during and at the end of your policy year. During the course of a 12-month contract you take out with an insurance company, there could be any number of changes to your circumstances. And insurance companies like to know about these things – no matter how insignificant they might seem to you.
Moving house, modifying your car, allowing other people to get behind the wheel – these are all important notifications, and not keeping your insurer up to date with events could have a serious impact on your policy. That can result in you not getting the level of compensation you were expecting if anything was to go wrong.
Here is our list of things you should tell your insurer – and when. The cover provider will get all the initial information they need at the time the new policy begins, but these are factors you should share with your underwriter during the policy’s term or, in some cases, at the end when you come to renew.
Whatever happens, being completely transparent and upfront with your insurer is the best way forward. It means everyone knows what’s happening and it ensures you get the right level of cover, should you ever need it.
Notify your insurer as soon as possible about any of these:
1. You’ve been involved in an accident. No matter how big or small or whoever’s fault it was, let the insurer know. You might not even want to claim, but someone else could be planning to do so against you, and your insurer needs to be forewarned. Damage, or repairs to damage, could also affect your car’s value.
2. You sell your car. Hundreds of cars are sold every day and telling your insurer is easily forgotten because you have moved on to new wheels. But you need to sever insurance ties with the old car to avoid being liable for anything that could happen to it later.
3. You’re moving to a new house. This doesn’t appear important at first sight, but different postcodes attract different premiums depending on how much of a risk their area is considered to be, so it’s important to alert your insurer immediately when you move. You never know… your premium might go down. Additionally, the insurer also needs to be able to contact you, so the same goes if you alter your email address or phone number.
4. You change where you park the car at night. Insurers always ask where the car will be left overnight: in a garage, on a driveway or out on the street. There are varying costs for this as the risks are different. But if the insurer thinks your car is safely locked up in a garage and it gets damaged during the night while parked on the road, they won’t look too kindly on that.
5. Your annual mileage changes. More miles means a higher likelihood of an accident or damage so if you find yourself suddenly well up on the miles you agreed with your cover provider, best to let them know. If you don’t, it could nullify your policy and any cover you thought you had.
6. You change your name. It’s simple really. If your name has changed, due to marriage, divorce or any other reason, let the insurer know so that your documents can identify you properly and easily.
7. You change your job. Just like mileage, parking places and what you use your car for, your occupation will attract its own premium. Nurses or midwives for example, historically attracted higher premiums because it was considered their car would be left all day in a hospital car park or out on the road while they were visiting patients. Computer programmers and web designers attract some of the lowest premiums. Insurers put occupation high up the list of details they want to know.
Inform your insurance company before you do any of these:
1. Modify your car. Thinking of adding alloy wheels or a spoiler to your car to improve its looks? Tell your insurer first – you could invalidate your cover if you don’t. The same goes for a respray, an engine power boost or alterations to the car’s suspension set-up. The insurer might not even cover these latest additions but, in any case, a modification could mean an increase in premium.
2. Change your car. It’s the car that’s being insured, so if you change your motor it’s just like starting all over again. Inform the cover provider and negotiate a new price. It might be cheaper than the one you already have.
3. Change the use. If your premium is based on general social use and the commute to work and back, you’ll have to let the insurer know if you suddenly start using your car for deliveries or as a taxi. Some insurers don’t cover all professions, so it’s worth telling them exactly what you do.
4. Let someone else drive. It’s fine to add people as named drivers to your car, but do make sure you do it. Regular users need to be added to the policy or you might not be covered.
5. Change the registration plate. The registration or number plate is the car’s identity. If you are thinking of changing the original marking for a personal one, tell your cover provider.
6. Drive abroad. Motoring in another country can be stressful and can take time to get used to, especially when you’re swapping to the right hand side of the road. You need to make sure you are fully covered for this so let your provider know where you’re going.
Declare these at renewal time:
1. Penalty points. Your driving history has a bearing on the premium you pay – or even whether or not a provider is prepared to insure you at all. If you have received penalty points, you should declare this usually at renewal, although some insurers want to know immediately. And in the rarer event that you have been banned from driving, your insurance will become invalid anyway, so let your provider have the bad news.
2. Claims. Insurers like to know about any claims made for accidents, loss or damage, whether it was your fault or not, and even if the claim was made through a different insurance company. Let them know so it can be recorded.