Car insurance fronting

What exactly is car insurance fronting? Read our guide to find out and learn how to avoid it.

Naming the wrong person as the main driver on your car insurance policy may be easy to do, but it could land you in hot water. Find out what car insurance “fronting” is all about and how you can still save money on your premiums without committing this motoring offence.

What is car insurance fronting?

“Fronting” occurs when an older, more experienced driver claims to be the main driver of a car when in fact, a younger, less experienced driver is. It’s a practice sometimes used by parents looking for a way to reduce eye-wateringly high car insurance premiums for their offspring.

Insurers view younger, inexperienced drivers as high risk and more likely to be involved in an accident. As such, the cost of their car insurance is often much higher. In a bid to keep costs down, parents may be tempted to list their son/daughter as a named driver on a car insurance policy even though their son/daughter is actually the main driver.

However, this practice is illegal in the UK and is considered a type of insurance fraud. Data from fraud prevention service Cifas shows that fronting is now the most common type of fraud in the UK, with 4 in 10 Brits regarding the offence as “reasonable”.

What happens if I am caught fronting?

Insurers are cracking down on insurance cheats in an effort to protect honest customers. Figures from the Association of British Insurers show that 107,000 fraudulent insurance claims worth £1.2 billion were uncovered by insurers in 2019.

This means that if you get caught fronting, it can have serious consequences. Penalties can include:

  • Cancellation of your insurance policy
  • Rejected claims following an accident
  • Possible prosecution for fraud
  • Court summons, often resulting in a fine of up to £5,000 plus 6 penalty points on your licence
  • Criminal conviction
  • Difficulty finding a new insurance provider
  • Higher insurance premiums in the future
  • Difficulty accessing other financial products such as credit cards

Why does fronting happen?

Many people who commit fronting do not realise it’s illegal. Car insurance for young drivers is expensive and, understandably, many parents are keen to help out with costs.

It can be easy for a parent to put themselves down as the main driver on a car insurance policy for their offspring, and it can be an effective way of reducing premiums. But by doing so, they and their children will be breaking the law and committing fraud.

Who is the “main driver”?

An insurer will have its own guidelines about who it deems to be the vehicle’s main driver. But generally, the main driver will be the person who drives the car the most. In some cases it can also be the person who owns the car. If you’re not sure, always contact your insurer to ask.

When deciding who the main driver of a car is, it’s important to think carefully about how a car is shared between the drivers and who does the majority of the driving. It might be:

  • The person using the car every day
  • The person using the car for commuting to work or college
  • The person using the car for more hours than any other driver
  • The person using the car to drive more miles

The long-term implications of fronting

As well as getting on the wrong side of the law, there are other reasons to avoid fronting. For a start, most insurers will not allow named drivers to build up their own no claims discount. This means if you’ve committed fronting, younger drivers can find it harder to get cheaper car insurance when they eventually buy their own policy – even if they have a few years’ driving experience under their belt.

Secondly, the main driver may also lose their no claims bonus in the event of an accident, even if they have not driven the vehicle.

How to save on your car insurance legally

There are several steps you can take to cut your car insurance costs without breaking the law.

  • Choose a cover level that suits you. Contrary to what you might expect, comprehensive cover can be cheaper than third party (TP) or third party, fire and theft so it’s always worth checking. This is because motorists who take out third party cover typically have a higher risk profile and insurers have adjusted the cost as a result.
  • Increase the excess. Agreeing to pay a larger voluntary excess could make your overall premium cheaper. But remember that your insurer won’t pay out for a claim that costs less than your excess. Be careful about making it too high, as it could leave you out of pocket if damage occurs and the excess may not be affordable.
  • Add a named driver. Adding an older and more experienced driver to your policy is still permitted, providing they are a named driver and only use the car occasionally. This can help lower insurance costs and also allow the younger driver to build up their own no claims discount.
  • Consider telematics insurance. Having a “black box” fitted to your car to monitor your driving could result in discounts if you drive safely.
  • Advanced driving skills. You could be in line for a discount with certain providers by taking an advanced driving course such as those offered by the Pass Plus scheme.
  • Shop around. Resist the temptation to automatically renew your car insurance after a year as you could end up paying more than you need to. Shop around and compare your options to find the best deal. Keep in mind that the cheapest policy isn’t always the best policy so check the cover details carefully.

Other tips to reduce your car insurance costs

As well as the above, you may be able to reduce your insurance costs by taking the following steps:

  • Limit optional extras if you don’t need them. Think carefully about which optional extras you really want, as adding extra protection to your policy will generally push the price up.
  • Consider pay-as-you-drive insurance. If you don’t plan to drive regularly, look for a pay-as-you-drive insurance policy.
  • Avoid making claims. Resist the urge to make claims just because you can. Making a claim could save you money in the short term, but would affect any no claims bonus you may have and mark you as a risky driver, which increases your premiums.
  • Pick a smaller car. Buy a smaller, less expensive car rather than a sports model or highly modified vehicle.
  • Limit modifications. Any modification made to your car to make it look better or drive faster is likely to increase your premiums, so think carefully before making any changes.

Case study examples: Accidental vs deliberate fronting

Accidental fronting

Steph and Andrew are married and share a car. Steph is listed as the main driver on the car insurance policy as she used to drive the car to work and back every day. However, since she started working from home, Andrew now uses the car more often. As he is still listed as a named driver on the insurance policy, they are now committing fronting without realising.
To ensure they won’t be penalised, the couple should update their policy to state that Andrew is now the main driver.

Deliberate fronting

Alex’s daughter Isla has just passed her driving test and Alex has bought her a car. Isla’s car insurance costs are sky-high so Alex suggests taking out a car insurance policy and declaring himself as the main driver to cut costs. He knows this isn’t strictly permitted but plans to drive the car from time to time and sees it as a loophole he can exploit.

However, Alex is committing insurance fraud and could face serious penalties if he gets caught.

Bottom line

Car insurance for young drivers is often expensive and fronting can seem an easy way to help reduce those costs. However, fronting is illegal and if you get caught the penalties can be severe. A criminal conviction is simply not worth the money saved and there are plenty of ways you can reduce the cost of car insurance without resorting to fronting.

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