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 can 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 premium without committing this motoring offence.

What is car insurance fronting?

“Fronting” occurs when someone puts themselves down as the main driver of a car, when in fact a named driver on the policy uses the car more often. It’s a tactic sometimes used by parents looking for a way to reduce eye-wateringly high car insurance premiums for their children.

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. So, in a bid to keep costs down, a parent may be tempted take out a policy on their son or daughter’s car in their own name (as the main driver) and to list their child as a named driver.

Afraid not. It might seem like a clever loophole to keep premiums down for young, inexperienced drivers. But the practice of fronting is illegal in the UK. It’s considered a type of insurance fraud. Plus, it probably goes without saying, it’s forbidden under the terms of car insurance.

How does fronting happen?

Many people who commit fronting don’t realise it’s against the law. Car insurance for young drivers is expensive and, understandably, many parents are keen to help out with costs.

Often, parents help their children out with the purchase cost of a car, and may be the registered keeper. They might even contribute towards insurance costs.

Given these factors, it can be easy for a parent to assume it’s OK to put themselves down as the main driver on a car insurance policy for their child, and add their son or daughter as a named driver. And there’s little doubt that doing so is likely to reduce premiums. But if, in practice, their child drives the car most often, by doing so they will be breaking the law and committing fraud.

Accidental fronting can also take place when two people share a car under a single car insurance policy, and don’t realise how important it is to get the main driver and named driver the right way round.

Of course, there are also occasions when drivers might realise they’re playing fast and loose with the rules, but may not realise how serious the consequences can be.

Example: 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 quoted car insurance premiums are sky-high, so Alex suggests taking out a car insurance policy and putting 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. He and Isla would be best to be honest, and seek alternative ways to trim insurance costs.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

What happens if I am caught fronting?

Insurers are quick to crack down on suspected insurance fraud. Figures from the Association of British Insurers show that 72,600 fraudulent insurance claims worth more than £1 billion were uncovered by insurers in 2022. The majority of these were fraudulent motor insurance claims, including fronting.

It’s just not worth taking the risk of being caught fronting. If you are, it can have serious consequences. These can include:

Non-legal consequences

  • Rejected claims following an accident, meaning you’re left with the full cost of damage to your own car and, potentially, any others involved
  • Cancellation of your insurance policy
  • Difficulty finding a new insurance provider
  • Higher insurance premiums in the future
  • An impact on your credit rating, which could make it difficult to access other financial products such as credit cards.

Legal consequences

  • Possible prosecution for fraud
  • Court summons, often resulting in 6 penalty points on your licence and a potentially unlimited fine
  • A possible driving ban
  • A criminal record.

Who is the “main driver” on a car insurance policy?

Generally, the main driver will be the person who drives the car the most. 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.

What is a “named driver” on a car insurance policy?

A named driver is someone who is added to the main driver’s car insurance policy, usually because they drive the car occasionally. Named drivers get the same level of cover as the main driver of a car.

Can I legally save money by adding a named driver?

Danny Butler

Finder insurance expert Danny Butler answers

Absolutely! Adding an older and more experienced driver to your policy is still permitted, providing they are genuinely a named driver and don’t use the car as much as the main driver.

Premiums might be higher than if the more experienced driver was (illegally) put down as the main driver, but adding a named driver can still substantially lower insurance costs. Plus, means that the younger (main) driver can build up their own no-claims discount, which usually isn’t possible for named drivers. This should result in lower premiums for them in later years.

How can inexperienced drivers legally save on car insurance?

There are several steps less experienced drivers can take to cut car insurance costs without breaking the law.

  • Don’t assume third party cover is cheapest. 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. So, setting the excess too high could leave you out of pocket if your car is damaged.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pick a lower-risk car. New drivers are likely to be better off opting for smaller, lower-powered cars. Try to save your yen for a turbo-charged motor for when you’ve got a few years’ no-claims discount under your belt.
  • Limit modifications. Any modification made to your car to make it look better or drive faster is likely to increase your premium, so think carefully before making any changes.
  • Shop around annually. 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.

Bottom line

Car insurance for young drivers is often expensive. 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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*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, www.consumerintelligence.com (Mar ’24). 51% of car insurance customers could save £539.54

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