How to check your vehicle’s car insurance claim history

Find out how to check your vehicle's insurance claims history, and its effect on the cost of your premium.

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Every time you get a new car insurance quote, one of the questions you’ll be asked is whether you’ve made any claims in the last 5 years or so. If your memory is a bit foggy about exactly when you made a claim and therefore whether you need to declare it, it’s worth double checking the details. In this guide, we explain how to check your vehicle’s car insurance claim history.

What is a car insurance claim?

A car insurance claim is recorded when someone contacts an insurer to report an incident and, importantly, requests compensation. This might be for damage to a car (or the personal belongings held within it) or injury to a person or people.

The size of claims can be small (a dented bumper or cracked windscreen, for example) or big (a complete car write-off).

What’s meant by my car insurance claims history?

Your claims history is a record of every car insurance claim you have made on your policy in the past. When you purchase a new car insurance policy, you’ll typically be required to provide details about you and your car. This will include information about any previous claims you’ve made within a certain time period.

If it has been a while since you made a claim and you can’t quite remember the dates or details, there are ways to check your claims history.

What different types of car insurance claim are there?

Car insurance claims break down into 2 broad types:

  • Non-fault claims. These are claims when you were involved in an accident but the other driver accepts the full blame. In these cases, while you will need to let your own insurer know, the claim will usually be made against the other person’s insurance. This means your own insurer won’t need to pay out.
  • Fault claims. These include any claims where you were fully or partially responsible for an incident. In these cases your insurer will have to pay out at least a certain amount for the cost of any damages. If you were completely to blame, they will be liable for the full cost of third-party damages too. And, contrary to what you might expect from the name, fault claims also include claims where you weren’t to blame, but your insurer still has to pay out.

Examples of where your claim might be a “fault claim” even though you are blameless include, for example, the driver at fault being uninsured or untraceable after hitting your car and driving off. They could also include theft or fire damage claims.

How can I check my car insurance claims history?

You have a couple of options for checking your car insurance claims history.

  • Ask your insurer. The easiest option is to request your claims history directly from your current car insurance provider. Your provider should be able to provide you with key information relating to any claims, such as the dates of claims, the types of claims, the settlement amounts or pay-outs and any injuries claimed as well as any other details.
  • Check the Claims and Underwriting Exchange (CUE) database. If, for some reason, your insurance provider is unable to provide you with any details relating to your claims history, this provides you with an alternative option. It’s a register run by the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) of all claims made in the UK relating to home, personal injury, travel and motor insurance. While it’s primarily used by insurance providers, individuals can also request access to information about their own claims history. You can request your report on the MIB website.

How long do car insurance claims stay on my record?

CUE stores records of claims you’ve made for 6 years from the date a claim is closed.

However, most insurers only ask about the details of claims made over the last 5 years. You only need to tell them about claims they specifically ask about. So if they happen to ask about the last 3 years, that’s all you need to disclose. Similarly, if they ask for 6 years worth of claims history, you’ll need to give them this information.

Does making a claim affect my car insurance premium?

Probably, yes. Insurance providers look at several factors when calculating your insurance premium including your claims history. If you’ve made a claim (or claims) on your car insurance within the last few years, you will need to disclose it to an insurer when you get a quote.

It’s important to be honest. Details of the claim will also be recorded within the CUE database, so the insurer will be able to check what you’ve told them is true.

If you’ve made a claim then you may be seen as a higher risk. Your premium is likely to increase as a result. Even if it’s a no-fault claim, your premium may still go up. Let’s say, for example, your parked car was hit by another driver and you’re able to claim on their insurance. Your own insurer may still see you as higher risk. They might assume that you regularly park on busy roads, and are at increased risk of being hit again.

How much your premium will be impacted will depend on the nature of the claim and how many you’ve made. If you’ve made several fault claims in the last 5 years, for example, your premium will probably rise a fair bit. If, on the other hand, you’ve only claimed for a chipped or cracked windscreen, this may not affect your premium at all.

Do I have to claim on my car insurance following an incident?

Not necessarily. If the damage is fairly minor (that dented bumper we mentioned, for example), you may choose to pay for repairs yourself. This might be the practical choice if the cost of repairs is lower than your car insurance excess.

However, even if you don’t claim, you still need to tell your insurer about all incidents (big and small). Failure to do so could invalidate your policy if it later finds out. For example, another driver involved in the incident could decide to make a claim against you (even if they initially said they wouldn’t). Or the previous repair could show up if you later make a claim for more extensive damage.

Unfortunately, simply having been involved in a minor accident in the first place could see your premium rise. It probably won’t be by as much as if you also make a claim, though.

What is a no-claims bonus?

A car insurance no-claims bonus, or no-claims discount, is a percentage discount on your underlying car insurance premium. For every full year you hold a car insurance policy without making a claim, the percentage will increase, up to a maximum. The maximum number of no-claims years you can accrue, and the discount this will get you, varies by insurer.

Does making a car insurance claim affect my no-claims bonus?

It depends. Typically:

  • If you make a no-fault claim, this won’t affect your no-claims bonus.
  • If you make a fault claim, this may affect your no-claims bonus.

However, if you make a fault claim, there are a couple of get-out-clauses that might mean your no-claims discount is unaffected.

Firstly, many insurers won’t reduce your no-claims bonus for certain types of claim. These can include accidents where your insurer had to pay out because the driver responsible was uninsured.

Secondly, if you’ve got no-claims bonus protection, an optional extra that you can add to your policy, you can typically make 1 or 2 fault claims in a year without it affecting your discount.

Bear in mind that a protected discount won’t guarantee that your underlying premium won’t rise as a result of a claim.

How can I check how many years of no-claims bonus I have?

It should be stated on your policy documents. If it’s not clear, or you can’t find your policy documents, just get in touch with your current insurer to ask.

The number of no-claims years will also be shown on your annual renewal letter. If you switch insurer, your new provider will ask you about your no-claims bonus years to help set your premium. It may ask for proof (such as the renewal letter).

How can I improve my no-claims bonus if I have previous claims?

The answer to this is pretty simple. Drive safely to reduce your risk of making any further fault claims. Unless your bonus is protected, making a fault claim will affect your level of no-claims discount (and your premium) when you come to renew. But it won’t affect your ability to build up years again in the future.

Even if your years of no-claims bonus have been completely wiped out, just a year of claim-free driving from that point can cut subsequent premiums substantially.

Do car insurance companies check my no-claims record?

Almost certainly. So don’t take a guess at your no-claims discount if you’re not sure. Insurers can check the CUE database to see the last 6 years of claims for any insured car. If you say you have more claim years than this (or sometimes even if you don’t), they may ask to see proof, such as your renewal notice from your previous insurer. This should state the level of no-claims bonus you have built up.

If you don’t provide this proof on request, often within a certain time limit, your policy could be cancelled. This would leave you uninsured, which is a very bad idea.

Can someone claim on my car insurance without me knowing?

It’s pretty unlikely.

Firstly, when you have an accident, you’ll be expected to exchange insurance details with any other drivers involved. It’s tricky, though not impossible, to make a claim on someone else’s insurance without these details. And if you were at fault, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if they then make a claim against you.

There may be occasions where another driver said at the scene that they didn’t plan to claim, but then does. Or where they try to make a claim even though you weren’t (in your opinion at least) at fault. But if they do so, your insurer will almost certainly contact you about it immediately. It will want to hear your side of the story so it can investigate who was actually at fault.

How can I save money on car insurance if I have previous claims?

If the valuable no-claims discount that’s been helping you keep costs down has been reduced or wiped out, there are other tactics you can employ.

  • Improve security. If your car is not currently fitted with an alarm, think about adding one to reduce your premium. And park in a secure location, such as a garage or private driveway, if you can.
  • Limit your mileage. If you start working part-time or your long commute becomes much shorter, let your insurer know about any reduction in your mileage. It could result in cheaper insurance.
  • Increase your excess. Agreeing to pay a bigger 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 be careful about making it too high, as it could leave you out of pocket if damage occurs.
  • Add experienced drivers. Adding an older and more experienced driver to your policy as a named driver could help to lower the premium.
  • Limit optional extras if you don’t need them. Think carefully about which optional extras you really want. Adding extra protection to your policy will generally push the price up too.
  • 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.
  • Avoid paying monthly. If you can, try to pay for your premium in one go as you’ll pay interest if the premium is spread out over the year.
  • Limit modifications. Any non-security modifications made to your car to make it look better or drive faster are likely to increase your premium.
  • Consider telematics insurance. Having a “black box” fitted to your car to monitor your driving could result in discounts if you drive carefully.
  • Shop around. Don’t simply choose to renew your car insurance when it’s up for renewal 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.

Can I check a car’s history of accidents from before I owned it?

Danny Butler

Finder insurance expert Danny Butler answers

If you’re thinking of buying a used car, you may want reassurance that the seller’s promise of an incident-free history is genuine.

Any claims previous owners have made won’t affect your own insurance premium. But if a car has been involved in crashes in the past, this could impact its safety and performance, and internal damage can be hard to spot.

You won’t be able to use the CUE database to check claims made by other people, as you can only ask for details about your own claims history. But reputable sellers should be able to give you a full, documented history of any previous accidents and the original handbook to match.

If you have any suspicions that they’re fudging or omitting crucial information, run the car through the DVLA’s free Vehicle Information Checker. You’ll need the registration number to do so. This won’t necessarily give you all the details of accidents, but it will help you find out if other information about the car matches up with what the seller is telling you.

If you still have concerns, but are otherwise keen on the car, you can ask a reputable garage to carry out an independent check. The Motor Ombudsman can help you find one that’s passed its Code of Practice.

Bottom line

Being in the know about your car’s claims history can help prepare you for what to expect when your car insurance renewal rolls round. If the precise details of a claim have slipped your mind and you want to switch provider, checking with your existing insurer or putting in a request to CUE can make sure you don’t end up fibbing by accident. Even if a history of claims has bumped up your car insurance premium, there are still plenty of ways to keep costs down.

Frequently asked questions

*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, (Mar ’24). 51% of car insurance customers could save £539.54
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