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How long does a claim stay on your car insurance?

| Insurance

It can sometimes become harder to get car insurance as you get older and you may be worried about rising premiums. However, you should always disclose previous accidents, even if you think that doing so will increase the price of your car insurance. Whether the accident was your fault or the fault of someone else on the road, hiding this information could make your insurance void.

If you’re wondering how long you need to declare an accident for, or what the penalties are for not declaring it, our guide has the information you need.

How long do car accidents affect your insurance for?

Usually, you will need to declare any incident that’s happened in the last five years. For some insurance providers, this could be between three and five years, so it’s best to check. When you’re applying for car insurance, the insurer will tell you the length of time they require information for.

Once this period of time has passed, you no longer need to advise a new insurer of the incident. For example, if you crashed a vehicle in April 2016, you may not need to disclose it from April 2021. In this instance, if your insurance renews every January, you’ll need to take out a policy as normal in January 2021, declaring the accident, but when the policy runs out in January 2022, you would no longer have to disclose it.

Do you have to declare accidents on your car insurance?

For anyone who’s taken out car insurance in the past, you’ll know that there’s a whole host of information that you need to provide. This is so insurers can give you an accurate price. These questions could include how old you are, what your working situation is, where the car is parked most of the time and whether you’ve experienced an accident in the last few years. These are all things that can affect the likelihood of you making a claim, so are factored in when calculating the cost of your premium.

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Accidents have to be disclosed, whether they were your fault or someone else’s and even if you didn’t claim on your insurance at the time. The insurance provider will use this and other information to determine how likely it is that you will make a claim in the future. For example, if you’ve had multiple accidents in five years, you may be considered more likely to claim than someone who hasn’t.

Although declaring these accidents could increase your premium, it’s important to do so, even if it was a named driver operating your car, otherwise your insurance policy might be invalid. If you don’t declare a previous incident, your insurance provider will use the Claims and Underwriting Exchange (CUE) to find out if this information is correct. The CUE is a central database that stores data around car and home claims that you might have made in the past. This is why you should always be honest about previous accidents and never provide misinformation. Doing so could mean future claims are denied, leaving you facing expensive repair bills, increased premiums or a voided policy, which could prevent you obtaining insurance from other companies too.

What happens if you don’t report a car accident?

You may be wondering what the penalties are if you don’t declare a previous accident on your car insurance.

It is an offence to make a false statement about an accident or to withhold any information for the purposes of obtaining a certificate of motor insurance. Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, you must declare any incidents that have occurred within the time period asked.

If your insurance company discovered that you had experienced a car accident in the last three to five years that you hadn’t declared, your policy could be void and they would contact you to let you know that your cover is no longer valid. If you’ve just had an accident, but you aren’t planning to claim on your insurance, you still need to tell your insurer so they can reassess your premium.

If you withhold information from your provider, they may refuse to insure you in the future and you could even be blacklisted, making it almost impossible to get car insurance. This will only happen in more severe cases.

If you’re involved in an accident and you fail to stop at the scene, you could receive up to a £5,000 fine and up to six penalty points.

Options which could reduce your car insurance premium

Downsize your engine

Insurance premiums are usually calculated and based on how likely a car is to be involved in a claim or how expensive the repairs could be. A fast sports car with a large engine, for example, costs more to insure than a small city car because the repairs are likely to cost more.

If you wish to reduce your car insurance premium and are happy to look at buying a new car, you could purchase one with your insurance in mind. Smaller engines, such as a 1.2 litre, will often be cheaper to insure than those with 1.4 litre engine or more. You may also wish to think about the make and model of the car. Vehicles that are most popular with young drivers, such as Vauxhall Corsas, can be more expensive to insure because there are more accidents in these cars than any other, mostly due to driver inexperience. A better option might be a less popular choice, like a Fiat Panda, for example.

Increase vehicle security

One of the questions that might be asked by your insurance provider is ‘does your vehicle have an alarm or immobiliser?’ This is because a car that doesn't have much security could be more at risk of theft.

Most new cars automatically come with alarms, trackers or immobilisers, but if your car doesn't have these things, your insurance could come down after you’ve installed them. Some insurers have a list of approved alarms, so before installing one, make sure that it is rated and approved.

Installing a dashcam is also a good security device, particularly those that start to record when they sense movement, even when parked up.

Install a dashcam

Dashcams are becoming more and more popular as they can sometimes capture evidence that proves whose fault an accident was when there are contradictory versions of events. While they may not directly lower your insurance, it could be helpful in an accident that isn’t your fault or could save you money on fraudulent crashes.

Drivers have been known to quickly come to a stop in the middle of the road in the hopes that another driver will go into the back of them. In this example, having dashcam footage could prove that the other driver caused a crash on purpose.

Increase your voluntary excess

All insurance providers require an excess fee that must be paid to start a claim. The cost can range from £50 to hundreds, but it’s usually not too expensive. If you want to reduce your premium, you can choose to add on a voluntary excess. This is a fee that you would be happy to pay on top of your compulsory excess should you have an accident. Whatever fee you decide, whether it’s £100, £200 or more, you must be able to pay it if you wish to make a claim in the future.

Take the Pass Plus qualification

Pass Plus is an additional driving qualification that you can take at any time. The test includes elements that aren’t covered in standard driving lessons, such as motorway driving and driving at night. Drivers who have taken the course are considered less likely to have an accident, and are therefore seen as lower risk by insurance providers.

Get a black box insurance policy

Some car insurance providers will often reward “safe” drivers with a reduced premium, but how can they tell if you’re a careful driver? A black box can provide your insurer with data about the speeds you drive at, the time of day you’re on the roads and how many miles you’re doing. By proving that you’re a safe driver, you could see a reduction in your insurance.

It’s worth noting that if the data received from the black box is poor or shows that your driving activity could make you more likely to claim in the future, your insurance price could increase upon renewal.

As this article demonstrates, although making a claim on your insurance is sometimes necessary, there are things you can do to try and reduce premiums and most importantly, ensure your safety whilst driving.

Learn more about Age Co and the products we provide. Request an Age Co brochure to find out more!

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