Monday 12 November 2018 Why can’t I add son to our car’s policy?

My son is 19 years old and he started college in September. He stays in Dublin Monday to Friday and comes home most weekends. He would like to be added to our car insurance, even though he may only use the car two-three times a month, but it would be useful to have him insured. My insurance company has told me he cannot be added because he is under 25, but all his friends seem to be driving their parents’ cars on their parents’ policies, so I don’t understand their reasoning. A lot of these kids are on their provisionals, but he has had a full licence since May. The car is nothing fancy, a five-year-old Golf 1.4

Andrew, Co Dublin

Insurers in general are suspicious when parents request their young son or daughter to be added to their policy for fear that the young driver is actually the primary user of the vehicle. It has been the case in the past where parents have done this to get a cheaper premium. This move is ill-advised, and the policy will become null and void in the event of the claim if the insurer investigates and uncovers the true driving situation.

However, your case is different – but unfortunately you are being affected by this practice. Certain insurers have strict rules and will under no circumstances add drivers under 25 years old – this very much sounds like your company, so you will need to change insurer.

You will then need to prove to potential insurers that you are the main user of the car and that your son will only use the car on occasion. This may take a bit of work, but by taking the following steps you will end up with the best deal. Ask your current insurer to confirm in writing that you have been with them for eight years and have had no claims during this time. Also ask them for written confirmation that they have insured the Golf since the purchase date, and get a copy of the VLC to show you have not just bought this car today.

This will help you prove to the potential insurers that the car has not been bought for your son, but has been used by you and you are only changing insurer now because you need to add your son to the policy. Taking expert advice in a situation like this will improve your chances because a broker will have experience in dealing with insurers and so will be able to present your case in such a manner that it appears genuine.

Insurance gap
My home insurance policy expired in the first week of October, which is our own fault as both my wife and I thought the other had dealt with the payment. I have since spoken with the insurance firm to pay the premium and they are now saying they will not renew our policy because we didn’t renew before the expiry date. I have gone online to get quotes but because we had a claim in 2017 for €3,800 and I let this policy expire, no one will quote me. I now feel the legal route with my own insurer is my only option as I have been told they are legally obliged to insure me. I really don’t want to have to take legal action, but is there any simpler way of having this rectified?

Peadar, Co Wexford

In recent years insurers have really tightened up their rules when it comes to accepting home insurance policies. They are now quite strict in their approach to writing policies and unfortunately, having a ‘gap in cover’ is a complete red flag to some insurers – so much so that, as you have experienced, they will refuse a policy on this basis. I think you may have been slightly misinformed as to an insurer’s legal obligations in this type of situation.

It is a common myth that your home insurer must cover you, but there is actually no legal requirement for them to do so.

However, all is not lost. Based on the information you have given and the assumption that there has been no other claims or anything out of the ordinary, then if you go to an insurer that doesn’t have strict ‘gap in cover’ rules and also allow for a claim with the past five years, you should be able to take out a new policy at a reasonable premium.

This combination of insurer might be tricky to find, and you may well be online all day and not find one, but a good broker will get this sorted for you in minutes. Time is of the essence in your case, so my advice is to immediately speak with a broker and you will get cover and the price won’t be as bad as you think.

Winter sports cover
We have unexpectedly been given an opportunity to go, as a family, on a winter ski holiday. However I have checked our family travel insurance policy documents and winter sports is specifically listed as ‘not included’. To buy a new policy with another insurer where winter sports is included is very expensive as I need cover for myself, my husband and three teenagers. Do I have any other options?

June, Co Westmeath

As a first port of call, I suggest you talk to your insurer. Listing cover as ‘not included’, would normally mean that there is an option to include. It may well be the case that you wisely chose at the time of taking out the policy to exclude this cover, as you didn’t think it would be something you would need. Most insurers will allow you to add this cover back into your policy as long as you haven’t started the holiday. This should cost no more than €10- €15 to add onto your policy.

Just one more tip – check what activities are excluded in the policy, like sledging or snowboarding – be very clear about what is covered and not covered especially with teenagers. Enjoy the holiday.

No NCB on company car
I have been employed as an accountant with a large multinational for the past seven years with the full use of a company car but now I am now looking to start my own business. I have been checking various insurance quotes for a new car, but because I don’t have a no claims bonus, the quotes are all coming in at in excess of €1,500. I have always had my own policy and never had a claim. I haven’t had any accidents, or claims or penalty points. Is there anything I can do to get a lower premium?

Brona, Co Louth

Okay, I am going to assume that because you say you had full-time use of this vehicle for the seven years, coupled with the fact that you have had no accidents or claims, my guess is that the insurers you have spoken with do not allow discounts for company vehicle use. The good news is there are insurers that will take into account the driving experience you have, and based on this they will allow you a similar discount to that given to drivers who have a no claims bonus. My advice is to get a letter from your employer stating you have had full-time use of company vehicle and that you have no claims, bring this letter with you to a broker that has access to the insurers I mention above, and you should then see the prices dramatically reduce.

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