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Commuting by car rather than public transport? Tell your insurer

With more Britons returning to work as the Government eases coronavirus pandemic restrictions, motorists are being warned that their insurance premiums could be on the rise if they’re planning to drive to avoid public transport. 

Drivers will need to notify insurers they are using their motors to get to and from work, which will ultimately result in premiums rising.

But costs are set to rise across the board as more people get behind the wheel – especially during rush hour – and the risk of crashes rises in the eyes of insurers.

Post-pandemic premium rise: Motorists intending to commute by car following lockdown will need to notify their insurer - and are likely to see see the cost of their cover increase

Post-pandemic premium rise: Motorists intending to commute by car following lockdown will need to notify their insurer - and are likely to see see the cost of their cover increase

Post-pandemic premium rise: Motorists intending to commute by car following lockdown will need to notify their insurer – and are likely to see see the cost of their cover increase

Ministers have recommended that commuters find alternatives to buses, trains and tubes during the crisis, suggesting cycling or walking where possible and if not using private cars. 

New research from comparison website Compare the Market reveals that 61 per cent of UK drivers expect to commute by car when they return to the workplace post-lockdown.

That compares to a third (34 per cent) who were driving to work before the pandemic, according to a poll of 2,094 UK adults.

This equates to an extra 10.5million cars being used for the daily commute, based on there being 38.9million licence holders in the country. 

Motorists who were not using their own cars to go to and from their jobs before the pandemic will need to swap their insurance to a Social, Domestic, Pleasure and Commuting policy. 

The comparison site warns that this switch to a commuting policy is likely to increase costs.

For example, a 36-year-old man living in West London, who has driven for 19 years and has a Skoda Octavia will pay around £330 for an SDP policy compared to around £350 for an SDP+C policy – a 6 per cent increase.

Example: A 36-year-old man living in West London, who has held a full driving licence for 19 years with a Skoda Octavia (pictured)  and intends to use his vehicle to commute to work can expect to see his premiums rise 6%, the comparison site said

Example: A 36-year-old man living in West London, who has held a full driving licence for 19 years with a Skoda Octavia (pictured)  and intends to use his vehicle to commute to work can expect to see his premiums rise 6%, the comparison site said

Example: A 36-year-old man living in West London, who has held a full driving licence for 19 years with a Skoda Octavia (pictured)  and intends to use his vehicle to commute to work can expect to see his premiums rise 6%, the comparison site said

The proportion of people who will start driving to work in light of the pandemic varies across the country, but is particularly high in Northern Ireland, Wales and the West Midlands. 

In London, almost a third expect they will now drive to work, compared to the fifth who commuted by car before the pandemic. 

However, 45 per cent of Londoners confirm they still plan to use public transport.

WILL YOU BE COMMUTING BY CAR AFTER LOCKDOWN? REGIONAL ANALYSIS 
Region Commuted to work by car before the pandemic Expect to commute by car when returning to work after the pandemic 
Scotland 35% 57% 
North East30%62%
North West36%62%
Yorkshire & Humberside41%72%
West Midlands40%78%
East Midlands41%68%
Wales41%77%
Eastern35%65%
London20%32%
South East37%69%
South West28%56%
Source: Comparethemarket  2,094 UK adults

While those using their cars to commute will likely see costs rise, the impact of their being more drivers on the road as a result of avoiding public transport could see premiums become more expensive across the board. 

Nearly a fifth of households think that they will use their car more than they did prior to the pandemic, according to the comparison sites survey. 

Underwriters are likely to see the rise in traffic, especially during the morning and evening rush hour – as an increased risk of collisions, which could cause motor insurance premiums to rise. 

Premiums could rise across the board as underwriters assume crashes will be more likely if more people are using their cars at rush hour

Premiums could rise across the board as underwriters assume crashes will be more likely if more people are using their cars at rush hour

Premiums could rise across the board as underwriters assume crashes will be more likely if more people are using their cars at rush hour

Dan Hutson, head of motor insurance at Compare the Market, said: ‘The Government is encouraging the UK to get back out to work and to society and, crucially, to avoid public transport where possible. 

‘Cars are so important for keeping us protected from the virus but, at a time when households are already financially stretched, being asked to drive more could have a significant hit on finances.’

Many will be concerned about the rise in insurance premiums coming at a time when household finances are already stretched. 

According to Compare the Market’s financial confidence tracker, 17 per cent households are worried about being able to pay bills and keep on top of finances in the coming months given the ongoing economic hit due to the pandemic. 

This figure rises to nearly a quarter for families with children at home who are also far more reliant on cars, with 22 per cent likely to use their car more than they did pre-lockdown compared to 15 per cent of those without children at home.

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