JOHANNESBURG - Drivers applying for insurance for the first time are at a disadvantage when it comes to their age. According to Christelle Colman, an executive for Hi-Net-Worth Solutions at Old Mutual Insure, young drivers pay much higher premiums due to their risk profiles.

“Age is definitely a factor when you apply for motor insurance for the first time,” said Colman.

“Transferring insurance from a parent’s policy to a child of 18 or 19 can almost quadruple the premium, and could even cost as much as the car repayment.”

Here are some things you should keep in mind:

* The excess is affected by age. Not only do young drivers pay higher premiums, but their excess is higher when there’s a claim. However, Colman advises parents and young drivers not to withhold any information from their insurance companies in an effort to lower their premiums.

* Non-disclosure can be more expensive in the end. Adding a car to your policy and telling your insurance company that you are driving it, whereas in fact your child of 18 or 19 years is going to be the one behind the wheel, could put you in serious trouble should there be an accident. If your insurance company finds out that you withheld information, they would have every right to reject your claim.

“The reality is there is a high probability your child could have an accident,” said Colman. “Data has shown us that this is the time they have accidents; they are young, they are inexperienced. Boys are much more reckless drivers at this age, specifically, with data showing us they are involved in more frequent accidents with a higher severity.”

* Education is key for new drivers.Colman advises parents to sit down with their children to talk about insurance and how it works. Following the rules of the road is as important as understanding the rules of their insurance policy, such as not allowing someone to drive their car if they are not listed as one of the drivers.

“You can be financially ruined if your child writes off their vehicle and is found to have been speeding or driving recklessly. In addition, you could be responsible not just for the loss of your vehicle, but imagine if your child drove into a 7 Series BMW, for example. You would be responsible for millions of rands worth of damage.”

* Understand the policy restrictions. When a motor insurance policy stipulates that cover is only provided for specific named drivers, an insurance claim will only be successful if these drivers were behind the wheel at the time of the incident.

“A situation that often occurs is parents listing themselves as the regular driver for their children’s car, in order to avoid the increased premium and higher excesses due to the high risk profile of the young drivers,” said Colman.

This is a dangerous approach to take, as despite saving through lower premiums, claims may very well be rejected if the child was driving the vehicle at the time of an accident.

Also ensure young drivers are fully alerted to named driver clauses on policies, to ensure they don’t let their friends drive the vehicle if not listed as a driver.

“Insurance claims are settled in good faith. It’s about being honest with your insurer and disclosing the correct information upfront, because then you’ve got nothing to worry about,” said Colman. 

PERSONAL FINANCE