I have always loved and been fascinated by cars. One of my earliest memories (apart from falling off the sofa aged 2) is being in my bedroom, where I had a rug that had a layout of a town on it, and a wooden toy box full of Matchbox cars that I used to drive everywhere. I could (and did) spend hours lying on the floor, driving my Porsche 911 through the town, and then when I got bored of that, I got out my red Ferrari Dino GTS and took that for a spin instead. I drove my first car when I was 5, on Blackrock Sands in Criccieth; my Dad operating the pedals and me perched on his lap, holding the wheel, commandeering our Rover 820 Si across the beach. Of course, my Dad was always in control, but in my head the roads were opening up in front of me, and the World was mine to explore.
My favourite show on the telly has always been Top Gear. I started watching it back in the mid 90’s- back when it was just 3 ordinary blokes talking about and driving cars for an hour.
When I passed my test on December 12th 2008 aged 18 (a double celebration, because on that day Manchester said no to the Congestion Charge), I had realised my lifetime’s ambition. I could finally get behind the wheel and do what I have always wanted to do- travel wherever I desired. I did what any teenager with a brand new pink plastic pass in my wallet would do, and began the search for my first set of wheels. This is a big milestone in anyone’s life, so I always wanted it to be right, but I wasn’t exactly flush for cash. I had recurring nightmares that I would have to settle for a Mini Metro or something else truly awful, so when I found a Volkswagen Golf on eBay for £500, and a GTi version at that, I thought my luck was in. Before I made any offer, I went onto the internet to see if I could get a quote for insuring my potential new motor. The quote I got still makes me shake my head years after I got it- I can’t remember which company it was, but no matter, I was asked to fork out £19,999. Thank you Mr Banker, no deal.
This was before I was even employed. If you think about it, that’s 40 times the worth of the car, so that means the insurers expect me to write off my car 40 times during the year? I once asked someone in the industry about this, and they said it is based on the value of the car you could possibly hit. It was at this point I said “well, isn’t insurance protecting you against all likelihoods? So why isn’t insurance the cost of the most expensive car you can find on our roads?” I didn’t do this to put an idea into his head, but he was at a loss to explain it. Many frustrating attempts ensued and every avenue was explored, but alas nothing came about.
Actually, it appears I was rather lucky with that quote I received. Some guy called Rhys Barker made the front pages for getting a quote on his Vauxhall Corsa for a staggering £1.2 million! I know that’s a way of the Insurance company saying, “we don’t want your business”, and to be fair, Salford isn’t renowned exactly Mayfair, but the manner in which insurance companies treat young drivers is a scandal.
I for one was fed up of being offered extortionate sums to cover my car as a direct result of my age, despite the fact I have had my licence for near five years now, and never had any points, nor made a claim on my insurance. I was now qualified in my profession, earning a decent wage and living in a decent enough area; it was about time I got a break.
It was completely by chance, and also via a generic irate tweet, that I managed to discover a company called Bought By Many. It was very much in its infancy when I first encountered them, and I was one of the first members to join. At the beginning, it was a collection of other youngsters like me who were despondent about how young drivers are tarred with the ‘boy racer’ reckless brush, regardless of their actual driving technique. Insurance companies tried to convince people that they thought otherwise by offering a telematic ‘black box’, which would be inserted into your car, and the brokers could then monitor your driving style and assess whether or not you were behaving yourself. However, with most of these schemes there are limits as to mileage, and also what time of the day you can use your car, so these really are not the solution we seek.
There are many ways in how to lower your insurance premium. These price comparison sites are very good, and also a good source of laughter at some of the quotes you get offered- it’s either that or you burst into tears, so it’s better to see the funny side of it.
One of them is to add a named driver to your policy who has considerable driving experience, and no convictions. By adding my parents, who each have been driving for over 30 years and no claims extending well into the last Millennium, I managed to save around £500, which is a massive chunk of money that I am grateful is safe in my pocket.
Another one is to raise the voluntary excess should you have an accident, but this would mean paying out considerably should the unfortunate happen. However, there is now a means of getting around this.
It’s called the XS Cover Company, which works by insuring your excess for a small annual fee. The theory being that by increasing your excess, the insurance will be less, but by insuring your excess, you can further protect that so you don’t have a massive initial outlay should you have an accident. So, say you raise your excess to £500, you could insure this amount for £34.99. I did some research, and pretended to be 18 again (oh how I dream), and found that on my car I could save £158 by increasing my excess from £300 to £500. Factor in the excess insurance, and that’s a saving of £123, which isn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things.
My apologies for those of you expecting a satirical article from me, but this is something close to my heart , and something I’m determined to put right if I can in any way. Not all of us youngsters are hooligans who drive everywhere like we just stole our chariots. The insurance companies can judge us if we start having accidents, but the majority of us drive sensibly, because we like to keep ourselves and everyone else on the roads in one piece.
My theory is simple- yes, those starting on their motoring journey won’t be road wise, but better to encourage them to get the experience and drive safely, than try and take them off the road altogether.