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Monday 24 July 2017

Can I use a women's car insurance broker to get a cheaper quote for my son?

All insurers are obliged to offer insurance to both men and women of all ages (stock picture)
All insurers are obliged to offer insurance to both men and women of all ages (stock picture)

Jonathan Hehir

Question: My 25-year-old son has been insured on my own car since he was 21, and recently bought his own, a 2009 Seat Ibiza. We've shopped around for quotes but are still being quoted prices as high as €3,000 for his car insurance - even though he's never made a claim or had any accidents.

A friend told me to try a women's car insurer to see if it will help him get a lower quote. I didn't know you could do this, do you think it might help him get cheaper cover?

Tom, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath

Answer: Your friend is correct. All insurers are obliged to offer insurance to both men and women of all ages. Some insurers "choose" the profile of people to whom they want to sell policies and, as such, they make premiums for those who do not meet certain criteria prohibitively high. However, not all insurers do this and if your son has a full licence, no penalty points and full NCT then he may well be able to get a better deal.

A European-wide gender directive introduced a couple of years ago means that prices for men and women have to be the same. So, with that in mind, your son would probably be more successful in getting a lower quote if he focused on using a specialist insurance broker that specialises in young drivers.

Car insurance premiums have been rising steadily for the last 24 months and quotes for young male drivers have been hit the hardest.

Three grand is very steep, so I would be confident that if your son were to go to a specialist insurer he would definitely save some money. There are also a few things your son might look into to try to reduce his premium, including getting a full driving licence, not picking up any penalty points, and choosing a car with an engine size of less than 1.5 litres.

Question: Every June we take our family holiday in Malaga in Spain. Up to now my wife and I have never taken out travel insurance. We've never needed it and there are always a million and one things to do before going away that seem more important. But last year, friends of ours had a holiday from hell and have been telling us ever since to make sure we get covered. I've seen online that I can pick up insurance up to a day or two before leaving, but I'm wondering if it will save me money to buy insurance when I book the trip?

Sean, Dungarvan, Co Waterford

Answer: Well, I have to say I think you have been very lucky that you have never had to make a claim, because not having travel insurance in the event of an injury or other adverse situation when on holidays can be financially crippling. There are a myriad of situations that might require travel insurance that can cost you hundreds to thousands. If you don't have insurance to cover these, you may well find yourself in a very precarious financial predicament.

In terms of when you buy the insurance - whether it's the day you book or the day you leave, the price will be the same. However, if you take out holiday cover at the same time as booking insurance then you will benefit in two ways. Firstly, you won't be running the risk of forgetting to take out the cover before you leave and secondly - and more importantly - your cover will kick in straight away. So if, like a lot of claimants, you need to cancel your holiday for a particular reason, you will be covered for this and will receive some - if not all - of your money back.

I really can't stress enough the importance of buying travel cover on the day of booking a holiday. People often plan holidays months and months in advance and it's impossible to foresee what will happen between the time you book and the time you leave for your trip, so it makes so much sense to protect yourself from something that may force you to cancel your holiday.

Question: My husband and I are booked to go on a cruise in August and I have been looking at buying travel insurance. One of the questions insurers have been asking is if one of us has ever cancelled a holiday due to illness. We had to do this in one year, but that was over nine years ago and the condition has since cleared up. Do I still have to declare this, even though the condition has gone? I'm afraid that declaring this will significantly increase the fee, and I'm reluctant to pay if I don't need to.

Aideen, Cabra, Dublin 7

Answer: In short, you must be up-front and honest in all your communications with insurers. So, even though the claim was almost a decade ago, unless the insurer specifies the period of time it's referring to, then you must declare. The likelihood of this making a material difference to your premium is negligible, but the risk that you run if you don't disclose the historic claim could have much greater financial implications - an insurer would be within their rights to turn down a claim due to misinformation on an application form.

Reading the terms and conditions of an insurance policy application form is so important. Unfortunately, not everyone does this. In your case, the T&Cs might specify whether the insurer is referring to any claim made in a particular time frame. For example, many insurers will only want to know if you've claimed in the last five years, while some will want to know if you have ever claimed.

My advice to anyone would be check the terms and conditions but, if you're still in doubt, ring the insurer and they'll be able to give you a definitive answer.

Question: I read an article in the paper recently about home insurance for renters, something I've never considered before even though I can see that it does make sense for long-term renters such as me. I've been renting for about 15 years. I don't see myself being able to afford to buy any time soon, as prices have soared in Cork city. I have no plans for home ownership in the medium term. I'm wondering how cover would work in the case of a rental property, and if it's possible to get cover for my own contents?

Donal, Cork city

Answer: You are flagging an issue that is affecting thousands of individuals and families across the country.

While previously renting had been viewed as the preserve of students and younger workers, we are seeing a greater shift in the profile of people renting. People in long-term rental accommodation are leaving themselves open to a financial shock if they do not have the necessary cover in place. Our experience has shown that people are largely not aware that, as tenants, they need their own insurance and that in the event of loss, they won't be covered by the policy their landlord may or may not have in place.

The longer you rent, the more possessions you accumulate. If these items are valuable then it's very much worth your while getting them insured. The cost of tenant insurance is actually very reasonable. For example, a three-bed bungalow in Cork, built in 2005, with a tenant aged 35, an alarm but not monitored, a mixture of security devices including oil, smoke detectors/standard locks and with contents worth €15,000 contents, would cost around €135.

  • Email your questions to lmcbride@independent.ie or write to 'Your Questions, The Sunday Independent Business Section, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1'.

While we will endeavour to place your questions with the most appropriate expert to answer your query, this column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

Jonathan Hehir is managing director of Coverinaclick.ie

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