Q: I had been living in Meath for three years until March, but when lockdown happened I decided to move in with my sister in my native Clare. I don't have to come back into the office for the remainder of the year at least, so I'm staying put. I am mid-way through my car insurance policy. I am wondering if I have to let my insurers know. And is there any way they could charge me more because of my change of location?
A: When determining the price of your insurance premium, insurers use what are known as "rating factors", according to Deirdre McCarthy of Coverinaclick.ie. This could be your age, the make, model and year of your car etc. Area is another such rating factor, so it will impact how much you are charged.
Insurers will base their rating on the location at which the car is kept for four or more nights of the week, Ms McCarthy said. Some insurers will rate based on your Eircode, which gives them your exact location. Certain areas will be deemed safer than others and this is based on crime statistics and other data. The safer the area, the cheaper the premium. Cities would be normally be rated higher than some areas in the country.
Without further detail it's impossible to say whether your new location would be rated higher or lower than your previous one. However, it is very important to let your insurer know of your move, as it's a material fact and non-disclosure could become an issue in the event of a claim, she added.
Q: I have been working from home for the last three months. Is benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax payable on the equipment my company has provided for my home office? I'm also wondering about my company car and how this will be affected. I'm still using it now and then for work, with a little bit of personal use too where strictly necessary.
A: Revenue has stated that no BIK charge should arise where an employer provides certain office equipment, such as a laptop or printer, and office furniture, that enables an employee to work from home, according to the chief executive of Taxback.com, Joanna Murphy. This is the case provided all equipment is used for work purposes and there is minimal incidental or private use.
In a situation like yours, where your employer has allowed limited use of the vehicle, BIK may be calculated on the amount of business mileage that you accrued in January 2020 and used as a base month in order to calculate any BIK due, she added.
Do ensure you keep a record of all mileage done during the Covid-19 period, whether for work or private use. A handy way to do this is to take photos of the odometer and keep them in a file under each class of usage. Ms Murphy said it is worth checking with your employer to ensure that they are no longer charging you tax on any BIK which you are not in receipt of due to Covid-19.
Q: I have a 21-year-old son who is currently insured as a named driver on my policy. He is on his second permit. He hasn't been able to reapply for his driving test due to the Covid closures, but I am keen that he has his full licence and own car and policy as soon as possible. My own insurance is up for renewal in early October. Would it be possible for him to complete his test by then?
A: Recent figures from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) suggest that up to 33,000 drivers on a provisional licence may be in a similar position to your son, according to Deirdre McCarthy of Coverinaclick.ie.
She said these people may have passed their test between March and July had test centres been operating as normal. This backlog has created longer than usual driving test wait times for applicants, Ms McCarthy said. The official line is that the maximum wait time will be limited to 10 weeks. However, this could be extended, as test centres will be prioritising the appointments of drivers whose test was suspended or cancelled during lockdown.
Ms McCarthy advised any potential applicants to get their application in immediately. She calculated that drivers who pass their test are typically rewarded with premium reductions of between €300 and €600 at their next renewal.
However, if it's a case that your own renewal does come up before he passes his test, most insurers will give a pro-rata refund of any reduction if a person passes their test mid-term. She advised checking the insurer's refund policy before renewing and to notify your insurer as soon as your son passes his driving test.
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