If you’ve ever shopped for car insurance quotes, you’ll know that among the first questions asked is this: “Who is the regular driver of the vehicle?” Many customers wonder if the answer matters and why. The short answer is that it does matter, because the insurer calculates the risk and the premium on the basis of who the regular driver is. Short-term insurer MiWay provides further insight into what is often a perplexing situation for consumers.

What does “regular driver” mean?

Insurance companies view the regular driver of a car as the person who drives it most often in a given period, usually a month. This can be tricky if your family has one car that is shared between spouses or between a parent and child, but it should almost always be clear who drives the car regularly. If you’re in any doubt, tell your insurer about any individuals who drive the car on a regular basis.

How the regular driver affects premiums

Premiums are calculated according to the size of the risk you potentially pose. For example, people who have had their driving licences for less than a year are more likely to become involved in an accident than those who have been driving for 20 years. It is simple economics that the bigger the possibility that your insurer will have to pay out, the bigger the premium should be (and conversely, if you are a lower risk, you should benefit from a reduced premium).

Why do some policyholders name the wrong regular driver?

Because each premium is individually calculated – for example, younger drivers usually pay higher premiums than their parents do (and consumers are aware of this) – people are tempted to be economical with the truth. For example, a father might claim to be the regular driver of a car that he’s actually buying for his teenage son to avoid paying a higher premium.

What’s wrong with doing that?

The insurer will always check the regular driver as part of the claims assessment process – if they discover that you’ve not been honest, they can refuse to pay out or could pay out a reduced amount. You could also face higher premiums in future.

Does this mean I can’t ever let another person drive my car?

Not at all. It’s perfectly normal that sometimes you might want to let your spouse, child or a friend drive your car. If your car is involved in an accident while someone else is driving, your insurer most likely will still cover you, provided of course the correct regular driver is noted, the driver was driving legally and the policy conditions where adhered to. You may have to pay an additional excess, depending on the terms of your policy, but you will be covered.

Some insurers may ask you to name all the drivers; check with your insurer or your policy document to be 100% sure.

Full disclosure is always the best strategy

With all insurance matters, the bottom line is to always be honest. If your student son or daughter is going to be the regular driver of the car, being honest about it has two benefits: One, your claims won’t be rejected. Two, your child will have an opportunity to build up an insurance history that will stand them in good stead when they want to take out insurance in their own right in the future.

Remember to update your insurance policies

Things change and you should make sure to update your cover to reflect developments in your lifestyle and assets. If you’re going to be away for a couple of months and someone else will be using your car in that period, or if you have moved to a new address or changed jobs (which results in a change to daytime parking arrangements or what the vehicle is being used for), let your insurer know. And if you pass the car on to someone else in your household, don’t forget to update the details of the regular driver with your insurer.

– Rory Judd: Head of online marketing- MiWay