Smash and Dash: A Worrying Driving Phenomenon, and How to Prevent It

We like to think it’ll never happen to us. Unfortunately, even with all the driving skill in the world, your car might end up hitting another in an innocent space like a car park.

The polite thing to do after this happens is to suck it up and apologise to the other driver. However, a study of 2,000 drivers by Euro Car Parts shows that almost a third would drive off without doing this.

32% of participants admitted preferring to “smash and dash”. What’s more, research suggests there’s a gender split in this too: 36% of male drivers said they’d drive off, compared to 28% of women.

The survey also highlighted geographical hotspots of the trend. Perhaps unsurprisingly, London comes out on top, and it relates to other cities in the top 5 as follows:

1. London – 43%

2. Oxford – 40%

3. Liverpool – 33%

4. Glasgow – 33%

5. Norwich – 32%

Taking into account that the majority of everyday “smash and dash” instances are committed when trying to park, Euro Car Parts’ survey also gauged the parking pet peeves of drivers. Half of those asked said that tight parking bays were their top annoyance, closely followed by parking over two spaces; the trend known as Clarkson Parking is something we’ve covered before [link to article here if poss], and it annoyed 47% of motorists.

Chris Barella, Euro Car Parts’ Vice President of Sales, said that their research underlines how challenging urban parking has become, “especially in cramped and busy urban environments like large cities.”

However, though a lot of these variables are outside of our control – after all, we can’t stop others from parking badly – there are ways for us to make sure that our cars can handle parking in a difficult spot.

Many of them involve newer technologies that would have been unthinkable in cars even 10 years ago. “By fitting cars with parking aids like sensors and reversing cameras, drivers can ensure that they’re fully prepared for the stresses of urban parking.”

Parking is often a necessity, rather than a joy. Like any part of driving, accidents can happen – but by being aware of what you can do, and not panicking in the moment, we  can all leave with fewer dents in our motors and our pride.

What do you think of the survey’s results? Have you experienced a parking nightmare in a city, or elsewhere? What annoys you most about it? Let us know in the comments below!

Paws and Penalties: The Hidden Cost Of Driving with Your Pet

Britain is well-known as a nation of pet lovers. Many of us can’t bare the thought of going on a long trip without our furry friends, with 56% saying they enjoy holidays more when they’re with their dog.

However, you might want to think twice before putting Fido in the passenger seat. Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that animals in a vehicle must be “suitably restrained” so that they can’t act as a distraction, or cause either of you an injury if you had to stop suddenly.

Not restraining your pet can lead to charges for driving without due care. This can amount to nine penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500.

So, how exactly do you restrain your pet safely? CarShop recommends that dogs should wear a harness that can be clipped onto the seat belt fastener, like the one pictured below:

Smaller pets, like cats and hamsters, are best suited to travelling in a crate that can be strapped in with a normal seatbelt.

Whatever the size of your pet, they should be placed behind the passenger seat and away from any airbags. This not only ensures their safety, but makes it so that you, the driver, can’t be distracted.

Some pets can also suffer anxiety as a result of riding in a car. It’s suggested that you bring things they know from home. such as toys or blankets, that will make them more comfortable.

If they live in a small enough cage, you might even be able to bring the whole thing. Anything that limits restlessness will be good for you and your pet.

Additionally, you should try not to feed your pet within two hours of your journey; this will minimise the chances of them getting upset stomachs. However, if you have a smaller pet, like a hamster,  it’s recommended that you keep a supply of food in the car for your longer journeys.

Just like how you carefully plan any journeys you’re taking with human passengers, you should do the same when travelling with your pet. Make sure there are plenty of stops along the way, with some nice places to walk and park if possible. Taking your dog to fun places in the car in the period of time leading up to your big journey will mean that when the day comes, they’ll associate being in the car with happy experiences. Hopefully, this will make things smoother for the both of you!

If the British weather smiles on us with a hot day, make sure that you use sun shades on windows, and carry plenty of water to stop animals from overheating. If you open windows, don’t do this so much that pets can jump or hang their heads out, as both are extremely dangerous.

Lastly – though we shouldn’t really have to tell you this – NEVER leave a pet in a car on their own. This applies even in cooler temperatures, but especially when it’s very warm.

With these tips in mind, you should be all set to go on an adventure with your four-legged friend!

Beginners Guide to Car Insurance

Take the mystery out of car insurance with our beginners’ guide, then compare policies and cheap quotes to find the right deal for you.

Key points

  • Insurance is a legal requirement
  • You’re responsible for answering any questions relating to your application honestly
  • You must inform your insurer of changes in circumstance or requirements
  • Car insurance money-saving tips

 

Finding the right car insurance policy can seem quite daunting, but we have some information to help make it simple.

Car insurance is a legal requirement

Every motorist is required by law to have insurance for their vehicle, providing cover for you and other named drivers in the event of driving-related damage or injury.

The only exception would be if the vehicle is registered as off road with a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN).

Filling in your application

You’re responsible for answering any questions relating to your application honestly. If the information is found to be incorrect it could invalidate your insurance and your insurer may not pay out for any claims you make.

Always make sure that the policy you’re applying for has the right level of cover and features that you require.

Factors affecting your car insurance premium

Car

Insurers will take into account many different factors when calculating your car insurance premium. These will include:

Vehicle type: If you have an expensive car or a high-performance vehicle, you’ll probably be in a high insurance group and may have to pay more for your premium.

Age:Younger drivers will usually have to pay more for insurance, as statistically they’re more likely to make a claim.

Occupation:Particular jobs could raise premiums, such as chefs or journalists.

Use of vehicle: How often you use your car, your mileage and when you travel could have an effect on how much you pay. Travelling within busy peak times can bump up your premium, too.

Driving history:Prior convictions can affect the price of your insurance.

Voluntary excess: Opting for a higher voluntary excess (the amount you pay in the event of a claim) could lower your premium.

Types of policy

  • Third party only
  • Third party, fire and theft
  • Comprehensive
  • Telematics

Types of policy

There are four main different types of car insurance:

Third party only (TPO)

Third party only is the minimum level cover required by law in the UK. It covers:

  • Liability for injury to others (including passengers)
  • Damage to third party property
  • Liability whilst towing a caravan or trailer

Third party, fire and theft (TPFT)

For any changes that you want to make to your policy, such as your address or to add another driver, you must inform your insurance company

Third party, fire and theft covers everything that third party does, but also:

  • Fire damage
  • Theft of vehicle
  • Damage to your car caused during theft

Comprehensive

A comprehensive policy will provide you with the most extensive level of cover, including everything covered by third party, fire and theft, and usually:

  • Loss or damage to your vehicle
  • Windscreen cover
  • Personal effects
  • Accidental damage
  • Medical expenses

Telematics

Telematics policies have made great strides into the market in recent years, using a black box or mobile phone app to calculate your premium based on the standard and nature of your driving.

Some insurance companies offer cheaper policies that offer less protection, known as ‘stripped down’ policies. For example, they may have taken off windscreen cover or reduced what you can claim for personal effects – so always check your policy documents to make sure you have the cover you want.

Policy exclusions

Most car insurance policies will have key exclusions which will be outlined in your policy documents. Always make sure that you’ve thoroughly read what you’re not covered for prior to choosing your policy.

Excess

An excess is what you’re liable to pay towards a claim. There are two types, compulsory and voluntary.

Types of excess

  • Compulsory
  • Voluntary

Compulsory excess

  • Set by your insurance company
  • Depends on the details you’ve provided your insurer with when you took out your policy
  • Higher excesses are most likely on policies with young drivers, or on high-value cars

Voluntary excess

  • Amount you choose to pay towards the cost of a claim
  • Can help to reduce the price of your insurance
  • Paid on top of any compulsory excess you have

No claims bonus

A no claims bonus is a reward for people who don’t make a claim on their policy.

Note that it’s a ‘no claim’ bonus, not a ‘no blame’ bonus, so whether an accident is your fault or not when you make a claim, it will affect your no claims bonus, unless your insurer recovers their costs from the other driver’s insurance company.

Documentation and paperwork

Once you have taken out an insurance policy, your insurer should send you or give you access to:

  • A certificate of insurance, or a cover note which is a temporary certificate – cover notes will provide you with the same protection as a certificate, but usually only for a limited period
  • A schedule and/or policy document – this sets out the full terms and conditions of your policy
  • A policy booklet (or they will tell you where to access one) – tells you exactly what your policy covers and what to do if you need to contact your insurance company

Make sure you keep your documents in a safe place where you can access them easily.

Changes to your policy

For any changes that you want to make to your policy, such as your address or to add another driver, you must inform your insurance company. This is important because if your information is false it could make any claims invalid.

You may be charged an administration fee by the insurance company for changes that you wish to make.

Also remember that your premium may alter depending on the details you amend.

Driving other cars

You’ll need to read your policy documents before driving another car. Some will allow it but others won’t, so take care. If your policy permits you to drive another vehicle, the following usually applies:

  • You won’t be covered for any damage to the car you’re driving
  • The car must currently be insured
  • You require the driver’s permission
  • You can only be covered for cars that don’t belong to you, or vehicles not hired to you under a hire purchase agreement
  • It’s for emergency cover use only, not for day-to-day use

Making a claim

In the event that you have an accident or your car is stolen, it’s vital that you tell your insurer straight away. This also applies if you’ve had an accident but aren’t making a claim.

Insurers will then take details of your claim. If you have comprehensive cover and your car needs repairing, your insurer can provide you with approved repairers in your area and arrange for it to be fixed.

Uninsured drivers

The Motor Insurers’ Bureau was set up in 1946 to provide a way of compensating the victims of uninsured or untraced motorists. You may be charged if you cancel your policy before it has ended.

All motor insurers must be members of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau and contribute to its funding.

The Bureau has a Motor Insurance Database which helps identify uninsured drivers. It’s run by the Motor Insurers’ Information Centre and holds details of all private and fleet motor insurance policyholders.

The police have access to the database so they can carry out on-the-spot checks on motorists to confirm they have current and valid insurance.

When an uninsured or untraced driver injures a third party or damages their property, the third party should receive compensation from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.

If a car is stolen and the car thief damages property or injures someone, the insurance company for the car covers these costs.

Cancelling a policy

You may be charged if you cancel your policy before it has ended. The charge could be made up of a cancellation fee and a percentage of your premium. Cancellation rates can usually be found in your policy booklet. Remember that you won’t be able to drive your car until you take out a new policy.

Read more at Go Compare.

Black Boxes, the Truth

So you’ve passed your test and you are now desperately trying to insure your car for the best possible price. If that’s the case hopefully you’ve read our previous edition on insurance as it will give you useful tips, click here if you missed it.

In this blog edition we’re going to talk about the hot topic of black boxes and reveal the truth about them. Let’s begin with some false myths.

Myths about black boxes:

The Truth about black boxes:

How do they actually work:

Watch this little video about Admirals Little Black Box.

In summary, black boxes have come a long way in recent years and have seen great improvements since their first introduction. With cash back rewards for good driving behaviour they are an ideal way of saving money and improving your driving skill and attitudes all at the same time.

For further information or to get a competitive quote from one of our trusted insurance suppliers, check out Admiral Little Box here.