April 20 2014 Latest news:

Less than half the population know that a fraudulent practice used to drive down car insurance costs is illegal.

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Fronting, where a less risky driver is used as the main name on an insurance policy instead of the actual main driver, who is typically younger and therefore would be more expensive to insure, is a serious offence.

The younger driver is then typically added to the policy as a named driver, despite the fact they cover by far the greater mileage in the insured vehicle.

Although it can reduce premiums by hundreds of pounds, it can also result in claims being rejected and criminal charges.

Parents fronting for their children has become more common in the light of rising insurance premiums and increasing pressures on household budgets.

Research from Moneysupermarket.com has revealed that one in 10 drivers have “fronted” on their car insurance and one in five people wrongly believe fronting is legal, while 36pc admitted they were clueless about the legislation.

Peter Harrison, car insurance expert at Moneysupermarket, said: “It is deeply worrying how many people are taking the risk by ‘fronting’ on their car insurance, especially as this practice is illegal and will be classified as fraud by an insurer.

“It is also concerning so many drivers think fronting is legal or are simply unaware of its legality.

“Any motorist falsely claiming to be the main driver of a vehicle is committing fraud, and taking a serious risk.

“Despite the attraction of saving money in the short-term there will be serious repercussions if they are caught as their insurance will be invalidated.

“Further ramifications could result in a younger driver ending up in court being charged with driving without insurance.”

Mr Harrision said it was not surprising some motorists would consider fronting as motoring was very expensive for younger drivers.

With annual premiums for an 18-year-old averaging about £1,271.50, it was a way to save money, he added.

“This is a false economy, however, as the costs clearly outweigh the risk of being caught and ending up with invalidated insurance.

“There are easier ways to reduce the cost of car insurance; using price comparison sites to shop around and look for the best deal will save you £282 on average.”

The Association of British Insurer’s tips for getting cheaper motor insurance legally are:

Shop around as premium rates will vary between insurers. Comparison websites may also be able to help. Insurance brokers can also assist, especially if you have a specialist need.

If purchasing a car, think about the insurance costs, as smaller lower-powered cars will be cheaper to insure. This is especially important for young, newly qualified drivers.

Consider taking the Pass Plus post driving test course, especially if you are a young driver.

Fit an approved immobiliser, as this can often earn you a discount on the premium.

Consider opting for a higher voluntary excess, as the higher the excess, the lower the premium.

Other tactics include buying online, considering a mileage limit or only driving at certain hours of the day, adding a more experienced named driver to your policy.

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