Driving Torque

Articles, reviews and opinions about cars and all things automotive

Archive for the tag “Insurance”

Smarter Insurance

Fact number one – car insurance is not getting any cheaper, in truth it is estimated that the cost of insuring your motor will rise by 40% in 2011.

Fact number two – males aged between 17 and 25 are the demographic most likely to make a claim on their insurance policy.

Modded R5 GT

Modified Renault 5 GT Turbo

Sorry for the rather bleak news there but I doubt it will come as a surprise to anyone to read these inescapable truths. What we have to do is find a remedy for the problem of soaring insurance costs because, as with most things, it’s the decent, law abiding folk of this country who are finding themselves paying for others’ mistakes. The European Union were their usual helpful selves recently when they banned lower premiums for females as this was sexual discrimination. Of course, this didn’t result in lower premiums for all, don’t be ridiculous! It simply means that the statistically safer female drivers of the world are beaten with the same large stick as everyone else come renewal time.

One solution to this problem was forwarded recently in the form of the ‘Smartbox’. In simple terms, this is a box attached to the underside of your car which monitors everything about your driving habits, from speeds and distances driven to cornering techniques and the time of day the car was on the road. This little supergrass then transmits the recorded information to your insurance company and your premium is adjusted accordingly. Not a bad idea eh? Well, not too bad in theory but the glaring oversight in all of this is that it’s voluntary and I’m guessing that the type of driver who would volunteer to have their driving cross examined would not be the type to make a claim anyway, leaving Johnny Boy-Racer to drive in his usual fashion as he has no box fitted. In short, no fewer people would be making claims but there would be even less in the coffers to compensate any losses.

You’ll be relieved to know that I have come up with a rather ingenious solution to this mess. It would involve a rather simple law being passed; the salient points would be as follows-:

1. All drivers between the ages of 17 and 21 can only be insured on vehicles with two seats or less. 2. All drivers between the ages of 17 and 21 can only be insured on vehicles with an engine not exceeding 1 litre in capacity.

smart-carNot a substantial law I know but the more observant amongst you will have deduced that it leaves very few choices of car for the younger driver. My solution therefore is not so much the ‘Smartbox’, more the Smart Car. If all young drivers were forced to drive a Mercedes Smart Car, it would surely cut insurance claims at a stroke.

Firstly, they’re equipped with the automotive equivalent of bicycle stabilisers – removable plastic panels. These cause less damage when our young driver does bump another car, as they inevitably will and are both easily and cheaply replaceable, leaving a smaller dent in the insurers wallet.

Perhaps more significantly though, they’re painfully slow. The original models would only reach 61mph and achieve 0-60mph in 16.2 seconds, admittedly this is a lot faster than a BMX but it’s never going to set the world alight. The most important factor in my masterplan however is the lack of rear seats. I can confirm from first hand experience that many accidents involving young men occur as a result of that most masculine of pastimes – showing off to their mates. Removing the rear seats would cut this ‘mate factor’ by two thirds, rendering it almost extinct.

Now I’m not saying my solution’s perfect and I’m glad no-one forced me to drive a Smart when I was 19 and tearing around in a 205 Gti  but at this desperate stage, you can’t deny it’s worth a go.

By Ben Harrington

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Early to Mid Life Crisis – Only a 911 can save me

Nineteen and a half years. Assuming every penny of it was banked, that’s roughly how long it would take Mr U.K. average to earn the amount that I’ve recently valued my life at for insurance purposes. Unfortunately this figure doesn’t take tax or National Insurance into account so unless you live in Switzerland or have an extremely clever accountant, it’s more likely to take around thirty years, with no outgoings, at all.

I’d always been led to believe that mid-life crises occurred when one hit the big 4-0 but as I approach my 31st birthday, I can only assume that mine decided on an early start. A few years ago I wouldn’t have even contemplated doing something as boring as taking out life insurance, why would I when I was invincible? Yet recently I’ve been struggling to sleep at night in case an errant satellite felled me in the street before my policy details were finalised – how middle aged is that?

It gets worse though. In true ‘Bucket List’ fashion, I’ve decided that it’s time for a long term ambition to be realised, possibly before it’s too late. I’m going to buy a Porsche 911. Since their images adorned my walls as a child, owning an 80’s 911 has been an inevitable event in my life, a box that simply must be ticked. Recently however, this need has escalated from ‘I’ll get round to that one day’ to ‘I’d better start seriously considering that’. My amateur psychoanalysis has reached the conclusion that this is partly due to turning 30 but more importantly is due to the overwhelming terror of my next milestone being 40!

porsche-capI do adore the 911, especially air-cooled examples from the 1980’s with their dramatic styling and big wings. Whenever I see one, I can’t help but take a glance at the lucky sod driving it and this, is I think what’s persuaded me it’s time to take the plunge. For me, the whole image is ruined if I see Bob the scaffolder behind the wheel, well into his 40s and well over a 40 inch waist, light reflecting off his balding pate or worse still, a Porsche baseball cap attempting to disguise said pate. This is certainly not how I want to be seen in my 911. I want young blondes to take a glance and see someone with youth, vigour and his own teeth, someone who’s still in his prime, not incontinence pants. This may be the sad attempt of a thirty something father of two trying to kid the world but as long as I’m convinced, I don’t care.

Of course, deciding to buy a 911 is just the first step, achieving it may be a couple of years down the line as I’ve got to save up the cash. Well I’m not going to get a loan am I, that would be far too irresponsible!

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By Ben Harrington

OAP (Old Age Pest) Should driving tests for the elderley be introduced?

abe simpson in his car Sir Stirling Moss has recently voiced his opinion that a refresher test should be introduced for all drivers aged either 70 or 75 and I couldn’t agree with him more. Now, I’m not saying that all drivers of this age are bad – Sir Stirling could still teach me a thing or twenty. I’m fairly sure however that most OAPs on the road don’t possess the necessary reactions and awareness to deal with modern day traffic. I recently read that over 70’s are responsible for a mere four percent of accidents that involve injury in the UK and to be honest, I find that a terrifying statistic. Four per cent may not sound like much but when you consider the tiny percentage of drivers over 70 on the roads at any one time, their accident rates are astonishing. Another frightening statistic is that drivers aged over 70 are three times as likely to be killed on injured in a road accident as drivers aged between 40 and 65. Both of these statistics only look at more serious accidents involving death or injury, what about the more common every-day accidents which may not result in injury yet push up insurance premiums nonetheless.

Please don’t think me naive. I’m more than aware that drivers at the opposite end of the age scale are an insurance company’s worst nightmare and with good reason, a combination of over-confidence and a lack of skill do not good bedfellows make. In 99 per cent of cases though, these bad traits are ironed out as everyone has to start somewhere. As the old saying goes though, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

By Ben Harrington

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