/ Money, Motoring

Parking your car in the garage – that’ll cost extra

Blue car in garage

The way that insurance companies calculate your car and home insurance premiums is already something of a dark art, with premium quotes changing, usually in an upward direction, for no apparent reason.

New Which? Money research has highlighted some surprising factors that can push your rate up or down. Working in a bar, living on your own, or parking in a garage could all affect your premiums.

It’s always been our assumption that home insurers will reduce your premiums if you’re at home most of time (as it reduces risk of burglary), for example if you’re retired. However, in our investigation both Aviva and Barclays quoted people more if they were at home during the day.

Paying more if you’re home alone

Aviva also charged significantly higher premiums for single-parent households than it did when there were two parents and children living in the property. The company said that evidence from many years of claims experience showed that single-adult households can carry a higher risk.

Adding extra security to your home gave minimal discounts in the searches we carried out. We found discounts of 3% or less if you had a professionally installed and maintained burglar alarm.

Driving you crazy

Being unemployed can seemingly add up to 22% to your car insurance premium rate compared to if you’re a researcher. Occupations such as a bar manager or private investigator can also see you paying more for your car insurance.

More Than surprised us by quoting more if you kept your car in a garage than if you parked the vehicle on a driveway or on the street. Other companies priced this part of the risk calculation as you’d expect, i.e. a discount for locking the car away in a garage.

Insurance confusion

Estimating your annual mileage accurately can have an impact on your car insurance premium rate. Our investigation reveals that drivers indicating 4,000-6,000 miles per year will usually get the lowest premium quotation. Obviously driving too few miles can also work against you.

Have you found that the way insurers calculate how much you pay is surprising? Perhaps a change in your circumstances has increased the price when you’d assume that it might see a fall in premiums?


Insurance companies expect us to provide any information that may be relevant and to update them of any changes during the period covered. Fair enough, but I think they should provide us with information that can help us choose what cover suits us best. What possible justification is there for charging a higher premium to those who take the trouble to put their car in the garage?

Making minor changes to insurance policies can be expensive. RIAS wanted to charge me for recording the fact that I had retired. I managed to get them to waive this charge on the basis that I had told them I would be retiring when I renewed my policy two months earlier and had been instructed to contact them at the time I did retire.

You mention that More Than quoted more if you kept your car in a garage than on the drive. The only logic I can think of is that they had a lot of claims from people scraping their cars as they put them away. But for just one company to have this problem seems strange. Do they insure a clumsy set of people? I think its more than likely just a blip on their computer software.

Insurance companies impose an “excess” to protect them from claims for minor damage. It’s high time all these wrinkles were exposed and ironed out so proper comparisons can be made between different policies or insurers. The garage parking penalty is disgraceful. The low-mileage penalty also seems unfair and I can only assume it is because it makes the car (a) more attractive to thieves and (b) more valuable so that replacement is more costly.

Bookworm says:
19 August 2013

Could it be that the insurer assumes that if you drive low mileage you then have less road experience and so could be more liable to have or be involved in an accident and that is why you pay more for very low mileage? Either way it seems that there is only ever one winner in the insurance game.

I suppose if I was looking for a new name for an insurance company it wouldn’t occur to me that “More Than” would have great appeal in the market place,

This is indeed a curious choice of name, John. I presume that they assume that potential customers are likely to think about standards of customer service. Dentistry, general practice and surgery seem to be a popular choice for people named Payne.

Bookworm says:
18 August 2013

When renewing my husband’s insurance recently a non-fault accident to me added £39 to his premium – the insurer said that statistics showed that drivers involved in non-fault accidents were more likely to claim in the future and as I was to be a named driver they loaded his premium. Needless to say I moved insurer.

Anon the Mouse says:
19 August 2013

So that’s how you get around not being allowed to discriminate based on gender. You use other factors that overwhelmingly target one gender or the other.
Such as single parent households are significantly (but not exclusively) more likely to be Women.

If enough apparent anomolies in insurance pricing are reported, perhaps Which? could ask the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries to explain the logic (if there is any) behind them. In looking for contents insurance for my daughter, who is between jobs, I looked at “house occupied all day” and “unoccupied” and was surprised, as in the intro, to find it was (slightly) cheaper if the house was empty during the day.
Meanwhile, thank goodness for the internet so you can trawl through different companies and test different options to see who gives the best deal. A broker wouldn’t have sufficient detail of your needs to do it for you.

So, exactly how much extra is it to insure your car with More Than, if you park your car in a garage?

One possible explanation that springs to mind (apart from bad automated underwriting software) is that More Than do not apply an excess if your car is stolen or burnt out in a fire when kept in a locked garage. Maybe the extra premium covers the improved coverage?

But without some more facts, it’s just another exercise in speculation.

Sorry Malcolm R – didn’t mean to reply to your post. It’s late.

I don’t believe insurance companies assume anything. It’s all done on the profile of people who make claims. Sure, they’ll compile a list of things that they think might affect your likelihood to claim. But after that it’s all down to collected data. For example, if more of their customers with garages make claims than those without them the the premium for keeping your car in a garage will go up, whether your claim is related to keeping your car in a garage or not!

You know it might be that people with garages are more likely to expect their cars to remain pristine and therefore make more cosmetic damage claims. In any case insurance companies don’t know or care….it’s what the computer tells them from the data.