Fronting can put young drivers at risk, warns Norwich Union

Article date: 23 September 2008

Managing directors and company owners are invalidating their business insurance policy, as well as putting their children at risk, by fronting, warns Norwich Union, part of Aviva.

Fronting is an increasing problem in commercial motor insurance, where managers or directors use the business's policy to insure a person not directly connected to the company.

Mike Smith, commercial motor technical manager at Norwich Union, said: "From the claims we have come across, we have seen some devastating consequences as a result of fronting.

"The person being insured is usually a family member, often a 17 or 18-year-old son or daughter who has found it difficult or too expensive to take out their own insurance.

Every day, four people are killed or seriously injured in crashes involving young drivers1 and 17-20-year-old male drivers are almost 10 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than more experienced drivers2.

"Although this may seem as though they are doing that family member a good turn by saving them some money, and the credit crunch may make this appear even more financially attractive, the risks to both the company and that young driver are substantial.

"Fronting, in most instances, will invalidate the company insurance policy, leaving the business to pay for any damage to their vehicle. Also, if any other driver is involved in an accident, while the insurer will be required to meet any liability cost under the Road Traffic Act, they can seek recovery of any such payments from the policyholder."

"It is not just money that is at stake, however. The safety of the young driver, other passengers and road users is a vital consideration."

Mike continues: "Sometimes the fronted vehicle is a high performance car and totally unsuited to the young driver's experience, driving behaviour and attitude.

"To avoid any insurance cover problems, fleet managers need to be open and up-front with their broker and insurer, and ensure they are aware of who owns and drives all vehicles insured on the company policy.

"Brokers should ensure that fleet managers review company policy on who can drive company vehicles for social, domestic and pleasure use, including age of driver, and ensure adequate controls are in place including licence checking.

"Although fronting has largely been a car issue, vans are becoming increasingly popular amongst young people for the extra space they provide for sports equipment. Whether for car or van, the true cost of fronting can be devastating."

-ends-

For further information, please contact:
Elinor Graveson at Staniforth on 0161 919 8025 / 07973 360141 or,
Erik Nelson at Norwich Union on 01603 682 264/ 07989 427 086.

Notes to editors:
1 DFT accident statistics
2 ABI estimate, derived from DFT road traffic statistics and UN population data.

About Norwich Union

  • Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.
  • It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest Financial Adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.
  • Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media
  • In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva. Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.

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