What is fronting?

Fronting is lying to an insurer about the main driver of a car as a way to get cheaper premiums. It is illegal and can even lead to a criminal record. Essentially a type of insurance fraud, fronting should be avoided at all costs. So why do drivers (either intentionally or accidentally) still do it?
We take a closer look at the practice of fronting, how it works, why it should be avoided, and how to save money on your car insurance without fronting.

Fronting: What is it?

Car insurance fronting is when someone claims to be the main driver of a vehicle when they’re not. Usually a more experienced driver (often a parent) will take out a car insurance policy but the less experienced driver (a teenage child) will be the main user of the car. The less experienced driver is then featured as a named driver on the policy and is granted the same level of cover as the vehicle’s main driver.


Why does fronting happen?

The main benefit of fronting is that the cost of the car insurance policy will be much cheaper. Insurance companies see older, more experienced drivers as lower risk compared to younger drivers, which brings down the cost of the premiums. And the savings can be fairly significant.
Stats from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) reveal that car insurance fraud cost around £602 million in 2020. And while many people regard insurance fraud as a victimless crime, the truth is it actually affects all policyholders in the long run. Premiums across the board will inevitably increase as insurance companies make up for the losses they have accrued.

Examples of fronting

Fronting generally takes place as a way to reduce the cost of car insurance, and is often a variation on one of the following two situations:
1 Insuring a young, inexperienced driver
Tom has recently passed his driving test and has been bought a car by his parents. It becomes clear that the cost of insuring that vehicle is higher than they were expecting. As a way to bring down the cost of the premiums, Tom’s dad puts the policy in his name and adds Tom as a named driver. Tom’s dad is unlikely to drive the car more than his son so he has fronted the policy.
However, when Tom is involved in an accident a few months later, insurance fraud is suspected and detected and the car is impounded. As well as Tom not being properly insured to drive the car when the accident occured (meaning he cannot make a claim), he now also needs impounded car insurance in order for the car to be released from the pound.
2 Insuring a high-risk driver
Amy was caught committing a series of motoring offences which led to her being banned from driving for six months. When she was allowed to get behind the wheel again, she discovered that the price of her insurance premium had risen sharply. She asked her parents if she could be added to the insurance policy as a named driver, with her mum as the main driver of the car. The quotes she received  dropped to a level she was able to afford and she thought nothing of it. Neither Amy nor her mum realised they were committing a crime.
When Amy was involved in an accident that wasn’t her fault, the insurance company decided to do a bit of investigating. They were able to prove that fronting had taken place and Amy found herself in court yet again.
In both of these situations, the people involved thought they were being financially savvy. However, because an accident happened in both cases with the named driver at the wheel, the insurance company decided to carry out an investigation and were able to prove their suspicions.

Is fronting illegal?

While cutting costs sounds like a good idea in theory, when it comes to car insurance, the reality can be a very different matter. With more young people getting involved in fronting, it’s important that we all realise the consequences of such actions.
The truth is that many people who get involved in fronting don’t realise they’re doing anything wrong. They certainly don’t realise they’re committing a criminal offence which can carry serious consequences.
However, fronting is a form of insurance fraud – and is illegal. Ignorance is no excuse.
The way any insurance works is based on risk. More specifically for car insurance, the level of risk an insurer perceives you to be when behind the wheel. When someone is not honest about the level of risk they present, they are providing an insurance company with inaccurate, misleading information.
The result might be cheaper car insurance premiums. But it could also mean a hefty fine, your car is impounded (so you’ll need impounded car insurance to get it released), prosecution, and an IN10 conviction (the penalty issued for driving without insurance).

Insurance fronting consequences

The consequences of car insurance fronting vary. The best you can hope for is that your insurance provider cancels your policy. The worst is being sent to prison. Alongside those possibilities there’s also the chance your car will be impounded. Whatever the punishment, the financial implications are clear. You will find it harder to get a vehicle insured in the future and you may need to pay for additional cover such as impounded car insurance.
Let’s look at some of the consequences associated with car insurance fronting in more detail.
Your policy is cancelled
If an insurance company suspects you of fronting your car insurance, they might decide to instantly cancel your insurance policy. If this is the case, both the less experienced or high-risk driver as well as the more experienced driver could find themselves without insurance. Car insurance is a legal requirement for every driver. Driving a vehicle without insurance can land you with a fixed penalty and points on your licence so risking having your cover voided in this way is not worth it.
You can’t make a claim
If you’re caught fronting when making a claim, your claim will be rejected. The insurance provider can simply refuse to pay for any damage to the vehicle. If a third party was involved, the insurer may be obliged to pay out a successful claim. However, this means they are losing money and are well within their rights to pursue the policyholder to reimburse those costs.
You find yourself in court
As we know, fronting is a criminal offence, meaning cases often end up in court. And if you do end up being prosecuted, that could lead to you receiving a criminal record.
The main takeaway here is that ignorance is not a defence. Regardless of whether you realised you were committing a crime or not, you will be punished for that crime. You can read about the types of punishment you might face below.
Your car is impounded
If you’re found guilty of car insurance fronting, there’s a good chance your car will be impounded. If this happens, you’ll need certain documents in order to get it back. You’ll need to prove you are the owner of the car, that the car is road legal and that you’re insured to drive it. This final piece of documentation could prove tricky if your insurer has cancelled your cover. In this instance, you will need impounded car insurance in order to release it. It’s important that you have the right kind of impounded car insurance policy as standard insurance doesn’t cover a car that’s been seized. Always call ahead to check what documents you will need and the proof required can vary.
You lose your no claims bonus
In the case of an accident, there’s a chance the main driver will lose any no claims bonus they have accumulated. Even if the older driver has never driven the car, it is their name on the policy and the buck stops with them. Even without a claim, most insurers do not let named drivers build up their own no claims discount. This means the younger or less experienced might find it tricky to find an affordable quote in the future.
You pay more for your insurance in the future
It is likely to be much harder to get insurance if you’ve been convicted of car insurance fronting. For any new insurance application you must declare if you have had a previous policy cancelled or have been refused cover in the past. Having a policy cancelled or voided means you will pay more for insurance. Having a criminal conviction means you will pay more for insurance. Having both of those makes you a far higher risk, meaning your premiums will be much higher down the line.

What are the penalties for car insurance fronting?

Of course, losing your no claims bonus or finding impounded car insurance could be the least of your worries. If your case ends up in court, there are a number of more serious legal penalties you could face. These include:
  • A significant fine.
  • Six points on your licence (enough for an instant ban if you’ve been driving less than two years).
  • A criminal record.

How do you get caught fronting?

It might seem that car insurance fronting is unlikely to be detected - virtually impossible to detect, even. Surely, no insurer has the time (or inclination) to check the main driver on every policy. This might be true, however cases often get discovered as and when a claim is made. Insurers will generally launch an investigation into how the accident happened and they will soon discover if fronting has occurred.
As part of their investigation, insurers will use different systems, technologies and databases to uncover fraud. The search will be thorough, and if they don’t find out when you insure your car, they will almost certainly find out when a claim is made.


Who’s the main driver anyway?

The main driver is usually the owner or the registered keeper of a vehicle. However, this is not always the case.
The easiest way to work out the main driver of a car is to determine who drives the car the most. This checklist can help you work that out:
  • The person who uses the car on a regular basis to drive to and from work or college/university.
  • The person who uses the car the most over the course of a week.
  •  The person who uses the car on a daily basis to get from A to B.
By the same token, a named driver is someone who only uses a car occasionally. They are not legally permitted to drive the vehicle more than the main driver, so they can’t use it every day to drive to work, for example. Named drivers are only insured to drive that specific car, they cannot drive other vehicles.
It’s really important that you give your insurance provider as much accurate information about who the main driver and named driver is on a vehicle. Make sure you don’t find yourself committing a criminal offence without realising it. If you’re in any doubt about car usage, get in touch with your insurance provider and explain the situation to them.

How to avoid fronting

It’s easy to avoid getting caught out fronting: just make sure the main driver on the car insurance policy is actually the main driver of the vehicle.
Of course, everyone’s circumstances change from time to time. Whenever they do, be sure to let your insurer know. It may mean your premium goes up – but you could also find your premium goes down, too. A good example of this is if a young person moves away to university and takes a car with them. They will become the main driver of that car and the policy needs to be updated accordingly.

Legal ways to reduce the cost of your car insurance

Everyone wants to save money on their car insurance, but dishonesty is never the right way to go about it. The best way to avoid the prospect of penalty points, impounded car insurance, or a criminal record is to be completely honest with your insurer.
Fortunately, there are plenty of legal ways you can find competitive car insurance while staying on the right side of the law.
Here are eight ways to reduce the cost of your car insurance today:
1 Add a named driver
While it’s against the law for parents to name themselves as the main driver on an insurance policy when they are not, it’s not an offence to add themselves as a named driver (as long as they do use the car occasionally). This will reduce the cost of a young person’s car insurance and allow that young person to build up their own no claims discount.
2 Be accurate about your mileage
If you tell your insurer you drive more miles per year than you actually do, you could be pushing up the cost of your premium. So be accurate when quoting your annual mileage. And if you want to go a step further, do fewer miles each year. The lower your mileage, the less you will pay on insurance.
3 Try telematics insurance
Telematics (or black box) insurance is where the insurer uses technology to monitor your driving. The idea behind it is that those who drive carefully are rewarded with lower premiums. This is a particularly popular option among younger motorists as it allows them to dramatically reduce the cost of their car insurance (although it’s open to anyone). By installing a telematics device in your car, your insurer can check a range of data: how fast you drive; how aggressively you brake and accelerate; and the times of day you’re behind the wheel.
4 Pay annually and in full
Paying for your car insurance by monthly instalments is a tempting option when you’re trying to save money, but if you’re able to part with the full sum of money in one go, it could save you in the long-run. This is because you will avoid paying any interest that may be added to the monthly instalments. Make sure you weigh up both options when taking out a new policy.
5 Take the Pass Plus scheme
New drivers may find they benefit from taking the Pass Plus course. This is an extra driving qualification set up by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). It can be taken at any time, but is most likely to benefit newly qualified drivers in the first 12 months after passing their test. The idea behind Pass Plus is that it reduces the risk of you being involved in a road accident (so you become less of a perceived risk in the eyes of your insurer). However, you do need to pay to take the course, so make sure you factor this into your budget.
6 Pick a higher voluntary excess
There are two types of excess attached to car insurance – compulsory and voluntary. The compulsory excess is set by the insurer and (as the name suggests) cannot be changed. However, it is possible to set your own level of voluntary excess. Remember that if you do end up making a claim you will be expected to pay both excesses (known as the total excess). You must be confident you can afford that cost in the event of a claim, otherwise you will not be able to complete your claim.
7 Drive a different car
The make and model of car your drive affects the premium you pay. This is particularly true for younger drivers who tend to face the highest premiums. Driving a car with a smaller engine, that has good security features, and that has not been modified can help keep premiums low.
8 Pick the right level of cover
Make sure you choose the right level of cover for you:
-          Comprehensive: In the event of an accident you, your car, other people, and their car are protected. This is the highest level of cover you can get.
-          Third party, fire and theft: With this level, your car won’t be protected if you’re involved in an accident that is your fault. However, it will cover fire damage, theft or attempted theft. It will also protect the passengers in your car and people in the other car if they are injured in an accident for which you are held responsible.
-          Third party: This is the minimum level of cover required to legally drive in the UK. You are covered for damage to other cars, property, and injuries to other people. However, you will not be able to claim for any damage to your own car or person. While third party cover offers the least protection, it isn’t always the cheapest option. It’s a popular choice for younger drivers and owners of older cars who are less concerned about damage.

How to get insured after a fronting conviction

If you’ve been found guilty of fronting, it’s going to be difficult finding affordable car insurance. Your insurer might have voided your policy, meaning you’re no longer insured to drive a vehicle. You might find the quotes you’re getting for cover are higher than usual. Or you might find that some insurers will not offer you a quote at all.
Impounded car insurance can help you recover your car if it has been seized and you need to prove you are insured to drive it away. Cover can be arranged for 30 days or up to a year, giving you the time you need to release your car and find a car insurance policy that suits your needs.
Having your car impounded can be a worrying time. At Insurance Factory, we aim to reduce some of that stress, by offering specialist impounded car insurance policies.
Discover more about impounded car insurance and get a quote today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.


Frequently asked questions

What is the Pass Plus scheme?

The Pass Plus scheme is a training program designed to help newly qualified drivers gain additional skills and experience on the road. It was introduced in 1995 by the UK government in an effort to reduce road accidents and make roads safer for everyone. By completing the Pass Plus scheme, drivers not only enhance their driving skills but also potentially benefit from lower insurance premiums. It's a great opportunity for new drivers to build confidence and become more competent behind the wheel.

Why does the make and model of a car impact my insurance premiums?

First and foremost, insurance companies take into account the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle in the event of an accident. More expensive or rare car models may require specialised parts or mechanics, which can drive up the cost of repairs. Additionally, certain makes and models may be more susceptible to theft or vandalism, increasing the risk for insurance companies. Finally, some cars have better safety features or are deemed more reliable, reducing the likelihood of accidents and claims.

Why might I pick a higher voluntary excess?

While most insurance policies come with a compulsory excess, you also have the option to choose a voluntary excess. But why would you want to pick a higher voluntary excess? Well, it all comes down to saving money in the long run. By opting for a higher excess, you are essentially taking on more of the financial risk yourself. This means that your insurance company sees you as less of a risk and may offer you a lower premium as a result. So, if you're confident in your driving abilities and are willing to take on a bit more responsibility for potential claims, a higher voluntary excess might just be the right choice for you.

How can a black box help younger drivers?

By monitoring things like speed, acceleration, braking, and cornering, the black box can provide feedback to the driver on their performance. This feedback is essential for young drivers who are still learning the ropes and may not be aware of their own driving habits. With the help of a black box, they can identify areas where they need to improve and make adjustments accordingly. Ultimately, this can lead to a reduction in accidents and fatalities among young drivers, making our roads safer for everyone.

How can adding a named driver reduce car insurance premiums?

Adding a named driver to your car insurance policy can actually help reduce your premiums. This is because insurance providers view having an additional driver as spreading the risk. By adding someone with a clean driving record and a good amount of driving experience, the insurance company sees them as a lower risk driver. This means that they are less likely to be involved in an accident or make a claim, which ultimately reduces the overall risk for the insurance provider.