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DIY car repairs could void your insurance - and even leave you blacklisted; A high excess is enough to put anyone off - especially when the problem can be so easily fixed. But repairing the damage yourself can lead to further problems.

Byline: John Fitzsimons

Car insurance costs appear to be falling. According to the latest data from theAssociation of British Insurers, the average price paid for car insurance in the first quarter of this year was [pounds sterling]466.

That's the lowest it's been in two years, while the [pounds sterling]15 drop in average prices from the previous three months is the biggest quarterly drop since 2013.

Car insurance can be a painful part of any driver's running costs, so any reduction has to be welcome. However, it seems that some drivers are making a potentially costly mistake when taking out their policies.

Drivers warned that giving lifts could be leaving them uninsured and at risk of a [pounds sterling]2,500 fine

One really important factor in any car insurance policy is the excess. This is the figure that you have to pay up-front when making a claim a insurers won't process the claim until you have stumped it up.

While there will be a minimum figure set by the insurer, you can opt to increase it. By doing so you can then cut the size of your car insurance premium a if you have the cash to hand in case of an accident, it's a smart way to reduce your car insurance costs.

The trouble is that plenty of drivers don't think carefully enough about what level to set the excess at on their policies. Whether they push it up in order to reduce the size of their premiums, or simply because that's the level the excess is automatically set at when getting a quote, it seems many drivers end up with an uncomfortably high excess level.

In fact, a new study from price comparison bodsGoComparefound that more than one in five (22%) of car insurance customers would have to turn to credit in order to cover the excess on a claim, while a third would have to dip into their savings.

These costs can come as an unpleasant shock too. GoCompare found that one in 10 drivers hadn't anticipated how much they would have to pay on the excess when making a claim, while a worrying 6% hadn't realised they would have to pay a penny towards their claim.

It's led to GoCompare offering to reimburse customers buying car insurance policies should they need to make a claim up to [pounds sterling]250 towards the excess.

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With the excess proving a troubling expense for so many motorists, it can serve to discourage them from making a claim for smaller incidents.

For example, let's say that you get caught up in a minor scrape and the cost of repair comes at around [pounds sterling]1,000.

If you've got an excess of [pounds sterling]500, then making a claim may not seem particularly worthwhile.

Sure, the insurer will cover half of that cost but the fact that you have made a claim will inevitably drive up the cost of your premiums for the next couple of years, irrespective of whether the incident was your fault or not.

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Another reason some drivers may be put off making a claim when the repair costs appear to be relatively small is the no-claims bonus.

Insurers understandably want to reward safe drivers, and each year that you add to your no-claims record can mean a significant reduction in the cost of your car insurance.

You can even pay a bit extra on your car insurance to 'protect' your no-claims bonus, so you don't lose it even if you do get caught up in an incident.

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When this happens, some motorists will decide that they are better off covering the cost of the repairs themselves rather than going through their insurer.

There's nothing wrong with this, but it's nonetheless crucial that you inform your insurer about it.

That's because there will be a clause within your insurance contract which stipulates that you have to let your insurer know about any accidents involving you and the car, even if you don't plan to make a claim.

You also need to do so within what's classed as a "reasonable time", though this timeframe will vary between policies and insurers so you'll need to check your own policy details.

If you fail to inform your insurer of an accident, even if you don't want to claim, then you are technically breaching your contract.

This could lead to your car insurance policy being torn up, with the insurer refusing to cover you.

Not only does this leave you then needing to find a new policy, but you are also required to inform any new insurer that a previous policy was cancelled. This will inevitably push your premiums up even more, while you will also have fewer insurers to choose from as not all firms want to deal with people in this situation.

Car insurance: What you need to know

Thenew discount rate is supposed to mean car insurance will be getting even cheaper for millions.

Finally,we've also taken a look at some of the absurd reasons given for turning down insurance claims.

CAPTION(S):

Credit: iStockphoto

The shock of shelling out for an excess may push some drivers to want to pay for repairs themselves

Credit: REX/Shutterstock

You'll need to pay an 'excess' when making a claim on your car insurance

Credit: iStockphoto

Set the excess too high and making a claim may not seem worthwhile

Credit: PA

A no-claims bonus can lead to healthy discounts on your car cover

Credit: Getty

Your contract will oblige you to inform your insurer about any accidents - even if you don't want to claim

Credit: Getty
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Title Annotation:Money
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 3, 2019
Words:978
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