Why is Regular Maintenance Important for Keeping Vehicles Insurance-Compliant?

USwitch | Wednesday 27th March 2024 10:00am

A close up of the inside of an car's engine bay, with a mechanic testing the oil level.

Routine car maintenance is a crucial aspect of keeping your car covered. The experts at Uswitch explain why.

As any seasoned driver will tell you, the lifespan of a car often depends on how well it’s taken care of. There are many reasons why keeping your car in good condition makes sense. But on top of safety, cost, and time, your insurance can also be voided if you fail to keep your car maintained.

But with the cost of living crisis biting, inflation remaining high, and budgets being squeezed up and down the country, many drivers are delaying critical vehicle maintenance. Nationwide research from 2023 found that 49% of drivers were putting off repairs, with 39% fearful that their postponed maintenance might lead to a breakdown.

As experts on all aspects of car insurance, below, Uswitch shines a light on why vehicle maintenance is important to keep your car insurance-compliant.

Why maintenance matters to every driver

The main reason to keep your car maintained is safety: to yourself, your passengers, and other road users. Poorly maintained components can give way at a moment’s notice, with serious consequences. Department of Transport statistics show the vehicle defects caused 431 road fatalities in 2022.

Cost is also a big issue. According to Checkatrade, in April 2023 the average cost of a full service in the UK was £170. That’s compared to the average cost of a breakdown, which Kwik Fit research found in April 2021 to be significantly more: £295.60. Adjusted for inflation, that comes to £373 today - double the cost of a service. At the end of the day, smaller, less serious problems are cheaper to fix and unlikely to cause bigger, more complicated and costly issues.

Lastly, poor maintenance costs time. Fixing a small issue is much quicker than allowing servicing needs to stack up and become more serious. When your car finally limps into the garage, it’s likely the problem will take much longer to fix, and even lead to the uncovering of other issues too. The result? Your car stays off the road for longer.

As you can see, maintenance matters. But there’s another key reason why keeping your car in good condition is a must: insurance.

Why does maintenance matter to your vehicle insurer?

When considering the cost of cover, there are factors we all know can increase the price. These include:

  • The crime rates of the area you live in
  • The size, age, and cost of the car
  • Whether you have on or off-street parking
  • How much mileage you’ve racked up
  • Your job, how much driving it involves, and at which hours of the day.
  • Extras like adding a named driver or having a lower excess.

However, maintenance can also have a big effect:

  • Mechanical issues - Many car insurance policies do not cover mechanical issues if they aren’t caused by an ‘insured peril’. Typically these include car accidents, fires, and malicious damage. That means if your car breaks down due to wear and tear and poor maintenance, your insurer won’t foot the bill. If you want to be insured for these issues, consider a standalone mechanical breakdown policy, which works in a similar way to an extended vehicle warranty.

  • Non-standard parts - Many insurers won’t cover non-standard parts unless they are approved by the vehicle’s manufacturer. If you don’t want to bear the cost of replacing these parts when they fail, keep your mods maintained.
  • Recklessness - Often, car insurance policies will be voided if damage or injuries are caused by reckless actions. If your car is very poorly maintained and you cause damage or hurt someone, it might be argued that you were behaving recklessly.
  • Loss of value - Similar to mechanical issues, insurers rarely cover the loss of a vehicle’s value over time, which may be caused by poor maintenance.
  • Electrical, computer, and software breakdown - Vehicles today rely significantly on electrical and computer parts. Many insurers won’t cover the cost of rectifying issues with them, so make sure you get problems fixed as they arise.
  • Restrictions - Some vehicle insurance policies place restrictions on the value of cover relating to different components and equipment, like in-car entertainment, glass, and aftermarket parts. If your component needs replacing and is covered, but is worth more than the restriction states, you may receive less than its value from your insurer.
  • Security - If your insurance covers theft and your car’s security systems are not properly maintained, your car is stolen and your insurer finds out, your cover will likely be voided.

How do UK drivers perform when it comes to servicing?

A close up of traffic on a UK motorway.

Chances are you feel you keep your car in good nick, but research Uswitch conducted in 2023 showed the opposite might be true. Putting our vehicles and insurance cover at risk, the stats show that many of us are a lot more gung ho with our four wheels than we might think.

Take using the handbrake and neutral gears when stopping. A whopping two thirds of all drivers don’t do this, wearing out their pads and inviting costly brake servicing or brake-failure-related accidents which might not be insured.

52% admit to regularly revving the engine, putting clutch performance at risk and potentially damaging the flywheel - another costly fix which might not be covered by an insurer.

A huge 47% of all drivers also fail to regularly check their engine oil and fluid levels, risking engine seizures and breakdowns.

And with the roads in a poor state, 31% admitted to ploughing through potholes. 29% don’t even stop for speed bumps, with both camps putting their tyres and suspension at costly risk.

5 ways to keep your car maintained - and covered

Being wary of the risks above will keep your service bills low and the car safely covered, but what else can drivers do to keep their motors maintained and insured?

  1. Regular servicing - The best way to reduce maintenance and insurance costs overall is to not ignore problems and get them serviced. It may work out cheaper.
  2. Choice of car - The less expensive, more popular, and less mechanically complex a vehicle is, the cheaper it will be to insure and fix. That’s because parts are more available and less expensive, costing the insurer less should you make a claim.
  3. Drive more safely - No claims bonuses can really add up when it comes to car insurance. As such, taking care on the roads will reduce the risk of damaging your car or getting into an accident, lowering your premium in lockstep.
  4. Drive less - Lower mileage means cheaper insurance. Could you journey by foot, bike, or public transport more often?
  5. Check your mileage is correct - Lower mileage equals lower premiums, so check your MOT mileage over the past few years and use the figures to accurately work out your average annual mileage.

Keeping cars insured is crucial. With the tips above, you’ll be able to drive safely while keeping more change in your pocket. Not sure if your car needs some TLC? Visit your nearest Kwik Fit centre to speak with one of our specialists, or find out more about regular servicing.

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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