‘Crash for cash’ scams on the rise, Insurance Fraud Bureau claims

‘Crash for cash’ scams on the rise, Insurance Fraud Bureau claims

According to the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), 170,000 claims linked to potential ‘crash for cash’ scams were recorded last year.

‘Crash for cash’ scams are orchestrated by involved drivers or pedestrians who plan accidents to catch out innocent motorists on the road. The perpetrators then make injury claims and file for fake injury compensation.

New variants of the scam are frequently emerging, ranging from dangerous collisions caused by fraudsters to fabricated papers or vehicle damage carried out by the scammers themselves.

Motorists have also been warned about the rise in pedestrian scammers, with increasing numbers of pedestrians throwing themselves into slow-moving traffic in the hopes of pinning the blame on innocent drivers.

Due to the number of suspected ‘crash for cash’ claims recorded per year, the accumulation results in claims worth millions of pounds, as well as an increase in insurance costs for innocent parties.

A 2019 estimation suggests that ‘crash for cash’ scams cost insurers around £340million per year.

In commenting on the criminal gangs involved in perpetrating these ‘crash for cash’ crimes, James Dalton, director of general insurance policies at Association of British Insurers (ABI), said:

‘These criminal gangs are often highly organised and put lives at risk.

‘The amounts that they fraudulently claim can be huge and can impact on the motor premiums paid by honest motorists.’

The ABI also gave motorists an insight into the various ways in which scammers are orchestrating these accidents for maximum effect:

‘The criminals cause the accidents in a number of ways, including disabling their brake lights to cause the car behind to run into them; slamming on the brakes for no obvious reason, flashing their lights at a junction to let you out, then crashing into you deliberately; or working in conjunction with other drivers in front of them.’

Unfortunately, the ABI also suggests that it is vulnerable road users who are most at risk of being caught up in one of these dangerous scams:

‘Crash for cash fraudsters often target vulnerable road users, who are under time pressure or do not want to cause any trouble.’ However, ‘ultimately, fraudsters harm all law-abiding motorists.’

Victim of a ‘crash for cash’ scam, Freddie Lovejoy commented on his experience after he was forced into a collision on the A1:

‘You never expect a crime like crash for cash to happen until it does, and I would strongly recommend drivers read up about it,’ he warned.

‘There can be physical and mental impacts when involved in a car accident, and to think criminals do it on purpose is scary.’

‘Crash for cash’ scams on the rise, Insurance Fraud Bureau claims

[Image Source: Shutterstock, May 2021]

‘Crash for cash’ prevalent in Birmingham and Bradford

A recent study conducted by the Insurance Fraud Bureau has revealed 30 postcodes in which ‘crash for cash’ scams are most prevalent, with Birmingham and Bradford coming out on top.

Other popular hotspots include Walsall, Blackburn, Romford, Manchester, Luton and Leeds.

IFB Director, Ben Fletcher, commented: ‘The IFB’s hotspots analysis is a stark reminder that although great strides have been taken in tackling the problem, these car crash scams are all too common.

‘As traffic levels return to normal following the national lockdown, crash for cash fraudsters may look to make up for lost time.

‘It is hoped that by shining a spotlight on the issue, we encourage road users to be alert and report any suspicious activity to the IFB’s Cheatline.’

With further rises in ‘crash for cash’ scams expected as restrictions lift and roads become busier, the ABI has released updated guidance for what to look out for on the roads in the event that motorists believe they may be being targeted:

  • Warning signs, i.e. cars travelling unusually slowly or slowing down quickly multiple times
  • Suspicious activity after the accident, i.e. an unusually calm driver with pre-written insurance details or unexplained injuries

 The ABI also suggests motorists should ‘always maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicles in front of you’ to make you a less easy target and, in the event of being involved in an accident, ‘take notes of all relevant information including the driver, passengers and any other circumstances and take photos of the scene if it is safe to do so.’

If you suspect you may have been targeted, call IFB’s Cheatline on 0800 422 042.

 Have you been involved in a suspected ‘crash for cash’ accident? Are you concerned that you may be targeted due to the rise in such crimes?

Let us know in the comments.

Drivers think electric vehicles are too expensive, study reveals

Drivers think electric vehicles are too expensive, study reveals

A recent study conducted by the AA has revealed that a large percentage of drivers still believe electric vehicles are too expensive, putting them off making the switch.

The study asked over 15,500 drivers to give their opinion on electric vehicles, with a colossal 81% stating that they thought an electric vehicle would be ‘too expensive’ for them to buy. Many were also unaware of the government support available for drivers looking to purchase an electric vehicle in the form of a Plug-In Car Grant (PICG).

The grant scheme knocks £2,500 off the original price of an electric vehicle, as long as the listed price is £35,000 or below. The grant previously stood at £3,000 but has recently dropped to reflect the current economic situation.

Despite government efforts to push this scheme, 63% of drivers asked in the AA study claimed they had ‘never heard’ of the Plug-In Car Grant at all.

The AA suggests this could be because dealerships take the grant into account and automatically remove it from the listed price, leaving drivers to assume that this is the total cost. However, this has meant that the incentive purpose of the grant is failing to have an effect on those considering a switch to electric vehicle.

The AA believes that the lack in uptake of electric vehicles comes down to a lack of education. Drivers assume electric vehicles are expensive and aren’t actively told otherwise, so, therefore, continue to put off changing their vehicle. It also picks up on the fact that drivers have been used to petrol and diesel vehicles for so long that a change could feel daunting.

Edmund King, AA president, says:

‘After more than a century of the combustion engine leading the charge, it is not surprising that some drivers are only just catching up with all things electric.’

He also alluded to a new scheme that has recently been put into place to serve the purpose of electric vehicle ‘myth-busting.’ The scheme involves a partnership between the AA, electric vehicle review site Electrifying.com and transport minister Rachel Maclean. The scheme will play a part in educating motorists on the topic of electric vehicles, allowing them to make an informed decision when it comes to their own vehicle.

‘We are here to help petrol heads become electric heads,’ says Mr King. ‘We are delighted to join with Electrifying.com and the government to bust some of these myths.

‘The AA is determined to give power and support to all EV drivers and potential EV drivers. As the number one recovery company for EV drivers with more trained EV capable patrols than anyone else, we are here to help. The automotive future is exciting, and we will probably see more change in the next ten years than we have in the last fifty.’

Drivers think electric vehicles are too expensive, study reveals

[Image Source: Shutterstock, May 2021]

Electric vehicle pricing isn’t the only deterrent for motorists

While the perceived high price of electric vehicles may be the main deterrent to those considering an electric vehicle switch, other factors are also at play.

The same AA study confirmed that motorists had limited knowledge of electric vehicle charge points, how these work and the government provided support in place to quell these concerns.

The study revealed that 50% of those asked were unaware of the Electric Vehicle Home Charging Scheme. This scheme covers up to 75% of the cost of purchasing and installing a home charging point, with £350 being available to each household.

There were also concerns raised about the capabilities of electric vehicles within the research. For example, a concerning 77% of motorists believe that a fully charged electric vehicle will be unable to travel as far as petrol or diesel vehicles with a full tank.

To add to this, 59% of drivers think that having to charge an electric vehicle is inconvenient with charge times being too long, while 56% revealed that they were concerned about the reliability of the UK’s charging infrastructure.

To conclude the study, 56% of drivers stated that they would be ‘unwilling’ to swap their petrol or diesel car for an electric vehicle due to feeling ‘less confident’ about driving an EV.

It seems that without a ramped up electric vehicle education scheme, these statistics could put the government’s plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 in jeopardy.

Are you concerned about the high prices of electric vehicles? Do you share the same concerns as those revealed in the AA study?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

New E10 fuel could cause catastrophic damage to classic cars

New E10 fuel could cause catastrophic damage to classic cars

From September, filling stations will switch to E10 petrol – a greener alternative in line with the government’s plan to cut emissions. However, motorists are being warned that E10 is incompatible with some vehicles, including classic cars.

It is expected that the introduction of E10 petrol on UK roads will serve to reduce transport CO2 emissions by up to 750,000 tonnes per year. Still, there is growing concern over the number of motorists who will be excluded from this new scheme due to the incompatibility of their vehicles.

E10 has the potential to corrode brass, copper, lead, zinc, rubber, plastic and fibreglass, all of which are commonly found in older vehicles. And it’s not just classic cars at risk either.

Studies show that even vehicles built in the early 2000s may be negatively affected by E10. These drivers have been warned against using E10 to fill up their vehicles until it has been confirmed that it is safe to do so.

Instead, motorists with older vehicles or classic or cherished cars will need to use the more expensive super unleaded petrol, as this will be the only maintained source of E5. Its price currently stands at 136.2p-a-litre, 14p more than standard petrol.

It is thought that this will have the most significant impact on lower-income drivers who may not be able to afford to replace their older model vehicle. Instead, they will have to fork out up to £7.50 more to fill up their tank with E5.

However, AA president Edmund King has suggested the switch to E10 will be more costly for all motorists, not just those with older vehicles:

‘Introducing E10 will add to fuel costs paid by motorists. Moving from E5 to E10 is estimated to reduce pump price petrol costs by 0.2 pence per litre. However, as the energy content of the fuel will also decrease, motorists will have to buy more litres of fuel. Overall fuel costs for petrol cars are therefore estimated to increase by 1.6% as a result of moving from E5 to E10.’

Simon Williams, spokesman for the RAC, also commented:

‘The switch to E10 petrol is clearly good news for the environment and will not affect the vast majority of the UK’s 33 million car drivers although some may see the number of miles they get from a tank go down as research suggests E10 is potentially slightly less efficient.’

Despite the environmental positives E10 will provide, Edmund King suggests that the increased prices and incompatibility with some vehicles has the potential to ‘rub many drivers up the wrong way.’

New E10 fuel could cause catastrophic damage to classic cars

[Image Source: Shutterstock, April 2021]

Will your vehicle be compatible with E10?

According to research thus far, the following vehicles may be incompatible with E10:

  • Classic and cherished vehicles
  • Older vehicles, particularly those built before 2000
  • Mopeds with an engine size of 50cc or under

Because of this, the Department for Transport is suggesting motorists use their new E10 Vehicle Compatibility Checker before September to avoid potential damage to their cars.

An investigation conducted by Hagerty UK – representatives of the classic car community -warns that ‘the introduction of E10 is the most significant threat to old cars since the switch from leaded to unleaded fuel.’

Unfortunately, however, the petrol retailers Association suggest that it will be up to older car owners to make modifications to their vehicle if they wish to use E10 petrol, rather than the more expensive super unleaded alternative:

‘You’ve either got to use fuel with no ethanol or change the materials that don’t like it. If you are in any doubt about your rubber fuel lines, change them. Get rid of your fibreglass petrol tank and install an aluminium one. The other thing ethanol really doesn’t like is solder. If you are running a soldered float in your carburettor, then think about carrying a spare – they’re generally quite easy to change,’ says Guy Lachlan, Managing Director of Classic Oils.

With potential modifications or increased fuel prices in mind, Hagerty UK has said that they ‘call on the Government and Petrol Retailers Association to accelerate information campaigns for drivers and riders. There may be extensive mechanical modifications required by some models, which can be a costly exercise – during an already challenging economic environment.’

Do the environmental benefits of E10 outweigh the potential risks to classic cars? Are you concerned that your vehicle will be incompatible with E10 petrol?

Let us know in the comments.

Supermarket giant leads the way for electric vehicle charge points

Supermarket giant leads the way for electric vehicle charge points

Electric vehicle charge points have been installed at over 600 Tesco stores by the UK’s largest free electric car charging network, Pod Point.

The charge points have provided users with over 10 million miles of carbon-neutral motoring, studies reveal, and are working as part of the government’s ‘build back greener’ scheme, designed to cut carbon emissions.

Tesco’s partnership with Volkswagen and Pod Point has recently resulted in providing its 500,000th free top-up, a colossal achievement that has been welcomed by transport secretary, Grant Shapps:

‘As we accelerate towards a cleaner and greener transport future, it’s great to see one of Britain’s most iconic household names leading the way with electric vehicle charge points.

‘In the time it takes to pick up the groceries, drivers up and down the country can now quickly and easily charge their cars, and with £2.5bn of government support to encourage their take-up, there has never been a better time to switch to an EV.’

Further research into the effects of the partnership also reveals that the scheme has served to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 2,120 tonnes. James Robinson for the Mail Online suggests that this is ‘the same as or more than 2,770 acres of forest will manage in a year.’

Clearly, this is a huge step forwards for the transport industry and shows the extent of their efforts to do their part to cut carbon emissions. Director of Volkswagen, Andrew Savvas, commented:

‘Our partnership with Tesco and Pod Point emphasises our commitment to carbon-neutral mobility for all, and we’re delighted to have reached this milestone – helping owners of all-electric car brands top up with free renewable energy while they’re doing their grocery shop.’

Supermarket giant leads the way for electric vehicle charge points

[Image Source: Shutterstock, April 2021]

Tesco’s busiest electric vehicle charge points

While over 600 Tesco stores now have free charge points, several have proven to be the busiest, indicating a higher up-take of electric vehicles in these areas. The top 5 busiest Tesco charge points were located in Slough, Stourbridge, Crawley, Altrincham and Bromley by Bow. These were closely followed by other areas such as Watford, Orpington and Hampshire.

It is clear that electric vehicle owners in locations up and down the country are making the most of these free charge points.

Chief operating officer at Tesco, Tony Hodgett, commented on the overall purpose of the partnership:

‘We are committed to reducing carbon emissions in all our operations and aim to be carbon neutral in the UK by 2035.

‘As part of this, we want to encourage our customers to play their part with the rollout of free-to-use EV chargers to 600 of our stores.

‘Providing customers with charging points offers them a sustainable choice, and giving them the opportunity to charge their car for free while they shop is a little help to make this easier.’

While Tesco’s partnership with Volkswagen and Pod Point is proving to be a positive contributor to cutting emissions, experts believe that charge point rollout is not in keeping with increased demand.

In fact, What Car? editorial director, Jim Holder, suggests that the number of charge point devices available needs to be at least 10- or 20-times that the current levels to cope with frequently increasing demand.

A report conducted by the Policy Exchange think-tank reveals that the number of public charge points currently stands at 35,000. They suggest that this will need to increase to 400,000 by 2030 to keep up with demand, especially when considering electric vehicle numbers in the UK currently stand at 108,205. This is already an increase of 185 per cent compared to 2019, highlighting the rate at which demand for charge points will accelerate in the coming years.

Despite this challenging statistic, however, Tesco’s partnership with Pod Point is leading the way for the challenge to be met:

‘The partnership is making great strides towards our goal of delivering the nation’s largest retail EV charging network – one that is reliable, accessible, secure and free, making it even easier for drivers to choose electric and accelerate adoption,’ says Pod Point Founder and CEO, Erik Fairbairn.

The UK has a legal target to reduce greenhouse gases to ‘net zero’ by 2050, and it seems that partnerships such as these will pave the way for that goal to be met.

Have you charged your electric vehicle at a Tesco charge point recently? Will Tesco’s partnership with Pod Point encourage you to make the switch to an electric vehicle?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

London’s congestion charge causes pollution levels to climb

London’s congestion charge causes pollution levels to climb

London’s congestion charge – designed to reduce levels of traffic and thus harmful emissions – appears to be having the opposite of the desired effect, a study shows.

Professor Colin Green and his colleagues at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have studied pollution levels over London since the introduction of the charge in 2003. They have found that the levels of some pollutants, such as the harmful nitrogen dioxide, have risen by up to 20%.

Professor Green suggests that this is due to the increased usage of buses and taxis, both of which are exempt from the charge:

‘To get people onto public transport, the buses and black cabs were exempt from the charge,

‘Bus departures and routes were expanded after introducing the charge in the city centre. Bus and taxi traffic increased by more than 20 per cent.

‘The problem was that all the buses and London taxis ran on diesel.

Unfortunately, despite a reduction in some pollutants, the increased levels of nitrogen dioxide are a real cause for concern.

Nitrogen dioxide occurs with the burning of fossil fuels and can be dangerous or even fatal if concentration and exposure levels are high. It is a particular concern for high-risk groups such as people with asthma, children and older adults.

Nitrogen dioxide also works to trap heat, having a detrimental impact on the environment and the planet overall.

Professor Green highlights the issues with nitrogen dioxide in the study by stating:

‘Fifty thousand people are estimated to die prematurely in the UK every year due to air pollution,’ states Professor Green.

‘Before the coronavirus, exhaust was the fastest-growing cause of death globally.

‘In fact, researchers in Germany have found that exposure to exhaust leads to a sharp increase in coronavirus mortality.’

With this in mind, motorists and experts alike have begun to question whether the congestion charge – which currently stands at £15 per day – can be justified if it is not having the desired effect. Professor Green goes as far as to suggest the congestion charge scheme was flawed from the start:

‘In London, there are hardly any electric cars or buses that run on environmentally friendly fuel,

‘A tax in the most congested areas without any measure to reduce the number of diesel vehicles hasn’t had the desired effect on air quality,

‘Reducing traffic isn’t the same as reducing air pollution.’

‘We argue the NO2 increase likely reflects the incentives that the charging scheme provided to shift towards diesel-based transportation.’

The study suggests that while the government is putting into place newer schemes to drive down emissions and improve air quality across the country, older schemes should be reviewed to ensure they are in keeping with the overall mission.

London’s congestion charge causes pollution levels to climb

[Image Source: Shutterstock, April 2021]

The congestion charge may not be working, but what is?

While London’s congestion charge may not be driving down pollution as much as was once predicted, the government are frequently putting other schemes into place to help cut emissions and improve environmental health.

The first of these began with the Paris Agreement back in 2015 – an international agreement to ensure the increase in global temperature does not exceed 2 degrees Celsius.

This served to kick start other schemes: the government’s announcement to become carbon neutral by 2050, for example. This includes planting more trees and installing ‘carbon capture’ technology to reduce emissions.

Following this, the government announced that the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles would be banned by 2040, before bringing this date forward by a decade to 2030. Within this are multiple schemes to encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles, including electric vehicle grants and investment into public charge point technology.

While it is clear that the government is going above and beyond to ‘build back greener’, some environmental experts believe it is not enough. The congestion charge study has only served to support this belief further.

Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at WWF, claims that the government is: ‘out of touch with the scale of the climate challenges and that not enough is being done ‘for people and for our planet.

‘To avoid catastrophe, we need a low-carbon, nature-powered recovery – and we don’t have many chances left.’

Do you think the congestion charge is justified, or is it a flawed scheme that needs reworking? Is the government doing enough to reduce emissions and decrease levels of pollution?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Electric vehicles given huge boost by government’s £30million investment

Electric vehicles given huge boost by government’s £30million investment

Electric vehicles are set to benefit from a huge £30 million cash injection over the coming months, the government has recently announced. The plan will involve investing more funding into electric and hydrogen vehicle production in another attempt to meet the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles.

The budget will be split amongst varying projects focused on producing large quantities of high-quality electric and hydrogen vehicles that meet the government’s ‘go-green’ criteria.

A large proportion of the investment (£22.6 million) will be set aside for Faraday Institution Projects with the aim of funding early-stage commercial development across several areas. These areas will include extending battery life, battery modelling, solid-state batteries, battery safety and the recycling and reuse of batteries, to name but a few.

This will allow for further understanding of battery safety and enable manufacturers to develop electric vehicle batteries that are both sustainable and reusable.

The remaining £9.4 million will be used to bolster plans for building a plant designed specifically to extract lithium for use in electric vehicle batteries, as well as a plant dedicated to building magnets for electric vehicle motors and another for lightweight hydrogen storage for cars and vans.

The government believes that this taxpayer-backed funding will be ‘crucial’ to the success of the 2030 petrol diesel ban and the ongoing efforts to cut carbon emissions.

Gerry Grimstone, Investment Minister, commented on this latest announcement, saying:

‘We have set an ambitious target to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. To support that, it is crucial we invest research so we can power ahead with the shift to electric vehicles as we build back greener from the pandemic.’

A statement given by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Services also welcomed the announcement, highlighting specifically the positive impact it will have on the UK:

‘Research into alternative ways to power vehicles is a fundamental part of this transition, ensuring the UK remains a world leader in automotive technology and boosting jobs and skills in regions leading the way.

Chief executive at Faraday Institution, Professor Pam Thomas, also praised the investment decision and gave insight into how the institution intends to use the funding:

‘With our projects maturing and now delivering scientific discoveries we have bolstered our commercialisation team and capability and strengthened our commercialisation strategy.

‘In doing so, we are directing even more effort towards those areas of battery research that offer the maximum potential of delivering commercial, societal and environment impact for the UK.’

The investment and the doors it will open in terms of research, the government claims, will result in improved electric and hydrogen vehicle performance and allow the UK to continue leading the way to a cleaner, more sustainable transport future.

Electric vehicles given huge boost by government’s £30million investment

[Image Source: Shutterstock, April 2021]

How else is the government preparing for the switch to electric vehicles?

As well as this newly announced funding, the government is tackling their growing desire to boost electric vehicle uptake from various angles.

Motorists can currently make use of an electric vehicle grant, cutting the cost of an electric vehicle by up to £2,500. The grant aims to encourage ‘as many people as possible to make the switch to the electric vehicles as we look to reduce carbon emissions’, says Transport Minister Rachel Maclean.

There has also been a recent focus on improving charge point reliability after studies showed that motorists were deterred from making the electric vehicle switch due to charging concerns.

The new legislation will mean that every motorway service area in England will need to have at least six open-access charge points by 2023. This will increase to 2500 charge points across the road network by 2030. It will more than double again to 6000 by 2035.

RAC Spokesman, Rod Dennis, suggests that this will ensure electric vehicle charging at motorway service stations will be ‘fast, reliable and easy to pay for so drivers can make longer journeys with the minimum amount of fuss’, serving to reduce concerns about switching to an electric vehicle.

It is clear that the government’s plan to ‘build back greener’ is continuing to move forwards in the hope of hitting their 2030 milestone, and every effort is being made to encourage as many drivers as possible to make the electric vehicle switch.

Will you be making the electric vehicle switch? Are you encouraged by the government’s efforts to ‘build back greener’? Or are you satisfied with your petrol or diesel vehicle?

Let us know in the comments.

Petrol sales suffered 20% drop in 2020

Petrol sales suffered 20% drop in 2020

How often did you drive your car in 2020? With months of lockdown and year-long travel restrictions in place, you likely used your vehicle considerably less in 2020 than usual. Official statistics this week reveal that this caused petrol sales to drop by an average of 20 per cent.

Compared to 2019, the sale of unleaded dropped by 20.9 per cent in 2020, and diesel by 15.9 per cent.

Interestingly, the drop was particularly noticeable for supermarket retailers, despite them being one of the few retailers permitted to remain open across all through national lockdowns.

Statistics show that supermarkets suffered a 22.3 per cent drop in fuel sales last year, making them the worst-hit fuel retailer. It is thought that restricted travel, increased supermarket delivery options and unwillingness to travel to larger stores could be blamed for the fall.

In contrast, localised fuel retailers – often smaller and more easily accessible for drivers unwilling to travel to larger supermarkets – will have seen higher fuel sales than larger supermarket retailers. However, it is likely that a reduction in traffic will still have impacted their sales.

AA fuel spokesman, Luke Bodset, commented on the supermarket decline in petrol sales, saying: ‘The greater impact of lockdown-restricted travel on supermarket petrol sales compared to trade in general is a little surprising given that superstores have remained open throughout the pandemic.’

However, he also acknowledged that a decline was inevitable: ‘Fuel sales were always going to take a huge hit from car travel falling as low as 22 per cent (recorded in April 2020, when the toughest travel restrictions were in place) of pre-pandemic levels.’

He concluded positively, suggesting that petrol sales had not been impacted as much as had been expected:

‘However, supermarkets continuing to trade suggested better fuel sales resilience, although the boom in grocery deliveries will also have meant fewer visits to the stores’ forecourts.’

Now that restrictions are gradually lifting, an increase in travel and therefore fuel sales is being anticipated.

Chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), Brian Madderson, confirmed this expectation, stating that although ‘the drop in petrol and diesel volumes can be directly attributed to the unprecedented Covid-19 travel restrictions placed upon motorists’, he is expecting a ‘strong bounce-back’ as the country beings to open up once more.

He also suggested that despite growing numbers of electric vehicles being registered across the country, there are still over 40 million drivers who will still rely on petrol and diesel to get them from A to B:

‘While there has been growing demand for electric vehicles, their market share remains very modest.

‘With over 40 million combustion engines (ICE) vehicles still driving in the UK economy, we expect fuel volumes to experience a strong bounce-back once restrictions have been lifted for good.’

Petrol sales suffered 20% drop in 2020

[Image Source: Shutterstock, March 2021]

What will the fall in petrol sales mean for petrol prices?

During the first part of the pandemic, the price of petrol nosedived to below £1-a-litre – a low that was last recorded in 2016.

Again, much like the fall in sales, the fall in price was caused by a lack of demand, leading to oversupply and a lack of storage.

Since then, however, petrol prices have been steadily rising. It is anticipated that they will continue to do so as more and more restrictions are lifted, allowing motorists to travel further and more often again.

The RAC has suggested that by the time the current lockdown ends entirely in June of this year, we could see petrol prices hiked up to record highs, potentially reaching 143p-a-litre for petrol and 148p-a-litre for diesel.

The price of oil may also nudge prices upwards, with some analysts predicting a barrel of oil could be priced at $80, potentially even reaching $100 by 2022.

Currently, fuel prices stand at around 126p-a litre, meaning that drivers are now forking out an extra £6.33 to fill a tank than they were in the autumn of 2020.

Luke Bodset has suggested that while lifted restrictions will be a positive step forward for the economy and fuel retailers alike, it is motorists who will feel the effects of increased fuel prices:

‘As they struggle to get their working lives and family finances back on an even keel after Covid, there is going to be a real sense of being under assault for needing to drive a car.’

Did you feel the benefit of needing less fuel for travel in 2020? Are you worried that petrol prices will rise further as restrictions are lifted?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Pothole repair budget cut despite rising vehicle damage

Pothole repair budget cut despite rising vehicle damage

In February 2021, it was announced that councils will miss out on £375million of their annual road maintenance budget, meaning funding for pothole repairs has been significantly reduced.

The government’s initial promise was to afford councils £1.5billon for the upkeep of roads in Britain, but the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic means that they will now only receive £1.125billion.

The Department for Transport justified the decision by saying that the government had: ‘rightly prioritised the response to Covid-19, support jobs and supporting families at this incredibly difficult time.’

However, a study conducted by Citroen has now found that a third of drivers (32%) reported their vehicle had been damaged when hitting a pothole and had required garage repair.

The research also found that the average cost of these repairs was around £140, while some drivers reported having to fork out up to £250 to fix more extensive pothole damage.

Not only is pothole damage costing drivers money, but it also accounts for a considerable chunk of the road-related compensation paid out by local authorities in England and Wales. As reported by the latest Asphalt Industry Alliance ALARM review, local authorities paid out £8.1million in road-related compensation during 2019/2020. A colossal £5.9million of that total was for damages to vehicles caused by potholes.

It was hoped that an increase in the road maintenance budget this year would reduce the number of potholes, and therefore lower the cost of repairs for drivers and local councils alike. However, the budget cut will mean that the issue persists for longer and will continue to cause problems.

In response to the worrying amount of pothole damage, the managing director of Citroen UK, Eurig Druce, commented:

‘It is concerning to find that potholes have caused damage to nearly a third of drivers’ cars across England and Wales’ and suggested that local authorities ‘have a lot of issues to solve.’ He also recognised that there is no quick fix for pothole repairs, especially with a smaller road maintenance budget and that it would ‘take time’ to rid the nation of hazardous potholes.

Pothole repair budget cut despite rising vehicle damage

[Image Source: Shutterstock, March 2021]

March is the worst month for pothole damage

As if a budget cut and an increase in damage to vehicles caused by potholes isn’t enough to cause concern for drivers, Admiral has also found that March sees the most amount of pothole damage reports.

In a February press release, Admiral stated: ‘13% of pothole-related claims take place in March, which is more than any other month’ and that ‘pothole-related claims have increased by 30% since 2016.’

It was also noted that ‘despite restrictions in place throughout the UK for much of 2020, the number of pothole-related claims increased by 20% last year compared to 2019, showing the ongoing and increasing problems that potholes cause across major roads in Britain.’

As well as highlighting the increase in damage caused by potholes, the report also commented on the danger potholes can pose to drivers and other road users:

‘When the steering is severely damaged, it can also make it difficult for the driver to control the vehicle, which could increase the risk of accidents.’

Lorna Connelly, Head of Claims at Admiral, offered advice for drivers to help them avoid hitting potholes in such a way that could cause damage to their vehicles:

‘When you see a pothole in the road ahead, slow down to reduce the amount of damage caused to your vehicle.’

Drivers will know, however, that this is not always possible and hitting potholes is, more often than not, unavoidable.

Despite the cuts to road the road maintenance budget, however, there are a few plans in the pipeline for reducing the number of potholes on our roads.

JCB recently announced the development of a new, high-tech machine with the ability to repair potholes rapidly. The Pothole Pro will fill in a pothole in under eight minutes, accelerating repair time by 700% and thus reducing pothole-related damage.

As well as this, the Government in England has developed a ‘dedicated Pothole Action Fund’. A formula will be used to allocate funding to be shared by local authorities to either fix potholes or prevent them from forming in the first place.

In the meantime, however, it seems that it will remain the responsibility of drivers to be vigilant in their avoidance of potholes where possible.

Have you suffered pothole-related damage to your vehicle? Are you disappointed in the reduced funding for pothole repair?

Let us know in the comments.

Electric vehicle grants slashed by £500

Electric vehicle grants slashed by £500

In an effort to encourage drivers to make the electric vehicle switch to reduce emissions, the government has been subsidising 35% of the price of specific models of electric vehicles. This grant previously stood at £3,000.

As demand has increased rapidly, however, this has now been reduced to £2,500 and will exclude any models with a price of over £35,000.

The reduction has been met with contempt, particularly by car manufactures whose electric vehicle ranges will now be excluded from the grant scheme. Ford is one of those impacted manufactures and chairman, Graham Hoare, has expressed his disappointment in the reduction:

‘Today’s news from the UK Government that plug-in grants for passenger and commercial vehicle customers are being reduced is disappointing and is not conducive to supporting the zero-emissions future we all desire.’

He went on to express that without solid incentives that consumers can rely on, there may be a lack of uptake in the future:

‘Robust incentives – both purchase and usage incentives – that are consistent over time are essential if we are to encourage consumers to adopt new technologies, not just for all-electrics but other technologies too like plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that pace the way to a zero-emissions future.’

Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, also shares in these concerns, revealing that he believes ministers ‘talk-the-talk when it comes to encouraging people into cleaner vehicles, but cutting the Plug-In Car Grant certainly isn’t walking the walk.’

Mr Lyes also stated that upfront costs remain a deterrent to drivers considering switching to electric vehicles, and thus the reduction in the grant is even more cause for concern:

‘Even though more models are coming on to the market, our research suggests upfront cost remains a concern to drivers when comparing the cost of an electric vehicle with a similarly sized conventional vehicle.

‘By cutting the grant, the Government may risk people holding onto their older, more polluting vehicles for longer.’

This would, of course, have a negative impact on the government’s plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and could hold the country back in its go-green scheme.

Chief executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Mike Hawes, commented that the news of the grant slash has is the ‘wrong move at the wrong time’ and is concerned about the message it sends to drivers:

‘This sends the wrong message to the consumer, especially private consumers, and to an industry challenged to meet the Government’s ambition to be a world leader in the transition to zero-emission mobility.’

Electric vehicle grants slashed by £500

[Image Source: Shutterstock, March 2021]

Support for reduced electric vehicle grant

Despite the disappointment and concern the reduction in the electric grant vehicle has caused for motoring experts and drivers alike, others have spoken out to support the move.

In a comment referring to the ineligibility of more expensive vehicles for the grant, Whitehall sources told the Times that a reduction was the right decision, stating that taxpayers should not be subsidising people to buy cars for £50,000.’

In an attempt to quell concern, Transport Minister Rachel Maclean explained the reasoning behind the reduced grant:

‘We want as many people as possible to be able to make the switch to electric vehicles as we look to reduce our carbon emissions, strive towards our net-zero ambitions and level up right across the UK.

‘The increasing choice of new vehicles, growing demand from customers and rapidly rising numbers of charge-points mean that, while the level of funding remains as high as ever, given soaring demand, we are refocusing our vehicle grant on the more affordable zero-emissions vehicles – where most consumers will be looking and where taxpayers’ money will make more of a difference.’

She concluded by reassuring drivers and manufactures alike: ‘We will continue to review the grant as the market grows.’

However, many experts remain unconvinced. Jim Holder, What Car? editorial director summed up the shared concern by saying:

‘While it was inevitable the carrot of the grant would whittle down over time and eventually be replaced by punitive measures, this feels too soon to take another step on that journey. The 2030 combustion only ban was announced with much fanfare- the thinking behind how to make the transition to that goal appears to be worryingly muddled, with this decision being further evidence of that.’

Are you looking to make the switch to an electric vehicle? Will the reduced grant impact your decision? Or do you think the government were right to make the cut?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Car insurance cost of cover remains at four year low

Car insurance cost of cover remains at four year low

The average cost of car insurance cover has remained at a four-year low as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, This is Money suggests.

Reduced traffic on the roads and decreased settled car insurance claims over the last year have kept the average cost of private comprehensive motor insurance at around £465, a welcome result for motorists.

ABI’s manager of general insurance, Laura Hughes, reiterated the impact of the pandemic on car insurance prices:

‘The pandemic has forced many motorists to change their driving habits.

‘Predictably, lockdowns have led to far fewer vehicles on the roads, reflected in the fall in the number of motor claims.’

She also went on to praise insurance companies for offering additional insurance options to support their customers as the pandemic took its toll on finances:

‘During the pandemic, insurers have given additional support to their customers, including options for reduced mileage and help for those struggling to pay their premiums by instalments.

‘It is good to see that throughout an uncertain year, motorists continued to get the best deals from a competitive motor insurance market.’

These comments come after it was announced that the current pledge not to increase insurance costs for drivers who are having to use their vehicles to drive to and from their workplace because of Covid-19 has been extended until 30 April.

This is also the case for drivers using their vehicles for voluntary services to deliver medicine or groceries to others impacted by the pandemic – their cover will not be affected. This has also been extended to 30 April.

Some insurance companies in particular, like Admiral, have gone above and beyond to cater to their customers changing needs during the pandemic, adapting their insurance costs to match reduced car and van use during the lockdowns.

While low insurance cover costs have been a lifeline for many over the last year, Laura Hughes has also admitted that, as we emerge from the pandemic, there may be other costs that motorists have to contend with:

‘As we edge back to some form of normality, cost pressures remain, such as increasing vehicle repair costs, reflecting ever more complex vehicle technology.’

Car insurance cost of cover remains at four year low

[Image Source: Shutterstock, March 2021]

Decreased settled car insurance claims to thank for low cover costs 

In 2020, the number of settled insurance claims was reduced by 19% compared to 2019, only reaching around 2.1 million. The total number of payouts was also significantly reduced by 6%, averaging at approximately £8.3 billion.

These numbers are directly linked to decreased traffic volume, supported by numbers extracted by the AA and reported by Money Supermarket:

‘The volume of traffic on the roads at the start of lockdown (23 March) was just 35% of pre-coronavirus levels.’

This number still only rose to around 75% in June, despite many restrictions being lifted, allowing motorists to travel again in a way that more resembled normality.

Money Supermarket also suggested that: ‘The sudden dearth of cars on the nation’s roads resulted in fewer accidents and fewer claims, putting downward pressure on the cost of car insurance premiums. This far outweighed the impact of any other potential factor on the cost of car premiums.’

However, the low costs could soon be set to change as motoring groups raise concerns about increased prices after the pandemic comes to an end. Compare the Market reports that 17% of UK motorists are expecting to use their cars more after the pandemic than they did prior to the pandemic, which will lead to increased levels of traffic and thus a rise in premiums.

Head of motor insurance at Compare the Market said: ‘Motor premiums, which have fallen recently could be about to jump once more. More drivers will need to adapt their policies to include cover for commuting, and insurers may increase their prices in anticipation of more cars and more crashes on the road.’

He concluded by urging drivers to shop around for the best insurance cover costs as the pandemic draws to a close:

‘At a time when money is already tight, it’s important that motorists look to save money where they can and shopping around for the most competitive policy remains the best way to do so.’

Have you been positively impacted by the low car insurance cover costs over the last year? Are you anticipating a rise in cover costs once the pandemic comes to an end?

Let us know in the comments.