What do you need to know before buying your child a car?

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Posted by Crispin Moger on 26 November 2014

"Young drivers and their parents will often start searching for a used car rather than a new model as their only perceived affordable option, but this isn't always the case. The older the car, the higher the costs of maintenance, tax and insurance - and some young driver insurance policies will not insure older cars making life difficult if the purchase has already been made.

"Aside from these additional costs, there is also the critical issue of safety. Whilst it's galling to think that your youngster's first car will be newer than the vehicle you currently own, you need to consider the safety implications.

"Research shows that young drivers are most at risk of being in an accident when they are inexperienced and haven't accrued the road hours that help them to judge and react in a safe manner. So while you may be perfectly safe in an older car, with your 20+ years' driving experience, that may not be the case for your child. In our experience, if a young driver has been involved in an accident and a replacement vehicle is needed, the parents will always seek to buy a newer car.

"One of the major improvements to the safety of young drivers in recent years has been telematics. Installing a black box in your child's car has many benefits, not least that it makes them think about their driving when behind the wheel. Marmalade takes this one step further and if a journey is deemed to contain dangerous driving it is flagged as red to the customer services team, who will call the driver within 24 hours to discuss the issues and how to ensure they don't happen again. This not only enables Marmalade to offer low premiums from the outset and keep them low but has also meant that only 1 in 20 of Marmalade drivers are involved in an accident, compared to the national average of 1 in 5 of that young age group.

"Aside from helping your child to drive safely, telematics can also help if there is an accident. If it wasn't your child's fault, it may help to prove their case and if there is an accident you can quickly and easily check in to the telematics system to find out where the car is. Similarly if it is stolen, you will be able to keep track of the vehicle.

"So when looking to buy a car there are several things you should look for in order to keep costs low:

* Engine size: The more powerful the engine, the more risk of the young driver speeding and driving dangerously. We recommend a maximum size of 1.4 for young drivers and won't insure anything larger.

* Optional extras: You may find a good deal for car that has alloys, tinted windows and all the trimmings, but beware as these are all features that drive up the cost of insurance for young drivers.

* Age of the car: Not only are older cars less robust in crashes, but the newer the car, the more safety features it is likely to have. Anti-lock Brakes (ABS) have been a standard feature of all new cars since 2004 and help the driver to keep control of the car in an emergency. Additional features such as electric windows and steering wheel audio control adapters help to reduce distractions for drivers and enable them to remain focused on the road.

In addition, if a car is new it will not require an MOT for three years.

* Telematics: Look for a car that will work with a telematics-based insurance policy as this may well help to keep you child safe on the roads.

Marmalade's Fuel&Go provides a brand new car for drivers as young as 17 from just £129 per month and 12 months' free insurance. For more details, visit the Marmalade website.

About the Author

Crispin Moger
Crispin Moger

As the CEO of Marmalade, and having spent 20 years working in the motor and insurance industry, I feel strongly about helping young drivers to get on the road in a safer, fairer and simpler way. Outside work I'd describe myself as a hard rock loving adventure sports fan, who loves to travel.