Author Archives: Sam

  1. A Beginner’s Guide to Minibus Insurance

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    Some vehicles require specialist insurance due to the nature of their use or the number of passengers they can carry. This often applies to minibuses which are generally used to ferry people about, whether that be for free or for a fee. Generally speaking the more passengers your minibus can carry, the larger your insurance premium is likely to be.

    In this article we’re going to take a quick look at minibus insurance and when you’re likely to need it.

    What is a Minibus?

    A minibus is defined as a vehicle with nine to sixteen seats, including the driver’s seat. Anything under that will be classed by your insurance provider as an MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) or car and anything over that will be classed as a coach.

    Types of Insurance Associated with Minibuses

    If you own a minibus you need to be very clear on how you plan to use it as this will affect the type of insurance you take out and ultimately your premium. There are different types of insurance you can hold when driving a minibus:

    • Minibus Insurance
      If you’re using your minibus to ferry people from one place to another in a non-commercial situation then you’re going to need minibus insurance. This could be for a charity, church or a school or sports club.
    • Taxi Insurance
      If your minibus is being uses as to transport people for a fee then you’ll need to take out specialist taxi insurance.
    • Van Insurance (Commercial)
      If you are using your minibus for commercial purposes other than as a taxi, then it’s more likely you’ll need to take out van insurance. Van insurance doesn’t include the option of ‘social, domestic, pleasure and commuting’ class of use, so even if you use it just once to get to work you’ll need to have commercial van insurance.

    The important thing to remember about minibus insurance is to make it absolutely clear to your insurance provider what you are using the vehicle for. You should also keep your insurance provider informed of any changes in the way you use the vehicle. Failure to do this could result in your insurance becoming invalid.

    For more information on minibus insurance call and speak to one of our experts today on 03445 732 400 or visit our minibus insurance page for more details.

  2. Car Insurance Jargon Buster (Part 2)

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    Car insurance terminology can be confusing and there can be a lot of detail to take in when it comes to understanding the small print. To help cut through the confusing language and decipher some of those mysterious acronyms we’ve put together a two part car insurance jargon buster.

    In this our second part we look at everything from fault claims to write offs. For A-D please click here for part one.

    Fault Claims: When you make a claim but your insurer cannot recover the cost from the third party. This could be if you are deemed to have caused an accident or for other reasons that aren’t your fault but where there is no other known party involved such as theft or vandalism.

    FCA: The Financial Conduct Authority regulated the car insurance industry as well as other financial services companies.

    Green Card: A document that proves to non EU countries that your insurance provider provides the minimum insurance necessary to drive in the country.

    Insurable Interest: This is the basic requirement of taking out car insurance and refers to the fact you have an interest in the vehicle being insured and would suffer a loss if it were damaged.

    Main Driver: The person who drives the car most of the time as stipulated on the insurance policy.

    MID: The Motor Insurance Database is a record of every insured car in the UK.

    Optional Extras: Also known as Add Ons, these are benefits, such as breakdown cover and replacement vehicles, that can be added to your policy for a fee.

    Policy: This is the main document between you and your insurance provider. It will detail all the terms of your insurance, including the premium and term. Not to be confused with the certificate of insurance, which is required by law.

    Premium: The amount paid to your insurance provider to hold the policy. This can be paid in monthly instalments or in one yearly sum.

    Schedule: This document forms part of the contract between you and your insurer and shows things like your excess and any endorsements you might have.

    SORN: Statutory Off Road Notifications can be obtained from the DVLA are required by law if you plan on not using your vehicle and are keeping it off the public road.

    Third Party, Fire and Theft: Will cover your vehicle for theft and fire as well as damage from third parties only.

    Voluntary Excess: This is the fee you pay to your insurance provider towards the cost of a claim. You can set your own voluntary excess before taking out the policy, with a higher excess usually resulting in a lower premium.

    Write off: If the cost associated with repairing your vehicle is more than your insurance company deems the vehicle to be worth then it will be considered a write off.

  3. Car Insurance Jargon Buster (Part 1)

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    To the non-initiated, understanding all the ins and outs of car insurance can seem like learning a whole other language. As well as the array of specific terminology there are a lot of important acronyms that it really pays to understand.

    To help you make sense of this confusing array of terminology we’ve put together this insurance jargon buster. This is part 1, with part 2 to follow in January.

    ABI: The Association of British Insurers is a trade body comprised of 250 leading insurance companies and accounts for over 90% of the UK insurance market.

    Act of God: An event which is not the fault of any individual and is unpredictable such as a lightning or meteor strike. Acts of God may not be covered in your policy and are often separate from extreme weather events like flooding or falling trees.

    Betterment: A payment made by an insured party that recognises the fact that their vehicle will be worth more as the result of repairs relating to an insurance claim.

    Certificate of insurance: This is a document that is required by law and shows the car being insured, who is allowed to use the car and the classes of use (see below).

    Class of Use: A term used by insurance companies to determine what you use your car for and how often. There are three classes of use: Social, domestic and pleasure; Commuting; Business use The class of use you select will often have a big bearing on your insurance premium. It’s very important you are certain what class you fall into as supplying inaccurate information could invalidate your policy.

    Comprehensive cover (or fully comprehensive): This will cover you and your vehicle as well as the vehicles of third parties if you are at fault.

    Compulsory excess: This is a set amount you need to pay to your insurer when making a claim. The level of your compulsory excess will depend on how much of a risk you are judged by the insurer.

    Conviction Code: If you commit a motoring offence the DVLA (see below) will add a four digit conviction code to your licence.

    Cover note: A document that shows you have temporary car insurance while your insurer is preparing your policy documents and certificate of insurance. Some insurance companies don’t issue cover notes and will instead issue you with a certificate on the day you accept the insurance.

    Duty of disclosure: When you take out a car insurance policy you have a duty to inform your insurer of any changes in your circumstances, such as change of address or a modification to your car.

    DOC: Drive Other Cars (DOC) is a type of cover that some insurance policies will include and means you are insured to drive another person’s car, with their permission. This will usually only be third party cover and cannot be for day to day use.

    DVLA: The Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency is the body responsible for issuing licences and collecting car tax for all drivers in Great Britain.

     

  4. Car Insurance Myths Debunked

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    There are a lot of pervasive myths when it comes to car insurance and car insurance companies. A lot of them are born out of simple misunderstandings that then get exaggerated. Others may only apply to the majority of insurance companies but aren’t a hard and fast rule.

    Below are some common car insurance myths debunked.

     

    • Personal property in my car is covered
      Although your car insurance will cover you for the theft of your vehicle and any damage sustained to it as the result of an accident or a criminal act, any personal property you have in the car is not covered. That’s worth bearing in mind next time you leave your expensive golf clubs in the boot.
    • Courtesy cars are standard on car insurance policies
      Some insurance policies will include a courtesy car as standard but many others will only offer this service as an optional extra, whilst some won’t offer it at all. If you take an insurance policy out with us at DNA we will supply you with a replacement vehicle if the accident wasn’t your fault.
    • I can keep my costs down by becoming a named driver on my parent’s insurance
      Becoming a named driver on someone else’s insurance policy means you cannot be the main driver of that vehicle. This is often done by parents to keep insurance costs down for a son or daughter who has just passed their test and is known as ‘fronting’, which can land you with a large fine and six points on your licence. For a young driver this means a ban.
    • A speeding ticket will automatically cause my premium to rise
      This isn’t always the case and will vary from insurer to insurer. Quite often three points on your licence will have no bearing on your premium, although multiple points may start to see your insurance costs rise.
    • I won’t be able to get car insurance if I have a driving conviction
      Although many insurance companies won’t insure you if you have a conviction for a driving offence like drink driving that doesn’t mean you can’t get insured. At DNA Insurance we offer insurance to drivers with criminal or motoring convictions.

     

    There are a lot more myths concerning car insurance but like so many things in life it pays not to believe everything you hear and take the time do a your own research. You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.

    If you have a motoring conviction or have been banned from driving in the past, visit our Convicted Driver Insurance page to see how we can help you get back on the road. Alternatively give one of our friendly team a call on 03445 732400.

  5. DNA Christmas / New Year Opening Times

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    Please Note: Friday the 18th December is our DNA christmas party so the office will be shutting at 6pm and we are shut on the 19th December but we are back open normal hours Monday 21st December – please contact us beforehand if you have any queries.

    DNA CHRISTMAS & NY OPENING TIMES:
    Thursday 24th Dec 9am to 2pm
    Friday 25th Dec Closed
    Saturday 26th Dec Closed
    Sunday 27th Dec Closed
    Monday 28th Dec Closed
    Tuesday 29th Dec 9am to 7pm
    Wednesday 30th Dec 9am to 7pm
    Thursday 31st Dec 9 am to 2pm
    Friday 1st Jan Closed
    Saturday 2nd Jan Normal Hours
  6. 82% Increase in Pothole Related Breakdowns

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    Cast your mind back to the winter of 2013 and, as well as the freezing conditions, you may also remember the terrible state that bitterly cold weather left many of our roads in.

    And yet despite two mild winters since, earlier this year, the RAC reported a staggering 82% increase in suspension spring related call-outs. In fact, by February the RAC had attended 7,500 breakdowns of this nature, compared to just 4,000 in 2014 and 5,600 in 2013.

    This type of damage to a car is almost always the result of poor road surfaces and as such related breakdown callouts make for a good measure of road surface quality. Potholes can also wreak havoc not only on your car’s suspension springs but also on shock absorbers and even tyres and wheels.

    Such is the state of the problem that the RAC has teamed up with the pothole reporting site Street Repairs to create a new app to help people report potholes. The app will also allow reporting of other highway problems and uses GPS to send the data back to the RAC, where it is then forwarded onto the relevant local authority. The hope is that potholes will be identified and fixed before they get much worse and start damaging car’s suspension.

    It might be a small gesture but it’s initiatives like this that could help save UK drivers money as potholes continue to be a problem. Clearly the public perception is that the problem isn’t going away either, with RAC research finding 41% of motorists surveyed were worried about the state of the roads.

    So what does the future hold? Well, there’s no doubt that the suspension of modern cars is far better equipped to deal with these unexpected bumps in the road but that may not be enough if potholes get too severe.

    The two factors at play here are weather and funding. With the effects of climate change being linked to more extreme weather events, like flooding and cold snaps, and continuing cuts to council budgets in the immediate future, this problem could get a lot worse before it gets better.

    For more information on adding breakdown cover to your DNA insurance policy, call one of our friendly team today on 08445 732 400.

  7. Boris Johnson Weighs into Uber Debate

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    Links:

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/oct/05/boris-johnson-accuses-uber-of-systematically-breaking-the-law

    Currently Uber has 18,000 drivers (or registered partners as Uber likes to refer to them) in London alone. By offering cheaper fares and the ability for customers to effectively hail cabs via GPS and an app, traditional black cab drivers have accused Uber of undermining their business by flouting the law and allowing unlicensed drivers. In May they took to the streets to protest about it, bringing traffic to a standstill in parts of central London.

    Into this debate has weighed Boris Johnson, caught between proponents of Uber, who say it is offering customers reasonable taxi fares in the capital and creating thousands of jobs, and those who say it is destroying the black cab profession and pushing drivers into poverty.

    Transport for London (TfL) are currently in a high court row with Uber over whether its app acts as a meter, something which would make it illegal in the capital, as only licensed cabs are allowed to operate meters. Uber has retaliated, claiming that TfL is just trying to protect black car drivers by curtailing its business.

    TfL has also launched a consultation to consider proposal to force Uber drivers to wait at least 5 minutes before picking up a booked fare (the average time is 3 minutes).

    It’s worth noting at this point that, as well as being Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is also chair of TfL. This clearly puts him between a rock and a hard place, with some accusing him of supporting a black cab ‘cartel’.

    The fine line Johnson is walking can be seen in his Telegraph column, where he starts by defending ‘rampant, frothing, free-market Conservatives’ who ‘hate cartels’, referring to the TfL’s attempts to curb Uber practices and protect London cabbies.

    He goes on, however, to talk passionately about the professional black cab industry, by pointing out the distinction between private hire vehicles and hackney carriages, whose drivers must pass ‘the Knowledge’ before they are allowed to drive. Johnson then goes onto openly accuse Uber’s technology as facilitating law breaking:

    “You only have to consider the habits of many Uber minicabs – not all, but many – to see that this law is systematically broken; and that is because technology makes it so easy for it to be broken.”

    The ability for technological progress to constantly disrupt traditional industry is a historical fact not lost on Johnson. His calls seem to be for a balanced approach, where both parties can coexist; Uber as a convenient and cheap service and black cabs as a highly professionalised institution. Whether this is true intention is another question entirely.

     

  8. The Top Three Causes of a Motor Vehicle Breakdown (and how to Spot them)

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    Whether it’s happened to you or not, breaking down and getting stranded with your vehicle by the side of the road is everyone’s idea of a nightmare. Whilst it is strongly advisable to take out motor breakdown cover, it is possible to spot some problems before they occur.

    We’ve looked at what the experts say (including Which, the AA, the RAC and Green Flag) and summarised four of the top causes of motor vehicle breakdown as well as how to spot them.

    Flat Battery

    The number one culprit of all breakdowns (between 18% and 20% according to the experts), especially in the winter months, is a flat or faulty battery. Flat batteries are more common with vehicles that only take short journeys. This doesn’t allow the battery to properly charge properly, running it down faster. If this is you, then try to take your car for a longer drive every now again if possible. Also make sure the terminals are protected from corrosion with a layer of petroleum jelly or grease every time your car is serviced.

    How to spot: The engine may turn over more slowly and the red battery light on the dashboard may start to flicker.

    Lost Keys

    Although not technically a cause of a mechanical or electrical breakdown, lost keys are responsible, rather embarrassingly, for a huge number of callouts. There’s not really much more to say about this than keep a spare set and try not to lose them if you’re out. Car dealers will be able to order you a replacement set but this can take weeks.

    How to spot: A growing sense of panic, followed by that sinking feeling of knowing you’ve totally screwed up.

    Flat Tyre or Blowout

    The most common culprit for a blowout or flat is under inflating your tyres. This is easily avoidable simply by making sure you change them when necessary and making sure the tyre pressure is correct. Sometimes a flat is unavoidable if you hit debris in the road, so always make sure you carry a spare tyre with you as well as the means of fitting it, no matter how good a condition your tyres are in beforehand.

    How to spot: Sluggish steering and one tyre losing pressure faster than the others could be signs you have a slow puncture.

    Other Culprits

    These three causes of motor vehicle breakdown are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to breakdown. Other major culprits include, faulty starter motors, alternators, distributor caps, spark plugs and fuel problems (using the wrong fuel). Most are avoidable by getting your car in for a regular service and checking things like tyre pressure oil levels yourself.

    For more info on what to do in case of a breakdown, the AA have produced this very useful guide.

    At DNA Insurance, most of our policies come with the option of breakdown cover. Call one of our team for more details on 08445 732 400.

  9. Motorists Warned About Problems Hiring Cars Abroad

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    Motorists going abroad after 8 June are being warned they will need to take a special code with them if they want to hire a car.

    From that date the paper counterpart of British driving licences – which records endorsements and fines – is being computerised.

    Anyone wanting to hire a car abroad will officially need a code to show convictions for offences like speeding.
    To obtain it, motorists will have to log on to the DVLA website beforehand.

    But the code is only valid for 72 hours, so anyone wanting to hire a car more than three days into their trip will need to generate a new code while they are abroad.

    For those who do not have internet access, a phone number will also be made available.

    The RAC said many drivers were unaware of the changes.

    “Our research shows that with just over a month to go before the paper counterpart to the photo-card licence disappears, 55% of drivers are not aware of the planned change,” said RAC spokesman Simon Williams.

    ‘Belt and braces’

    The DVLA recommends destroying paper counterparts after 8 June.

    However the AA is advising people to hang on to the document, in case some hire companies are unaware of the new arrangements.

    “Not all car rental companies, or indeed traffic police abroad, will be aware of the changes, so a ‘belt and braces’ approach of also taking the counterpart might help,” said AA president Edmund King.

    But the AA also said that hiring a car abroad without a paper counterpart is not always a problem.

    Just as some car hire companies do not currently ask for a counterpart, not all will ask for a code after 8 June.
    The old-style paper licences, issued before the photo card was introduced in 1998, will remain valid, but holders will still need a code to fully validate them.

    To view a record of their convictions, motorists can log on to the View My Driving licence page of the government website.

    They will need their driving licence number, their national insurance number and their postcode.

    The changes do not apply to driving licences issued by the DVA in Northern Ireland.

    Source: BBC News

  10. Triple Top Ten For Thompson on VW Cup Bow

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    – Thompson masters challenging Oulton Park circuit on exceptional series debut.
    – “Bobby is a star of the future,” says ‘delighted’ team boss.

    Hornchurch’s fastest teenager Bobby Thompson made a sensational debut in the hotly contested Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup over the Easter weekend, scoring a trio of top ten finishes in the first three races of the year at Oulton Park despite never having been to the challenging Cheshire venue until two days before the first race.

    Eighteen year-old Thompson shrugged off the lingering effects of the flu as well as Oulton Park’s fearsome reputation as a track where ‘you don’t have a small accident’ to put his fully race prepared Team HARD VW Golf GTI R Cup race car in the top five during pre-race testing despite having less than half a day to learn the undulating, tree-lined 2.692-mile circuit.

    “As we were driving to the track we said that our goal would be to get a top ten finish,” said Thompson, who is known throughout the paddock as ‘Bobster. “As soon as I got on track I loved the circuit, it’s very bumpy and some of the sections through the woods are fantastic. It’s a track that requires a lot of commitment and I quickly learned that being brave can really reward you with a good lap.”

    After precious few minutes to learn the track it was straight into qualifying and the first of three 20-minute races on Saturday but with nearly 30 cars all vying for a free piece of racetrack, Thompson found himself trapped in traffic at the most critical moment during the timed session.

    “I felt I missed an opportunity in qualifying,” said Thompson, who is part of Team HARD’s burgeoning Young Driver Programme. “The tyres have a really short window in qualifying trim and I just missed it but it is all part of the learning experience for me.”

    Despite failing to get a single clear lap, Bobby was still fast enough to ensure his striking #19 DNA Insurance Services/Go HAM Clothing/Racehub backed entry ended qualifying in ninth place overall, guaranteeing the driver who enjoyed a glittering karting career in the Lewis Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone backed Formula Kart Stars Championship before his move into car racing a top ten start in both race one and race three. “I can’t be too disappointed as everyone in the top ten is a former series champion, a series race winner or an ex British Touring Car driver.”

    There were no sign of any pre-race nerves before the opening race of the year, although, as Bobby himself put it “the goal was to bring the car home in one piece” and there was a frightening moment when the lights turned green as a multiple car pile-up brought out the red flags and meant the race would be shortened.

    “I knew the car had a good set-up and I had talked through our strategy with the team mechanics Les, Ben and Elliott, who have all made me feel really welcome in the team,” recalled Bobby. “We know that the Golf’s aren’t as quick as the VW Scirocco’s in a straight line but the Scirocco’s are harder on their tyres so as the races progress we can claw back an advantage. However with race one being shorter than we expected we never got the chance to take advantage of that.”

    Even with fewer laps than planned Thompson was still able to hold on to the lead group, which included former series champions Aaron Mason and Joe Fullbrook to bring the #19 machine home in ninth place, a result he was justifiably proud of.

    “Overall I was really pleased with the first race even if the chequered flag came out a bit too early for me,” said Thompson, who enjoyed a relaxing Easter Sunday off before tackling rounds two and three of the championship on Bank Holiday Monday.

    Starting ninth for race two, which took place on an extremely chilly Monday morning, Thompson learned another valuable lesson very quickly when he realised the track temperature was far below what he had asked his team to set the car up for.

    “As soon as we went out onto the pace lap I knew I wasn’t in an ideal situation and I just couldn’t get enough heat in the rear tyres,” said Thompson, who still managed to maintain ninth position until the closing stages, when a recovering Lucas Orrock demoted him to tenth. “I found it tough to stay in touch with the leaders and it was my fault as I asked the team for the wrong set-up but I’m still learning and part of that proves is to learn from my mistakes.”

    With temperatures climbing throughout the day Bobby knew that he would be in better shape for the final race on a much warmer track and, from ninth on the grid he made an excellent start to run in seventh place for the opening few laps. With a top six finish within his grasp Bobby began to push the limits even further around some of Oulton Park’s more difficult sections.

    “There is a really fast double right hander between the trees called Church Corner,” smiled Thompson. “At the start of the weekend I was doing 110mph into the corner before touching the brakes, flicking the car into the turn and then getting back on the power. I could see sixth place ahead of me and for a few laps I noticed that coming into the same corner I was now doing 120mph before turning in!!

    “Unfortunately I used the best of my tyres trying to get into sixth and at the end I was caught by two other drivers and they pushed me back to ninth so I learned another valuable lesson that I’ve got to manage my tyres better over the course of a full 20 minute race but I was still really pleased that I could bring home another top ten finish for my team and my sponsors. I was really pleased to be able to keep DNA Insurance Services in the top ten as it is their first race with me and they are a local business who has put their faith in me.”

    Bobby’s Team HARD team boss Tony Gilham was full of praise for his young charger, who currently lies tenth in the overall championship.

    “Bobby is an exceptional young talent and a joy to work with,” said Gilham, whose team also competes in the prestigious British Touring Car Championship. “Already he has shown front running pace, which is way ahead of the schedule we had forecast. He has adapted unbelievably well to front wheel drive and is for sure a star of the future. But not only that, he has the desire and commitment and the perfect attitude to go to the very top and we are all glad to have the man known as ‘Bobby T’ racing for Team HARD.”

    After making guest appearances on Simon Baldock’s Saturday afternoon show on Time FM and on motorsport radio station Downforce Radio in the build-up to the season opener, Bobby’s fans can watch all the Oulton Park action on Motors TV in the coming weeks and Bobby is hoping that the extra media attention that comes with racing in Britain’s best supported saloon car series will help him secure some much needed additional funding that will allow him to do some testing before the next rounded of the championship at the Rockingham Motor Speedway near Corby on May 3rd and 4th.

    To find out more about Bobby’s racing activities please visit www.bobbythompson.co.uk or follow his twitter feed @BTMotorsport