Car insurance companies exploit child safety seat fear to make money

The provision of ‘child car seat cover’ gives an interesting insight in to the way providers market their policies to drivers. A look at motor insurance policies shows almost 50% of insurers now offer specific cover for children’s safety seats compared to just 3% in 2004. So what has prompted the change in thinking?

In September 2006, a law was introduced that means all under-12s must have a child safety seat when travelling as a passenger in a car. The obvious thought for a driver is that car insurance would already cover damage or replacement of a child safety seat in the same way as other belongings in a car.

The cynics would say car insurers manipulated the law change as an opportunity to charge more by highlighting the risk of a calamity befalling a child if the seat was not correctly fitted and maintained.

Once this risk is pointed out, then the insurer can sell a solution to doting mums and dads who want to do the best for their kids. The figures go like this, according Defaqto, an independent financial services watchdog:

In 2004, five out of 150 available policies offered child seat cover. In 2006, this rose to 18 out of 158 and then more or less doubled every year until 2009 when 79 out of 219 policies provided cover.

About 47% of standard comprehensive motor insurance policies now include this cover, although the details vary from insurer to insurer. Some policies offer a nominal sum to replace the seat, while others replace it irrespective of whether any damage has been caused.

Insurance expert Mike Powell, who produced the report for Defaqto, said: “On 18 September 2006, the law changed to state that all children under the age of 12 must use a child car seat when they are a passenger in a car. An obvious need arose for cover to be provided for fitted and booster car seats. Some insurers were already ahead of the game and had added cover to their policies.”

While 79 policies now include child safety seat cover, 140 choose not to, but many still offer cover through their standard terms. Before paying out for child safety seat cover, drivers should ask whether the extra cost is really worth it – not because failing to buy in to the insurance company’s marketing leaves a child at risk, but because the insurer is perhaps exploiting parents’ fear and need to abide by the law to make money.

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