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Ask an expert: ‘Will a chip in my windscreen send my car insurance soaring?’

Find out how minor claims can affect a no-claims discount

Every week, Which?’s money experts answer your financial queries. You can submit your questions to money-letters@which.co.uk, or via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Q. I have a chip in my windscreen that I’d like to get repaired. If I have it done under my comprehensive car insurance policy with the Post Office, will it be treated as a claim and affect my no-claims discount, making my car insurance more expensive?

Submitted by M Toerien, via the Which? Money Helpline.

A. First, it’s important to understand what a no-claims discount or bonus is, and the benefits it can provide to a careful and responsible driver.

A no-claims bonus is a discount car insurers offer you if you can stay claim free for an extended period of time.

Depending on which insurer you are with, every year you go without a claim will lead to a larger discount. The discounts can be as high as 70%, usually built-up over a maximum of five years of claim-free driving.

Generally, a no-claims discount will be cut if you make a claim, but the size of the cut varies between insurers.

Insurers also have different policies on whether a claim that isn’t your fault will affect your bonus, or if you can retain your discount if you have a prang with an uninsured driver.

If you do need to call on your insurer, read our guide to making a successful car insurance claim.

Will a windscreen claim delete my discount?

When it comes to windscreen repair, you needn’t have worried. Our Money Helpline spoke to the Post Office and it confirmed that you would be able to keep your no-claims discount if you made a claim on your insurance policy.

In fact, of the 31 policies we rate in our expert analysis, only one will reduce your discount if you claim for windscreen repair.

And the same tends to apply to sunroof or window damage, too.

Can I protect my no-claims discount?

However, if you do get into an accident and need to make a claim, that doesn’t mean you have to wave goodbye to your reward for years of good driving. You can pay a little extra to buy ‘no-claims discount protection.’

You’ll typically have to pay 10% to 15% of your car insurance premium to protect your discount – and there’s some additional flexibility added.

Most insurers allow you to make two claims over a three year period without losing your discount if you’ve paid out to protect it.

Could my premiums still rise?

Remember, a no-claims discount does not protect your premium.

If you make a claim your insurer will take this into account and the cost of your cover may increase while the percentage discount you get may remain the same.

And even if you’ve had a claim-free year, a no-claims discount may not prevent you being affected by wider rising premiums.

This year, for example, drivers could see their premiums soar by 10% through a combination of tax rises on insurance and a change in the way compensation claims paid out by insurers are calculated.

Find out how you can keep your premiums down in our guide to getting cheap car insurance.

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