The brilliant-yet-acerbic doctor who plays the namesake on the popular Fox TV series “House, M.D.” has a disturbing mantra: “Everybody lies.”
It’s hard to argue with that statement. People lie about their health to their employers, their qualifications when applying for a job, and their expectations while on a first date. And yes, we even lie to our auto insurance companies.
How do we lie to auto insurers? Here are the eight most common fibs we tell:
- “I only drive a few thousand miles every year.” Most auto insurance companies charge people less if they don’t drive very much. The threshold for lower premiums is generally around 7,500 miles annually.
- “I only live a few miles away from where I work.” Daily job commute is a key indicator of how many miles a person drives each year. The closer you are to your workplace, the smaller your chance of getting into a wreck while driving to and from work.
- “I’m the only person who drives this car.” A large component of auto insurance premiums is the risk profile of the vehicle’s driver or drivers. That’s why some individuals may not disclose that their car is frequently driven by a spouse, teenage child, or elderly parent.
- “I am (blank) years old.” Yes, women have a reputation for lying about their age in many situations. But drivers (of either gender) know that certain age groups pay lower premiums — and some will fudge their age accordingly on their applications.
- “I’m married.” Like age, marital status affects how much people are charged for auto insurance. Since married people pay less, a new divorcee may “forget” to mention his or her new marital status to an insurance agent.
- “My teenager gets straight As.” Several auto insurers offer good student discounts for teenagers. So, in order to save money, slacker teens sometimes become honor roll students for auto insurance purposes.
- “I’m a member of (blank).” Numerous organizations can pass on auto insurance savings to their members. That’s why some individuals claim to affiliate with these groups – even if they never join or pay dues.
Like most types of lying, it only becomes a problem if you get “busted.” But tiny falsehoods can sometimes result in huge consequences for people who are caught by auto insurance companies. If an inaccuracy is discovered on a request for a policy quote, the insurance application could be denied. If the truth is revealed because you have to file a claim, the insurer could deny the claim and/or cancel your policy. In extreme cases, they could even charge you with insurance fraud. At the very least, you’ll be slapped with higher premiums (sometimes retroactively) which more accurately reflect your driving situation — and it may be more difficult to get auto insurance in the future.
See? Your mother was right when she told you to tell the truth.
Plus, you’ll definitely get a stern talking-to.
These penalties are generally reserved for people who are believed to have intentionally lied about their insurance-related information. Usually, companies won’t utilize these measures in the case of an honest oversight (like forgetting to update your information with your insurance agent). But you should know that no matter how safe you think you are in telling that little white lie, auto insurance companies have ample resources to uncover the truth.