Drivers have spent £25.6 billion less on vehicle expenses since the start of lockdown in March 2020, reveals new research from Direct Line Motor Insurance. As restrictions and changes to working patterns have reduced the usage of their vehicles, owners have spent £670 less annually than they would normally, or £56 a month. This equates to a combined total of £2.1 billion reduction in vehicle related costs every month across the UK.
As part of Direct Line’s Mileage MoneyBack initiative, the insurer is providing both new and existing customers with a refund on the miles they don’t drive. Customers who register, could receive two per cent of their premium back for every 1,000 miles they don’t drive, up to a maximum of 20 per cent of their premium returned.
According to the research, the pandemic has led to an uplift in vehicle ownership, even as motorists are saving significant amounts in running costs. In fact, 1.4 million people have purchased a car for the first time since Covid-19 restrictions came into force last year as they look for ways to travel which don’t involve public transport. Last summer Insurance Edge reported that AutoTrader had seen a sharp rise in demand for 10-15 year old petrol/diesel cars. Maybe people have used some of that furlough cash, or savings on commuting, to buy a modern classic, or the sporty car they always wanted, rather than a penny-pinching 50mpg vehicle?
MORE PARKED CARS, LOWER ANNUAL MILEAGE
Even with more people owning cars, the number of miles driven has reduced substantially. With 13.9 million drivers having reduced the number of miles driven compared to the number cited on their insurance policy. Individually drivers are making 2.3 fewer journeys each week, equating to 88 million jointly. This reduction in journeys means fuel has been the biggest saving for motorists during the pandemic. Each driver has spent around £20 per month less on fuel, amounting to a staggering £780.6 million collectively across the country.
Regionally, those living in the North West are spending considerably less on petrol during lockdown than anywhere else in the UK. Motorists in the region are putting £43 less fuel in their cars now per month than before Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in March 2020. This is followed by those in the East of England (£28.50) and Wales (£24.70).
SERVICING? NAH, I’LL WAIT TIL IT BREAKS DOWN
Further to this, car owners are now spending less when it comes to areas of vehicle upkeep.
Expenditure on maintenance, such as MOTs and servicing, is now £13.70 lower a month than before March 2020, and repairs are £9.90 lower than before. Despite fewer people traveling into towns and city centres for work or pleasure, the cost of parking has increased by an average of 50p, says Direct Line. Expect more increases and ULEZ charges, as Councils seek to ban cars, especially petrol/diesel ones, from city centres over the next 5 years.
Motorists do need to remember that although they are driving much less, they need to continue maintaining their vehicle. It seems many are not conducting the same level of car checks they would do normally, with 6.3 million motorists carrying out fewer checks on tyre pressures than pre-pandemic. One in six (17 per cent) are not checking screen wash as frequently, while oil levels (13 per cent), lights, electrics and brakes (all 12 per cent), also seem to have fallen down the priority list.