Jun 192017

It’s a very exciting month for the team at Warranty Direct, as we announce our 20th anniversary, since beginning trading in 1997!

With the typical motor manufacturer’s warranty lasting only 3 years, a large number of cars did not hold any form of extended mechanical and electrical repair insurance. There were little forms of protection for vehicles coming out of the standard manufacturer’s warranty; motorists could find themselves facing unexpected and costly repair bills to fix their car if anything was to suddenly go wrong.

When trading began in 1997, Warranty Direct was the UK’s first direct consumer warranty company offering innovative products with the customer at the forefront of everything we do. This has been achieved by handling all forms of the warranty ourselves – directly. We don’t just sell customers their warranties; we also handle the claims process with the help of our trained engineers. Our trusted garage network of preferred repairers, have helped to minimalise the hurdles a customer might encounter when claiming on their warranty.

We firmly believe we have achieved this mission, with our 20th anniversary serving as testament that we put our customers at the forefront of everything we do. Our service has earnt high praise from our customers and has resulted in us being awarded the Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant award for 2016 – an achievement through customer feedback alone.

We are proud to say we are the longest operating insured warranty provider in the UK.

A lot has changed since we arrived on the scene in the late nineties but we have remained focused on providing industry leading cover by improving our products and services.

In 2005, Warranty Direct became regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) now known as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which has helped to bolster our products and services for consumers. This added protection for policies allows customers to contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This has helped to establish Warranty Direct as one of the industry leading providers of extended motor warranties.

We have even gone beyond providing warranties. One of the biggest inclusions to our products and services was GAP insurance which was launched in September 2011 and has become an equally popular product for our customers.

Standing as an industry leader has helped build a number of high-profile business partnerships with companies such as What Car? and Auto Trader. This has led to Warranty Direct becoming the headline sponsor for the What Car? Car of the Year awards since 2013 and more recently this year’s AutoCar awards held at The Wing on Silverstone Racecourse.

We also own a number of informative websites designed to help consumers with some of today’s biggest motoring challenges. The most noteworthy has been the Reliability Index which was started in 2005 using data from paid Warranty Direct claims to establish the reliability of used vehicles currently on the market. The website was then updated in 2010 to incorporate the ability to compare vehicles, select vehicle types (Family, MPV, etc) and consult buying guides. The index has been a colossal success and is not only highly regarded by motoring professionals and enthusiasts, but has also generated huge media interest, with our data being covered in a variety of national newspapers including the Sunday Times, The Daily Mail and The Guardian – to name but a few!

Commenting on our latest business achievement, Warranty Direct’s CEO Simon Ackers said:

“We are delighted to have reached such a significant business milestone and I am really proud of the team’s hard work and dedication to making this a flourishing business, which puts its customers first. We depend on consumer recommendations, in order to grow – so we want to say a huge thank you to all our customers for their invaluable support and insight which has made us who we are. May the success of Warranty Direct continue for many years to come!”

There’s no doubt there will be much celebrating at Warranty Direct this month and we wanted to share some of our ‘best bits’ with you in our list of company highlights below.

We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did achieving it!

Jun 182017

2017 has already been a year of big changes to UK driving laws. New, tougher penalties are being introduced by the government in an attempt to keep all motorists, cyclists and pedestrians as safe as possible.

A recent survey conducted by Warranty Direct revealed one in four Brits endanger themselves and others on motorways due to a worrying lack of awareness of current UK driving laws. To make sure you are up to date with the new laws, we have summarised some of the biggest changes happening below and included all the information consumers need to ensure they are not caught out by updated motoring legislation.

A tougher stance on mobile phones at the wheel

Studies by the Transport Research Laboratory showed driving while texting affected reaction times by around 35 percent*. The government has already banned the use of mobile phones behind the wheel, but some motorists continue to use phones in a dangerous manner when driving.

In the past, if you were caught using a mobile at the wheel, you could expect three points on your licence and a £100 fine. From 1st March 2017, new laws were introduced to see those penalties doubled. Being caught using your phone in any capacity while driving will now leave you with six points on your licence and a fine of £200.

Beware new drivers – under the new law, being caught using a mobile just once could mean having to sit your driving test all over again!

Late for work? Think twice before speeding

On April 24 this year, a strict new set of rules came into force, splitting speeding penalties into ‘bands’ which could see fines for those caught dramatically increase. For simplicity, these brands have been dubbed A, B and C.

The Band A speeding fine category would be appropriate if you are caught speeding between 31-40 in a 30mph zone, and you can expect to receive a fine equivalent to 50% of your weekly income and 3 penalty points on your driving licence.

For those doing between 41-50mph in 30mph zone, the Band B category speeding fine means facing a fine equivalent to 100% of your weekly income, and 4 penalty points on your driving licence, or disqualification from driving for up to 28 days.

The Band C speeding fine category comes into place to anyone speeding at 51mph or above in a 30mph limit (for example) and they face a fine equivalent to 150% of their weekly income and 6 penalty points on their driving licence. They could also face disqualification from driving for up to 56 days.

By way of comparison, the average speeding fine handed out in 2015 was just £188**.

Taking it easy with the speed on the road will not only help you to avoid costly fines. Reducing acceleration and harsh braking also means less wear and tear on your vehicle and this equates to less claims on your car warranty.

Taxing your car could be costly

A major issue going into 2017 is the growing level of pollution in the country from our motors. London took just one week to break the annual air pollution limits in 2016***. To help tackle this growing problem, the government has introduced a further tax to help reduce emissions.

The old car taxing system allowed lower tax, or even exemption, if you had a low emissions car. From April 2017 unless you drive a 100 percent electric car, any new vehicles will be charged at a tiered first-year rate based on its CO2 emissions. This could mean even people looking for a small, fairly economical car could be paying significantly more on vehicle tax. For example: owning a Ford Fiesta 1.0T Ecoboost with CO2 emissions of 99g/km, originally meant a driver paid no Vehicle Excise Duty. However, you could now pay up to £120 in the first year and £140 annually thereafter^.

We’d recommend anyone thinking of purchasing a new car to ensure they research all the possible costs associated with purchasing their desired model. This will help buyers work out whether they can actually afford the vehicle they are considering and prevent any costly surprises!

Remember this only applies to new cars bought after April – if you already own a car, or will be buying one registered before April 2017, there will be no changes to how much you pay.

Big changes to the driving test in 2017

The practical driving test is on course to change this year with updates that will have a big impact on current learners.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, the changes will include:

  • Increasing the test’s ‘independent driving’ section from 10 to 20 minutes so examiners can judge your driving ability more accurately in real-world driving conditions.
  • Asking you to follow a sat nav’s directions during the ‘independent driving’ section
  • Replacing the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ with manoeuvres such as driving into and reversing out of a parking bay to demonstrate more likely day-to-day driving scenarios
  • Asking one of the two vehicle safety questions while you are driving so your multi-tasking skills can be judged.
  • Allowing learners on to motorways
  • A proposed 120 hours of practical driving may need to be undertaken before a test can be taken.

It’s important for all drivers to make sure they are prepared for the changes in driving legislation. Not only will this help you to avoid hefty fines, but you will also protect yourself from potential accidents and paying for unnecessary damage to your car.

* – Lincolnshire Live

** – Saga

*** – The Guardian

^ – BBC News

May 042017

Warranty Direct is delighted to announce that it will sponsor the Used Car Hero category at the Autocar Awards 2017.

The Autocar Awards are recognised by the car industry and car-buying public as the premier enthusiast awards ceremony, with only the very best cars of the past year and industry personalities winning trophies.

The event will be held in Silverstone’s Wing complex on 23rd May and will begin after the Car Dealer Expo (CDX) – the largest automotive retail conference of its kind in the UK.

Autocar is the world’s oldest car publication and is regarded as one of the most trusted titles for new car advice. It was launched 122 years ago in 1895, and continues to be the pre-eminent source of automotive test verdicts, news, opinion, features, video and photography today.

The Awards are influential not only because they honour the accomplishments of individual manufacturers, but also as they acknowledge the industry’s ability to continuously innovate and create vehicles to suit a wide range of preferences for today’s modern, tech-savvy consumer.

When deciding the annual short list for what makes a great used car, Autocar’s expert judges scrutinise reams of facts, figures and data generated by its road testing team. Vehicles are put through a rigorous series of tests at professional facilities to evaluate various parameters, including affordability, reliability, design, performance and driver satisfaction.

Contenders for the Warranty Direct Sponsored Used Car Hero Award have been chosen by Autocar’s used car expert James Ruppert and its readers, who nominated cars that they felt were worthy of consideration. The shortlist of six will be revealed in an Autocar magazine feature in the May 17 issue.

Other highlights of the evening include the awarding of the Issigonis Trophy, which honours the individual who has contributed the most to the health, excellence and competitiveness of the European motor industry. Previous winners include McLaren’s Ron Dennis, Porsche’s Wolfgang Hatz and PSA Peugeot Citroen’s Carlos Tavares.

The Sturmey Award, named after Autocar’s founder and recognising innovation and achievement across the automotive sector, will also be given. Previous winners include Tesla’s Elon Musk, Citroen’s Mark Lloyd and Ariel’s Simon Saunders.

Warranty Direct’s CEO Simon Ackers said:

“The Autocar Awards are one of the most anticipated events in the motoring calendar. Not only do they celebrate the highest achievers in the industry over the past 12 months, but they provide invaluable insight to consumers on the best vehicles currently on the market. We are proud to be sponsoring an award in partnership with one of Britain’s longest-established and most trusted enthusiast brands.

“Everyone at Warranty Direct HQ is currently on tenterhooks and keen to hear the latest automotive champions announced!”

Readers should continue to visit our blog page and social feeds where we will share news about the Award winners as soon as they’re presented.

With the ceremony mere weeks away, Warranty Direct will ensure its customers are kept up to speed with all the latest from the Autocar Awards ceremony.

May 042017

Motorway driving is often part and parcel of an everyday commute in the UK. However, research has shown the amount of careless, poor or even reckless driving on British motorways is too high, with 66,900 reported accidents* occurring on major roads in the UK from October 2015 to September 2016.

Driving on motorways can be stressful at the best of times, which is why we’ve put together some of our top tips to help our readers feel more confident whilst out on the open road.

Safety, Discipline & Etiquette

You often hear complaints of ‘middle-lane hoggers’, which is typical of people not adhering to Highway Code guidelines. If the road ahead is clear, you should always drive in the left-hand lane and when overtaking you should return back to the left as soon as you’re safely past. Contrary to popular belief, the left-hand lane is not simply for HGVs and coaches – everyone should use it. Make sure to indicate and check your mirrors and blind spots when overtaking.

While a hard shoulder might seem like a suitable place to stop, it shouldn’t be used as a rest spot on your journey. You should not use it unless in an event of a breakdown or directed to do so by police, uniformed officers, or by signs. Using this part of the motorway should be an absolute last resort, for a breakdown or emergency.

Common bad practices such as tailgating, undertaking and cutting up other drivers are ill-advised. Tailgating* has been shown to cause one third of all crashes on the road. Such accidents could be easily prevented if enough room was left between cars. The ideal way to judge this is to allow 10 feet of distance between the car in front for every 10mph you are driving.

Fuel efficiency

Motorway driving is the perfect opportunity to operate a vehicle more economically. Not only does it save you money, but you are also helping the environment by reducing emissions. Aggressive braking, accelerating, and frequent gear shifting are all ways to use up fuel unnecessarily. You should maintain a consistent speed for optimum fuel efficiency. If you have an MPG consumption display, pay close attention to it – target your ideal MPG and adjust your speed accordingly to make long-term fuel savings.

Reducing weight by removing roof racks or unnecessary luggage makes a big difference to the amount of fuel used throughout a journey, as does improving aerodynamics by keeping windows and sunroofs closed. By adopting Eco-driving practices in general, you can help reduce wear and tear on your car.

Know your motorway signs

There are certain signs you may be more likely to see on a motorway and it’s worth making sure you remind yourself of these before a journey. For example: amber flashing lights are a warning for a hazard of some kind on the road. If you’re confronted by amber lights, you need to adjust your speed and look out for the hazard until you pass a signal that gives the ‘all clear’ sign.

A potential hazard could be temporary maximum speed limits, lane closures or the need to exit the motorway at the next exit, when accompanied by an arrow pointing to the left.

When following temporary signage on the motorway, signs which have a yellow background and either a hollow black square or circle, or a solid black triangle or diamond shape are symbols which show emergency diversion routes for motorway and other main road traffic.

Adjusting to conditions

Whilst heavy rain and fog are known to create more difficult conditions on roads, some motorists do not always adapt their driving style accordingly. In heavy rain, you must slow your vehicle down and leave more room between the car in front as your stopping distance can increased your control is reduced. At 70mph in good conditions, a car’s stopping distance is 96 metres, or 24 car lengths. In wet conditions this will be at least double, and in icy conditions the overall stopping distance will be at least ten times this.

When it comes to diminished visibility, your fog lights should only be turned on when visibility is below 100 metres. For the benefit of other drivers, it is better not to use rear fog lights, as they can mask your brake lights and dazzle other drivers.

In case of a breakdown

In the event of a breakdown, it’s important to try and get off the motorway if possible. If you can’t, make sure you stop as far left as you can, with the wheels turned left.

Turn your hazards on immediately and if it’s dark or foggy, keep your side lights on. You and any passengers should leave the vehicle using the doors on the left-hand side and stand behind the barrier. You should keep any animals you have with you in the car – even if you have them on a lead there’s a chance they could run off, which could be disastrous for your pet and other traffic.

Don’t attempt to make a repair yourself, but simply call your breakdown provider and request assistance. BreakdownCare Plus from Warranty Direct will provide you with benefits such as roadside assistance and nationwide recovery in the UK, to legal advice and uninsured loss recovery.

* – Based on statistics available at Gov.uk

** – SeriousAccidents.com

Motorway sign examples taken from Highway Code UK Know Your Road Traffic Signs Guide