Motorists have collectively saved £25.6billion on vehicle expenses since the start of lockdown in March 2020, according to a new report.
With the public told for much of the previous 12 months to stay home to stay safe, car usage has plummeted over the course of the year.
The average owner has spent £670 less annually than they would normally, or £56 a month, says Direct Line.
Covid-19 car savings: Motorists have saved an average of £670 on vehicle-related bills such as fuel, servicing and maintenance, according to a new study by Direct Line
The motor insurer is one of many to offer to pay drivers back who have driven less than expected due to the pandemic.
Direct Line’s Mileage MoneyBack initiative has provided both new and existing customers with a refund on the miles not driven, with customers able to pocket two per cent of their total annual premium for every 1,000 miles they don’t drive, up to a maximum of 20 per cent of their premium returned.
But 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, the insurer says.
Even with more people owning cars, the number of miles driven has reduced substantially.
A survey of 2,000 motorists led the insurer to estimate that some 13.9 million licence holders have driven fewer miles over the year than the figure cited on their insurance policy.
'Individually drivers are making 2.3 fewer journeys each week, equating to 88 million jointly,' it claims.
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 petrol or diesel, amounting to a staggering £780.6 million collectively across the country.
A poll of 2,000 drivers found that the equivalent of 13.9 million licence holders have driven fewer miles over the year than the figure cited on their insurance policy
|North West||£91.80||£48.80||£43.00 (47%)|
|East of England||£73.50||£45.00||£28.50 (39%)|
|West Midlands||£77.90||£56.70||£21.20 (27%)|
|Yorkshire and Humberside||£69.10||£49.80||£19.30 (28%)|
|South West||£66.10||£47.40||£18.70 (28%)|
|East Midlands||£79.00||£63.00||£16.00 (20%)|
|North East||£84.90||£70.20||£14.70 (17%)|
|South East||£80.10||£65.50||£14.60 (18%)|
|Great Britain total||£77.60||£57.20||£20.40 (26%)|
|Source: Direct Line|
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).
Owners are also spending less on their vehicle's maintenance, which could cause headaches when they start to become more reliant on them when lockdown measures are eased over the next two months.
Expenditure on MOTs and servicing is now £13.70 lower a month than before March 2020, and repairs are £9.90 lower than before due to less usage.
Interestingly, despite fewer people traveling into towns and city centres for work or pleasure, the cost of parking has increased by an average of 50p, the report claims.
|Maintenance (e.g., MOT, serving, car washing)||£74.70||£61.00||£13.70|
Direct Line is among one of the insurers that has offered to refund drivers if they have driven significantly fewer miles than they had estimated on their insurance policy due to the impact of the pandemic
Direct Line said motorists need to start becoming more vigilant of the condition of their cars, 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.
Lorraine Price, head of motor insurance at the provider, said: 'Lockdown has undoubtedly changed the relationship many of us have with our cars. With more people working from home and not being able to leave the house unless for an essential journey, vehicles aren’t moving as much as they used to.
'While it’s great to see many being able to save some money during these difficult times, it is important to remember to carry out simple checks to ensure cars operate safely when you do need them.
'Life changes were made so abruptly last year that people weren’t able to factor reduction in mileage into policies early on in the year. We want to support our customers in any way we can, that’s why we want to make sure that if customers drive less, they also pay a little less.'