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Why an Englishman’s garage is no longer his castle

Nearly half of garages are not used to park cars in any more, which, as we find out, can have some unexpected effects on the price you pay for car insurance.

Garage overloaded with junk

Nearly half of Britain’s 10.6 million garages are no longer being used for what they were intended – parking the family motor, according to a study by the RAC.

Instead, our garages are capturing the overspill from homes which can’t accommodate all of our junk.

Of those that don’t use their garage to store their car, 77% use it to dump belongings in that won’t fit in the house, the research shows.

House design blamed for death of the garage

Items such as DIY tools – kept by 76% of people – decorating kit (67%) and gardening equipment (64%) are the things most commonly found cluttering up the nation’s garages.

Meanwhile, 9% of those who don’t keep their car in the garage said it had been converted into extra living accommodation, which the RAC estimates equates to approximately 678,000 garages nationwide.

RAC Home Insurance spokesman Simon Williams says the findings appear to indicate an issue with the design of modern houses.

"People do not have enough space to keep all their possessions," he says, "and many garages are so small that anyone in the car has to perform a contortionist act to get out."

Garages can increase your car insurance cost

So, it seems, many of our cars no longer inhabit a cosy garage where Brits can tinker with their motors to their hearts’ content.

But this might not be a bad thing when it comes to the price you pay for your car insurance.

We ran a test quote for a 25-year-old man living in Cardiff, who has been driving for seven years with no motoring convictions, and owns of a 2010 Renault Clio.

We found that on average he would pay £608.90 a year for cover if he kept his car on the road outside his home.

However, we then changed the location he kept his car overnight - a common piece of information that insurers ask for - to see whether this had an impact on his annual car insurance cost.

Based on the average price returned from 10 insurers on our site, we found keeping a car in a garage overnight (compared to keeping it on the road) could raise his annual premium to £637.77 – an increase of £28.87.

Overnight location

Average car insurance premium

Road (at home)


Residential parking (such as secure parking at a block of flats)




Car park




Garages considered a higher risk

Gemma Stanbury, head of car insurance at, says: "Many people may think that keeping your car in a garage overnight would be a more secure option than the road, so it might come as a surprise that in some instances this can actually increase your car insurance cost.

"But garages are often considered a higher risk for a number of reasons," she explains.

"There’s the potential for items in a garage can fall on to a vehicle and there are also more items to avoid when driving in and out of garages, increasing your chances of a scrape.

"Meanwhile, garages are often connected to the owner’s house, so in the highly unfortunate event of a fire or flood, your car could also be damaged."

A shame the garage has gone out of fashion?

Stanbury says parking your vehicle on the road is the best - and cheapest - risk for insurers.

"Although there is the risk of getting hit by a passing vehicle," she says, "insurers view cars as being less likely to be stolen or vandalised due to them being more easily visible.

"And if your vehicle is parked in a garage, it may be because the vehicle is more valuable and thus more attractive to thieves.

"Although," Stanbury adds, "it’s perhaps still a shame that the humble garage has gone out of fashion."

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Adam Jolley

Adam Jolley

Adam Jolley is a content producer at He joined us in May 2012 from the world of financial services PR. Read more from Adam