The SF class determines how high the premium for car insurance will be. Downgrading after an accident is expensive, but it can be avoided.

If you haven’t had an accident for a long time, you have to pay less insurance premiums. The exact amount determines the so-called no-claims classes. The no-claims classes are set by law. Basically, the number of the class indicates how long a driver has not caused an accident. SF 10 means that the owner has not reported any damage to the insurance company for ten years.

The no-claims classes play an important role in the calculation of premiums in motor vehicle liability insurance and fully comprehensive insurance. In the case of partially comprehensive insurance, on the other hand, they do not come into play. The insurance industry association GDV explains the reason: “Partially comprehensive insurance includes risks that the policyholder cannot influence directly. Why should you be punished for a fire, glass breakage or theft with a bad no-claims discount if you are not responsible for it?” With fully comprehensive insurance or motor vehicle liability insurance, it is up to the insurer to decide whether he or she suffered damage caused to other road users.

Those who do not report accidents are rewarded with lower premiums. A percentage value is assigned to each no-claims category, which the insurer can determine at will. They are also allowed to determine how far a policyholder is downgraded in the SF classes when reporting a claim.

This is where the difference between cheap and expensive insurance becomes apparent: Cheap providers often downgrade faster. The reclassification always takes effect when the first contribution is due in the new calendar year. Since the premiums increase with the downgrade, it can be worth taking on the damage yourself instead of reporting it to the insurance company. According to calculations by the “Finanztip” portal, it is worth paying for liability claims up to around 1500 euros and fully comprehensive claims up to 1300 euros yourself.

Important: It is not the cost of the accident that is decisive for downgrading, but the number of accidents. “Several small accidents can lead to a higher discount loss than a large damage,” says the insurance industry association GDV.

Each insurer sets its own no-claims discount and downgrade. Here is an example from the contract terms of a large insurer:

You can usually prevent a downgrade if you have agreed discount protection with your car insurance company. You have to pay a small surcharge for this, but you usually have one claim per year “free”. That means: If you report the damage to your insurance company, they will not downgrade you and you keep your no-claims class.

However, the experts from “Finanztip” point out that you cannot take your discount protection with you when you change insurance. That means you start with the new insurance in the SF class, which you would have gotten without discount protection.

Incidentally, you keep the no-claims class if you change car insurance. You can take them with you to the new insurer. You don’t have to do anything for this. The new motor vehicle insurance electronically requests your no-claims bonus from the previous insurer. However, the amount of the no-claims bonus can change, because each insurance company determines the discount itself.

There is a special class for novice drivers that is also particularly expensive: no-claims class 0. Here you pay up to 260 percent of the basic premium. This is because novice drivers are considered to be particularly vulnerable to accidents and damage. However, this does not apply if you have had your driver’s license for a number of years and are only registering a car for the first time. Then you usually get a low no-claims class, around 1 or 2.

On the other hand, you can usually get away cheaply with a second car. If your first car is already classified in a cheap SF class, you can have your second car classified in the same class with some insurance companies. This is particularly useful if you want to insure a car for your child, for example.

There are also cheaper rates for partners with many insurance companies. To do this, you must either be married or prove that you share a household. Then the partner’s car can possibly be classified in a favorable no-claims class. Most car insurance companies require that the partner has held his driver’s license for a certain period of time.

Incidentally, the most expensive no-claims classes are S and M. Here you are classified according to several claims that have an effect on downgrading. The premiums are then up to 280 percent of the basic premium.

You should note that a longer interruption of your insurance cover will have a negative effect on your no-claims class. If you have not been insured for more than seven years, your no-claims bonus lapses completely.