If you drive in the UK you need to be covered by some form of car insurance. Unfortunately there's no way of getting around this as driving without insurance amounts to a criminal offence. But that doesn't mean that you should have to pay an arm and a leg to ensure you're driving within the law.

The cost of car insurance can seem OTT but there are a few quick and easy things you can do to start seeing reduced premiums almost immediately. Read on for our top 9 cost-cutters.

1. Shop around

With car insurance prices going up all the time, just accepting your current insurer's renewal quote is unlikely to be your most economical option. Instead, shopping around for a policy that gives you the cover you need for less is something you should be doing every time you're in the market for car insurance.

By gathering several quotes and comparing the benefits, features and cost of different insurance policies, you'll not only ensure you're getting the best price for your cover, but also that you're getting the cover that suits the way you drive.

So next time you're looking for car insurance, be sure to shop around before you make the decision to buy.

2. Choose a low band drive

Cutting the cost of your car insurance starts with the kind of car you choose to buy. If you're savvy and do your research before you scout out your new set of wheels, you can save significantly by looking at the different insurance bands cars fall into.

Insurance bands from 1 to 20 determine which level of insurance a car will need; the lower the band, the lower your premiums are likely to be. As such, before you hit the car dealerships it's a good idea to investigate which cars fall into which insurance bands. Your local car merchant should also have a good idea of which band different cars are in.

3. Get secure

When you've got your new car, you can begin to reduce what you'll pay in premiums right away by making your car as secure as possible. The more secure your car is, the less likely it is to be broken into, therefore your insurer is less likely to have to pay out for a claim making for cheaper premiums.

Simple things like fitting an immobiliser, alarm system, and other security devices to your car will significantly reduce premiums as your car will instantly be less at risk of theft. Remember however to check with your insurer before you buy security devices to confirm which are approved by them (generally these will be Thatcham-approved devices).

What's more, you can increase the security of your car by parking it in a safe place - particularly when you are leaving it overnight. If you have a garage, or off-road parking, use it - your car is less likely to suffer vandalism and theft if it is parked out of the way and your premiums will shrink accordingly.

4. Don't modify

When you get a new car it can be tempting to personalise it by adding some of your own personal flair - whether that's in the form of spoilers, fins, or other bodywork. However, doing so will instantly increase the cost of insurance premiums because your car will be more attractive to thieves, making you more likely to have to make a claim.

Anything that makes your car an easy target for thieves or vandals that you could avoid will make your car insurance more expensive, whether that's modifying your car or leaving it on the side of the road when you could park it in a garage.

5. Drive safely

Taking action to make your car less liable to things that could lead to claim will lead to lower premiums. So, if your car is less likely to break down or be involved in an accident your policy will cost less.

You can lower the chances of your car breaking down or being involved in an accident by driving safely on the roads, limiting how far you drive your car, and limiting how often you use your car. For example, if you only used your car on the weekends and didn't use it for commuting each weekday, your premiums would cost less.

One of the most effective ways to drive down your premiums is to build up your no claims discount. This means, as much as it is in your power, driving safely and carefully and not having to make a claim on your policy. The longer you go without making a claim, the more significant your no claims discount will become.

6. Buy online (and upfront!)

Even something as simple as buying your policy online can result in a discount nowadays, as it means less hassle all round for you and the insurer. Many insurers now offer an online discount of as much as 20% so this is certainly something worth taking advantage of if you can.

Remember however not to base your policy decision on price alone - only go for the online discount if everything else that the policy entails matches up to your needs and your wallet too.

It's also worth paying upfront as If you pay by Direct Debit, monthly premiums could cost you 20% extra, or more! Consider a 0% purchase credit card if you want to spread the cost, or a cashback credit card if you can pay in full.

7. Up your excess

Every car insurance policy includes a compulsory excess, which is an amount that you must pay towards any claim you make. However there is also often a voluntary excess which means that if you want to, you can increase the amount you are willing to pay towards the cost of a claim.

Although this might seem counter-productive, increasing your voluntary excess can significantly under-cut the cost of your ongoing premiums and so it is something worth considering. Just make sure that you would be able to afford the cost of the excess if you were to make a claim.

8. Spread your risk

The pressure exerted on a stiletto heel is higher than that exerted on a flat shoe, because the amount of pressure is spread out over a larger area. Likewise, the risk that you'll be involved in circumstances that mean you have to make a claim are higher if you are the only person named on a policy, but this risk is spread out when you name another driver on your policy.

By spreading the risk you are less likely to make a claim and so your premiums will be lower. Naming a second driver is particularly important if you are a younger driver as your inexperience is likely to mean higher premiums, but spreading that risk to a parent who also drives the car and who is more experienced will mean you won't have to pay as much in premiums.

You can also spread your risk by declaring a second car on your policy, if you have one. The chances of you being in an accident or breaking down are spread across the two cars and so your premiums will be cheaper.

9. Get extra-qualified

Finally, if you're really serious about reducing your premiums and you've gone through the steps above, another way to significantly cut your car insurance even further is to gain an extra driving qualification.

An advanced driving test such as the Pass Plus course builds on your existing experience and makes you a safer, more capable driver - and once you have this qualification under your belt, your car insurance will cost you much less because you'll be less of a hazard on the road and less likely to need to make a claim.