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*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, www.consumerintelligence.com (January 2024). 51% of car insurance customers could save £524

Fact checker
Last updated
December 20th, 2023

Do I need car insurance?

You must have motor insurance to drive legally in the UK. No ifs, no buts. Automated cameras on police cars check number plates against a national database and issue fines to anyone caught without the right cover in place. Third-party cover is the minimum legal insurance requirement for all drivers in the UK.

Going beyond third-party cover is a personal choice rather than a legal requirement. But more comprehensive policies can give greater protection, including from theft, fire, damage and breakdowns.

If you’re not driving your car, you can avoid insuring it and paying tax by parking it in a garage, driveway or on private property. But you must inform the authorities using a free statutory off road notice (SORN). If you don’t do this, you could be fined £80, plus face an additional penalty for having an uninsured vehicle.

You must have car insurance to drive legally in the UK.”

What types of car insurance are there?

There are three categories of car insurance, each vary in price and what they offer drivers:

Third-party only car insurance

This is the most basic level of car insurance. It only covers you for any compensation you might have to pay if you injure someone or damage their property in an accident. Any damage to your car, or injuries you sustain, as well as theft of your car or breakdowns isn’t covered by third-party insurance.

Third-party, fire and theft car insurance

In addition to providing third-party insurance, this type also covers you if your vehicle is stolen or damaged by fire. It doesn’t pay out for any damage to your own vehicle if you’re involved in an accident that you cause. If another driver causes the accident, their insurance would pay up. If not, or the other motorist is unknown or uninsured, you’d have to cover those repair costs yourself.

Fully comprehensive car insurance

This covers you, your car, passengers and property as well as damage to third parties. It also protects your car against vandalism and theft. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s frequently the cheapest option. Insurers view people willing to fully protect their car as less risky than anyone taking out a lesser form of cover.

Are the more specialist types of car insurance too?

Multi-car insurance

A policy that covers two or more cars in your household.

Black box car insurance

This monitors your driving using a telematics box fitted to your car. The data is sent back to your insurer, so the better you drive, the less you pay.

Learner car insurance

requirement for provisional licence holders  practicing driving in any car other than a registered instructor’s vehicle or one you’re down as a named learner driver.

Taxi insurance

A motor insurance policy designed to cover cars used for commercial hire.

Temporary car insurance

Short-term car insurance covers you for short periods of time, typically a few days or weeks, when driving a borrowed vehicle.

European car insurance

This covers you when driving in certain countries. Check your existing UK car insurance first, as European cover typically comes as standard for EU countries in particular.

Business car insurance

This is designed for people who use their car for business purposes such as driving to meetings on behalf of their employer.

Classic car insurance

Specialist cover for classic car owners. Classic cars are usually worth more (and cost more to repair) than modern cars, so sometimes require a special classic car insurance policy.

Are the more specialist types of car insurance too?

Multi-car insurance

A policy that covers two or more cars in your household.

Black box car insurance

This monitors your driving using a telematics box fitted to your car. The data is sent back to your insurer, so the better you drive, the less you pay.

Learner car insurance

requirement for provisional licence holders  practicing driving in any car other than a registered instructor’s vehicle or one you’re down as a named learner driver.

Taxi insurance

A motor insurance policy designed to cover cars used for commercial hire.

Temporary car insurance

Short-term car insurance covers you for short periods of time, typically a few days or weeks, when driving a borrowed vehicle.

European car insurance

This covers you when driving in certain countries. Check your existing UK car insurance first, as European cover typically comes as standard for EU countries in particular.

Business car insurance

This is designed for people who use their car for business purposes such as driving to meetings on behalf of their employer.

Classic car insurance

Specialist cover for classic car owners. Classic cars are usually worth more (and cost more to repair) than modern cars, so sometimes require a special classic car insurance policy.

What does car insurance cost?

According to Confused.com’s car insurance price index, the cost of car insurance has reached its highest on record. UK drivers are now paying £924 on average, which is a 58% increase in just 12 months. The index also highlights 18-year-olds are paying £2,995 on average for their car insurance.

Insurers use different models to attempt to calculate how risky you are to cover, but they often use the same factors in their calculations

One factor that will affect your premiums is when you come to add another driver to your policy – your newly qualified teenager will bump up your premium but adding an experienced driver with their own no-claims history can reduce the cost.

Note: your name, gender and religion are never included in this assessment.

Average cost of car insurance[1]
£924a year

Factors that can impact car insurance costs

  • Annual mileage – the higher this is, the statistically more likely you are to have an accident

  • Occupation – some jobs are seen as riskier than others, including Premier League footballers, lawyers and chefs

  • Car – its risk factors are based on its worth and insurance group. The insurance group rates cars on performance, how easy and expensive they are to repair or replace

  • Address – your car spends a lot of time parked at home, meaning you’ll probably pay more if you live in a high crime or flood risk area

  • Age – young and inexperienced drivers pay more than older, more experienced motorists

  • Claims history – this affects your no-claims discount and premium at renewal

  • Driving history – previous driving convictions, endorsements or points on your driving licence may result in higher premiums

  • Criminal history – non-driving related convictions also indicate higher risk

  • Car usage – do you drive for more than just social, domestic and pleasure (SDP)? Commuting to work or business use bump up the costs

  • Parking spot – cars left on the street are more likely to be hit by other drivers while parked. But, as quite a few claims result in scrapping cars driving in and out of garages, check which option is cheapest when you apply for insurance

How to get a cheap car insurance quote

When comparing car insurance quotes to find the best cover for your needs, there three basic ways to get a cheaper quote:

Lower your risk

The price of your car insurance is based on how much of a risk you pose to claiming on your policy. You can reduce this risk in a number of ways, including: fitting an approved alarm or parking your vehicle off-street, changing what you use the car for or driving fewer miles and taking an advanced driving course. Adding a more experienced motorist as a named driver can lower the price too, as insurers assume they will spend some time behind the wheel.

Lower the price

Car insurers usually give you a better deal if you pay your insurance annually, rather than in monthly instalments. Increasing your excess so you pay more of any claim yourself can also cut the cost of your premiums. Take a look at what's included in your cover. Not selecting optional extras you can live without, or if your car isn't worth much, could also save you money.

Compare policies

You’ll be able to find the best deal possible if you compare car insurance quotes. But don’t cut corners to get cheap insurance. You can also ask for a discount from your current provider. If you find a quote with a different insurer, ask your current provider to beat or match the offer. It’s important to give accurate information to your insurer. It could be tempting to say someone else is the main driver or lie about your driving history to reduce the price. But it’s never a good idea. Lying could invalidate your insurance and your claim could be rejected.

Should I add extras to my car insurance policy?

Your car insurance policy can be tailored to suit you and by paying an additional fee you can add extra benefits. These extras might include:

  • Legal cover – here’s how to work out if you need it

  • Breakdown cover

  • Cover for lost or stolen keys

  • No-claims protection

  • Cover for driving abroad

  • Windscreen repair and replacement

  • Courtesy car

  • Personal injury

It’s worth considering all the main car insurance extras that could be worth adding to your policy. It's also a good idea to check your car insurance quote in detail as some of the above might be included as standard.

How to get car insurance quotes

To get car insurance quotes, you'll need to provide answers to a range of questions. This can be done by filling out an online form, speaking to someone over the phone and in person.

If you plan to get car insurance quotes from a few providers it makes sense to use a comparison service to save time, although not every insurer will be included

As different providers use different risk models to work out prices, casting your net as wide as possible to find the best cover makes sense.

You’ll need to provide the following information when comparing car insurance quotes:

  • Claims history - required to confirm how many years’ worth of no-claims bonus you’ve got and details about any accidents you’ve had or claims you’ve made in the past five years

  • Your licence details - the kind of licence you have can affect your insurance. Also include any other driving qualifications you may have

  • Personal information - your name, age, address and employment details are all used to work out how likely you are to make a claim. Be as accurate as possible with your job description as it could save you money

  • Usage and mileage - this is about what you use your car for: personal use, commuting and/or business. You’ll also need to provide your annual mileage

  • Car model and make - if you know your car’s registration number, comparison websites will find the details from the registrations database. If you don’t, giving your car’s make, model and age is usually enough

No matter how expensive your quote is, don't try to get a cheaper car insurance policy by stretching the truth about what you do for work or who the main driver is.”

FAQs

Can I drive a car without insurance?

No, it is a legal requirement to have at least third-party car insurance cover to drive in the UK. There is a minimum fine of £300 and six penalty points on your licence. Your car may be seized and scrapped and you may be prosecuted and fined further. You will then find it harder to and more expensive to get car insurance in the future.

How can I get cheaper car insurance?

There are several things you can do to get cheaper cover. Try these 10 easy ways to cut your car insurance costs.

Is it cheaper to pay annually or monthly?

Paying annually in one go will usually work out cheaper because you will be charged high rates of interest, in some cases approaching 40% when you pay monthly.

Should I let my policy automatically renew?

No, your current provider will not usually offer the cheapest deal so shop around and find a cheaper quote. You can then call your current provider and ask them to match or better this offer. If they can’t, go with the new quote.

Can I get insurance for an imported car?

Yes, you can use our quote service to find cheap cover for your imported car. You can select whether your car is a grey or parallel import. Grey imports are those that don’t have a UK equivalent, parallels do.

Can I check if a car is already insured?

Yes, you can check if a car has a valid insurance policy in place through the Motor Insurance Database (MID).

How long does car insurance last?

Most car insurance policies last one year, but you can cancel your cover for a fee. You can get short term cover for between one day and three months.

Can I drive other cars?

If you have a fully comprehensive policy you might be covered to drive other people's cars, but some policies do not allow this. You will need to check the T&Cs.

Can I switch my policy to another car?

Yes, if you buy a new car you will need to tell your insurer so they can update your policy. The cost of your cover will probably change.

What is the difference between comprehensive and third party insurance?

The difference between comprehensive and third party insurance is that the latter will compensate passengers that suffer injuries while travelling in your car, but it will never pay for damage to your car.

Whereas fully comprehensive cover will pay for damage to your car and covers you for a lot more. Find out more by reading our car insurance guide.

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About the author

James Andrews
James has spent the past 15 years writing and editing personal finance news, specialising in consumer rights, pensions, insurance, property and investments

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References

1. Confused.com - UK car insurance price index