Like death and taxes, paying for car insurance is unavoidable for most drivers. But you can easily cut your bill if you know what to do, how to do it and when. Interested? Here’s 10 money saving tips to cut your insurance costs – and keep them down.
There’s plenty of strong opinions on the best time to re-new your policy, ranging from the week before to a full month. In truth, there’s no one cast iron answer.
The point is to get a new quote in good time. The most expensive quotes are always those left to the last minute. Forward plan. And always shop around.
Extra tip: Get two quotes, one three or so weeks before your policy ends. Get the second quote 10 days before. Many quotes are valid for a full 30 days (though not all – so double-check). This way you ‘play’ the market rather than the market ‘playing’ you.
When money’s tight it’s tempting to spread the load. But it’s always more expensive, unless your insurer’s a one-off.
If you can, take the up-front hit. There could be a meal out for two in the difference saved. Or in some cases several meals – some insurers add 25-30% to your policy by taking a monthly premium.
Do you need an extra loan – which is what monthly instalments are – really?
Extra tip: Insurance companies know that younger and older people are more vulnerable to paying monthly. If this is you expect to be targeted. Oh, and pay on your credit card so you get cashback credits.
Why only part-cover yourself? It makes no sense. Fully comprehensive insurance cover is often cheaper than third party, fire and theft (TPF&T). That’s go for TPF&T. So they charge more.
Extra tip: Insurers are stats geeks. The cost-per-accident is often higher in TPF&T incidents overall. So there’s reason behind an insurer’s decision-making, even if it’s counterintuitive.
A big car with a big engine is more expensive to insure. A small car with a small engine is cheaper. So far, so rational. However, there’s been a trend to engine ‘downsizing’ over the years from EU pressure to get emissions down.
That means some big cars are pulled (or pushed, if they’re rear-wheel drive) by highly-efficient-but-diminutive engines.
So don’t cram yourself or your family into a car that’s too small. Engine size isn’t so critical. It’s what you do with it that counts – and car makers have got smarter with less.
Extra tip: Don’t ignore automatics and electric vehicles. Modern automatics can be more fuel efficient in certain conditions. And electric vehicle range has vastly improved.
A black box insurance policy means a telematics box – about the size of your smartphone – drops into your engine bay to track your driving. If you drive safely within the rules of the policy then you pay less.
That’s good news for new or young drivers because what you pay is based on how responsible you are behind the wheel, not on how an insurer reckons you will drive.
For more info on black box policies, including how they work and how much you could save, read this guide.
Extra tip: If you do a lot of motorway miles, check the small print. There are mileage limits on a ‘black box’ policy. Even curfews on some. Also, you may be charged for switching the black box across if you change cars often. Black box policies won’t suit all.
New drivers can improve their skills by taking the Government’s Pass Plus driving course – an extra six hours of driving tutoring. Some insurance companies will offer you a discount if you take this course.
Their reasoning is simple: too many road accidents happen in the first 12 months of getting a driving licence, costing them money.
Check that a discount is offered before you get a quote as not all insurers offer it. Cost? Between £150-£200 or roughly £30-£35 an hour.
Extra tip: Some councils discount this price so check with yours. You must live in the council’s area to qualify. You must take this course within 12 months of passing your test.
Insurers like good car security as it saves them money. Car owners like good security because there’s less chance of their car rudely disappearing and hitting their no claims bonus.
Either way, the more secure your vehicle is, the lower risk an insurer will rate it. So if your car is a bit older and less secure, fit a Thatcham-approved alarm, tracker or immobiliser.
If you have a modern car with keyless entry be careful of ‘relay attacks’. This is where two criminals, working together, hack your car’s electronic defences
One ‘crim’ stands near the vehicle while the other approaches your property with a device which picks up your key fob signal. It relays the key fob’s signal back to the car, allowing both to drive away
But for not much more than a fiver a simple Faraday-style wallet can block these electronic signals
Extra tip: Fit a dashcam and tell your insurer. Some may offer you a discount.
If you add an extra driver an insurance company sees more risk is shared. It’s not automatic but it could make your premium cheaper.
For example, if you’re a younger driver, adding your Mum or Dad might improve your risk profile and lower your premium.
But there’s the converse too: if you’re a much older driver and you add a son or daughter to the policy, your insurer may feel the risk profile rises.
Extra tip: Look at temporary insurance instead if adding an extra driver is too pricey.
If you reckon your annual mileage will be 3,000 miles or less your insurer may wonder how much driving experience you’re actually getting.
Even if you’re competent behind the wheel, risk management – what the insurance industry is basically about – is also about perception. So don’t push down your estimated annual mileage too much.
Extra tip: Don’t think a low mileage car privately garaged will mean a lower insurance premium. Plenty of people have a talent for garage accidents. It’s all in the stats and where you live too.
If you drink and drive and are over the limit your insurer may very reasonably decline an accident claim.
A conviction will have a huge impact on your ability to get cover, as well as increasing its cost. You must also report any convictions for the next five years.
Extra tip: keep to the sparkling water and steer clear of trouble.
Don’t modify your car – it will push your premium up
Up your voluntary excess if you can. If you choose to pay more your premium will drop
Keep your policy free of ‘extras’ – more means more expense
Whatever car you drive, make sure you find insurance that covers everything you need as cheaply as possible by comparing policies.