How to reduce the cost of car insurance for 17 year olds
If you are a 17-year-old driver who has recently passed your driving test you are probably looking forward to hitting the road without your L plates. But first you have to sort out appropriate car insurance - and that's not necessarily easy because insurers don't like young drivers. In fact, many mainstream insurers will refuse to offer car insurance for 17 year olds, or charge sky-high premiums.
High rate of accidents
It might seem unfair, but the high premiums reflect the high rate of accidents among 17-year-old drivers. The statistics make alarming reading: one in five drivers will have an accident in their first year on the road and 26% of road accidents involve at least one motorist aged between 17 and 24.
Compulsory car insurance
Don't think you can drive without motor insurance because it is illegal. And if you are caught, you could be hit with a heavy penalty. The minimum legal requirement is third party car insurance cover, which pays out if you injure or damage another person or their property. You can also buy third party fire and theft car insurance, which includes loss or damage to your own vehicle if it is stolen or damaged in a fire.
Fully comprehensive car insurance
is the most popular type of policy because it covers the full range of risks and sometimes also includes additional features such as legal expenses insurance in case you are involved in a dispute.
You might be able to save money on car insurance for 17 year olds by choosing third party rather than comprehensive cover. But it is always worth comparing motor insurance premiums because you can sometimes find a comprehensive policy with one insurer that costs little more than a third party policy with another.
You should also only consider third party cover if your car is old and of little value as the insurance does not pay out for any damage to your own vehicle in an accident, or if your car is stolen or damaged by fire.
Enhance your driving skills
Many experts recommend that teenage drivers enhance their road skills with an advanced driving course. It can not only increase road safety but could also lower the cost of car insurance for a 17 year old motorist as many insurers offer discounts to drivers who have completed a recognised driving course.
The Driving Standards Agency's Pass Plus scheme is perhaps the best known of these and is specifically aimed at new drivers. But organisations such as ROPSA, the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the RAC also offer driving training.
You usually have to pay for the course, though you should contact your local councils to see if it will contribute towards the cost of your Pass Plus training. You might also recoup the cost through a lower motor insurance premium.
No claims discount
Safer drivers have fewer accidents than reckless motorists. And fewer accidents mean fewer claims. If you don't claim on your car insurance during the policy year, you can usually earn a discount on your premium, known as a no claims discount, or no claims bonus. The discount adds up with each claim-free year, until you could knock 70% or more off your motor insurance premium if you do not make a claim for five consecutive years.
The value of the no claims discount makes it important to consider whether you should lodge a claim for a minor incident if you could afford to pay for any damage out of your own pocket. You can also pay a little bit extra to protect your no claims bonus. You can then normally make a limited number of claims without losing the discount.
Don't forget that the no claims discount is portable, so you can take it with you from one insurer to another. In other words, there's no excuse to stick with the same firm at renewal if you can find a cheaper policy elsewhere when you are looking for car insurance for 18 year old drivers in one years' time.
Mum and dad can help
Many teenage drivers cannot afford their own car, so they drive their parent's car and piggyback on their car insurance. But if you are lucky enough to have your own wheels, it might be a good idea to add your mum or dad to your policy as an additional named driver. Insurers are reassured by the presence on the policy of an older, more experienced motorist and it will probably result in cheaper car insurance for a 17 year old driver.
Of course, you should always be honest with your insurer. Don't put your mum or dad down as the main driver if they only get behind the wheel occasionally. The practice is known as fronting and is illegal.
Black box insurance
Technology can come to the rescue of 17 year old drivers in the form of black box insurance. With this kind of policy, a tracking device is fitted to your car and records when, where and how you drive - and it can have a big impact on the cost of car insurance for 17 year olds. If, for example, you are prepared to drive only during daylight hours and avoid motorways, you could pay a lot less for your insurance than someone who travels at all times on all roads. A number of insurers now offer so called telematics policies and it is a good idea to compare prices.
Spread the cost of cover
If you cannot afford to pay your insurance premium in one lump sum, most insurers will let you spread the payment over monthly instalments.
However, you usually have to put down a deposit and there might be an admin charge for the convenience. You might also want to consider short term or temporary car insurance for 17 year olds. But beware continuous insurance enforcement, which basically means that you must insure your car even if it is off the road, unless you have a statutory off road notice from the DVLA.
Money saving tips
One of the easiest ways to get cheap car insurance for a 17 year old driver is to compare prices through MoneySupermarket. Our online service is free, independent and compares car insurance quotes available through the country's leading insurers in a matter of seconds.
You should also choose your car with care. Insurers rate each make and model into one of 50 car insurance groups - and the cars in group 1 are cheaper to insure than the cars in group 50. To find out more, visit the website www.thatcham.org.
Fit your car with an approved security device, such as an alarm or an immobiliser, and try to keep the vehicle in a locked garage overnight. If your car is secure, it is less likely to be stolen so your insurer should charge less for cover.
All car insurance policies come with a compulsory excess. The excess is the amount you have to pay towards each claim, and could be about £200. So, if you put in a claim for £500, the insurer would pay only £300. If you agree to a higher voluntary excess, the insurer will usually lower the premium. But make sure the figure is affordable otherwise you could end up in financial difficulty.
For more ideas on how you could lower the cost of car insurance for 17 year olds, visit our money saving tips page.
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