Car insurance is not cheap: the average premium is now about £480. So it makes sound financial sense to try to bring down the cost of cover.
The easiest way to save money on car insurance is to compare quotes using a free comparison site such as MoneySupermarket. But you should also consider your car’s insurance group.
50 car insurance groups
Insurers take into account a number of factors when they set premiums for car insurance, but your car’s insurance group is one of the most important. All cars that are manufactured to UK specifications are allocated one of 50 insurance groups. And the cars in group 50 attract higher premiums than the cars in group one.
Cars are classified into groups by the Group Rating Panel, which includes members of the Association of British Insurers. The panel meets once a month and relies primarily on information collated by Thatcham, the research organisation, to decide a car’s rating.
The panel only recommends a particular group – the decision is not binding. But most firms are happy to go along with the panel’s rating suggestions, so there isn’t much variation between insurers.
Cost of repairs
The panel decides a car’s rating by looking at a number of factors that are likely to affect the cost of a claim. The value of the vehicle when new has a bearing on the price of any potential claim for theft or damage, as does the cost of replacement parts if the car is involved in an accident.
The panel will also take into account the time it is likely to take to repair the vehicle, as the longer it takes, the more it will cost in labour.
High performance cars
A high performance car that can accelerate quickly to high speeds is more of a risk to an insurer than a modest runabout, so don’t be surprised if a Porsche is in a higher group than a Fiat Panda.
Risk of theft
Theft of a car could trigger a claim, so the panel also assess a vehicle’s standard security features, such as alarms, immobilisers and Vehicle Identification Numbers. If the car comes with a number of different security devices, it will probably be allocated a lower insurance group. Watch out, too, for any features on the car that might make it more attractive to thieves, such as alloy wheels. They could push it further up the ratings.
Find out your car’s insurance group
You can estimate your car’s position in the insurance ratings by looking at its value when new; the time it takes to travel from 0mph to 60mph and its security features. The Thatcham website also contains information on car insurance groups (www.thatcham.org).
In addition, MoneySupemarket’s handy new widget can help you to determine a car’s insurance group, along with the average car insurance premium. It’s a quick and easy way to compare different makes and models so that you can choose a new car that best suits your budget.