Buying your first car insurance policy
If you've just passed your test you'll probably be itching to get behind the wheel and hit the open road, but you'll find that first time car insurance can be incredibly expensive.
As a new driver you're among the least experienced drivers on the road. Insurance providers therefore believe you're the most likely to be involved in an accident, and charge you accordingly.
From your choice of car to the type of insurance you buy, there are some steps you can take to make that first car insurance policy more affordable.
Choosing a car
Many of us look back fondly on our first cars, even if they were old bangers. If you're lucky enough to be able to afford your ideal motor, your first car insurance policy might not be the top of your list of priorities - but it's certainly something to consider.
When a car insurance provider calculates how much to charge you for cover, they estimate how much of a risk you pose as a driver and therefore the probability they'll have to pay out for a claim.
One of the obvious things which affects your level of risk is the car you drive, its performance, security and statistical probability of being involved in an accident.
Each car model is graded and placed into a car insurance group, numbered from one to 50. The lower end of the scale tends to define cars which are cheaper, have smaller engines and lower specifications.
For example a Citroen C1 1.0i is in car insurance group 1, with its 998cc engine, whereas a Land Rover Range Rover 4.4 TDV8 with its 4367cc engine is in the highest group, 50.
The more power a vehicle has, the more risk it poses for the insurer. The more expensive a vehicle is, the more it will cost the insurer if they have to pay out if you make a claim. It therefore makes sense that the most powerful and expensive cars are in the highest car insurance groups.
When you're choosing your first car, it is important to bear this in mind because it will have a direct effect on your premium. If you're unsure which group the car you have your eye on belongs to, ask the dealer or check online.
Avoid after-market modifications like body-kits, alloy wheels or anything which affects the performance or value of the vehicle, as they will increase your premiums.
Choosing your first car insurance policy
As this is your first foray into the world of car insurance, the options available to you can be confusing. The main options on offer are third party cover, third party, fire and theft cover and fully-comprehensive cover.
Third party cover only insures you against damage to third parties and their property. Third party, fire and theft offers the same cover but also protects you against your vehicle being lost to fire or theft. Fully comprehensive cover protects you against everything detailed previously as well as damage to your own vehicle.
Fully comprehensive insurance is more expensive than third party insurance, but remember: if you were involved in an accident and only had third party cover, you'd have to pay for the repairs to your own vehicle out of your own pocket.
We take a more detailed look at these options on our car insurance policy types page.
Just because you've passed your driving test, it doesn't mean the learning has to stop there. Pass Plus is an advanced driving course for newly-qualified drivers and can help to lower your first car insurance premiums.
The six-module course covers things you won't have learned in your standard lessons like night-time driving and motorway driving. The extra experience can earn you a discount with the majority of insurers.
Discover the potential impact this qualification can have by taking advantage of our pass plus car insurance guide.
Pay as you go insurance
Pay as you go car insurance is the fourth option, and can make insurance cheaper for some drivers; specifically first time car insurance buyers with very little experience. This type of cover sees drivers charged for the miles they actually travel, rather than using an estimate.
Your car is fitted with a black box which tracks your mileage, on which you are charged. There is sometimes an initial deposit for the box and installation, but from there on in you only pay according to how much you use the car.
Each insurer offering pay as you go insurance will charge a different amount per mile and may offer cheaper rates during off-peak driving times. If your annual mileage is actually quite high, you may find it more cost-effective to buy a traditional car insurance policy.
It's important to shop around and compare quotes to make sure you're getting the best deal on your first car insurance policy, but remember that getting the appropriate level of cover for you is just as important as getting a cheap policy.
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†82% of shoppers obtained a quote in 5 minutes or less. Source eDigitalResearch December 2012.