With daily car journeys a necessity for many families, it’s likely there are few of us who could seriously consider life without our own motor. But when your car insurance renewal quote arrives on your doormat, you could be forgiven for thinking again… Perhaps even for hunting out your local bus timetable.
Auto insurance can be a major cost for motorists who already face high fuel prices, paying for regular MOTs and services and of course covering the cost of the vehicle they drive each day.
If you’re looking to find cheaper cover, try these tips for lowering your car insurance costs.
1. Compare car insurance online
Shopping around for auto insurance is often a simple but effective way to reduce the price you pay for cover. Insurance companies rarely offer their very best deals to existing customers, instead reserving their cheapest possible prices for new customers. Compare cheap car insurance quotes to see how much you can save by switching insurers. Just remember to make sure you are comparing like for like cover, with voluntary excesses set at the same level and including any extras that you’d usually add on.
2. Increase your excess
Opting for a higher voluntary excess when setting up your car insurance cover is another way to reduce your premium. As a general rule of thumb, the higher your excess, the lower your premium - so experiment using our car insurance comparison tool to see how much difference an increased excess could make to your annual auto insurance costs. Remember, though, that you must be able to afford your voluntary excess. If you need to make an insurance claim, you’ll be required to stump it up before your insurer will pay out.
3. Go no-frills
Think carefully before adding extras, such as legal expenses cover, windscreen cover or use of a courtesy car to your car insurance package. While insurance companies are often enthusiastic about their value and they might come in handy, they are not strictly necessary - and including too many add-ons could significantly bump up the price of your policy.
4. Think about the distance you drive
Before buying car insurance, think carefully about how far you really drive in your vehicle each year. If it’s possible for you to agree to a lower annual mileage cap than you did last time you bought insurance, it’s possible you’ll save money. This is an especially helpful tip for two car families, where one vehicle is likely to do more miles in a year than the other - but where this sometimes isn’t obvious until both cars’ odometers are checked.
5. Don’t pay by direct debit
While spreading the cost of your auto insurance might feel less painful than paying for your premium in one go, it will probably cost you more in the long run. Many insurance companies charge interest when customers opt to pay for their insurance monthly, so check before you sign on the dotted line. If your insurer’s policy is to charge interest but you would like to spread the cost of your cover for free, you could consider using a 0% purchase credit card to pay for it - just be sure to clear your balance in full before the 0% period ends.
6. Other ways to cut the cost of motoring
Pump prices might have fallen, but it still costs well north of £50 for a tankful of petrol or diesel in a typical family car.
You can reduce consumption in a number of ways. For example, if your tyres are under-inflated, you’ll use more fuel, especially on lengthy journeys.
Manufacturers recommend checking and correcting the pressure every couple of weeks. If that sounds unrealistic, aim for at least once a month, and always before you go on a long trip.
A quick win on fuel consumption is to remove excess weight. So take a look in the boot and footwells to see if you’re carrying around burdens that are burning a hole in your wallet.
You can also save fuel by driving more smoothly – don’t accelerate or brake harshly, and don’t linger in a low gear longer than is necessary. And if you’re going to be stationary for any length of time – waiting at the school gates, maybe – turn of your engine rather than let it idle.
Fuel costs also vary between forecourts, so it can make sense to shop around to find the lowest priced fuel.
But driving further for cheaper fuel means you could end up spending more to get there than you save at the pump.
Our handy Fuel Cost Calculator will help you work out if your search for cheaper fuel is actually costing you more.
7. Consider car-share
A more radical way to save money is to car-share – either as a permanent arrangement with someone whose schedule fits nicely with yours, or on specific journeys, such as the commute to work or the school run.