20 tips to cut the cost of car insurance

With petrol prices falling, there is at last some good news for motorists but unfortunately cheaper fuel doesn’t answer all the prayers of car drivers. The cost of driving and running a car continues to rise with recent research from Sainsbury’s Bank having revealed that drivers have seen annual motoring costs rise to an average of £2,543.85.

Separate research from the AA found that insurance premiums have risen by an average of £50 over the past year and are up £22 in the last three months alone.

Much of the blame for this increase is resting on young shoulders with the average car accident insurance claim for a young male driver at nearly £4,500. Even though just 17 per cent of drivers are aged below 25, they account for around a third of all car insurance claims.

Regardless of age however, the emphasis is on motorists themselves to take the lead and find ways to cut their car insurance premiums. With this in mind here are 20 suggestions to drive your annual premiums down:

Shop around online

You can cut the cost of motor cover by a third if you compare prices from a number of providers. The average saving is £152 according to independent research carried out by Consumer Intelligence for moneysupermarket.com.

Thankfully shopping around no longer involves trawling along the high street or making numerous phone calls. Our comparison tool compares quotes from more than 80 car insurance providers and brokers.

Buy the right car

If you’re in the market for a new car, choose carefully, particularly if you’re a young driver.

High performance cars are stung with heavy premiums so stick to conventional cars with small engines. Convertible cars are a particularly high risk and whereas most insurers do not apply policy excesses to vandalism claims, they do on convertible cars. Older models can be good buys as premiums drop when a car is five years old and again when it is ten years old.

Cars are ranked in insurance groups based on their value, cost to repair and replace parts, performance and security, so check out the insurance group before you buy.

Think about what you need

Don’t pay extra for cover you don’t need. For example, do you require a courtesy car if you already have a second car available? Think about the value of your car too – cars worth less than £2,000 may not require comprehensive cover and you could slash premiums with a third party only or third party fire and theft policy.

Limit the number of people who can drive your car

The more named drivers you include on a policy, the greater the premium –with teenagers particularly expensive. Rather than having them on a policy all year round you could take out temporary cover as and when you need it.

Agree to a higher voluntary excess

The more you’re willing to cover in the event of an accident, the lower your premiums will be. However, don’t go overboard – only set the excess at a level you could comfortably afford.

Consider specialist insurers

If you drive a car that is deemed “high risk”, such as a high-performance car, you could be better off comparing policies from specialist car insurers. Many insurers will offer unique policy options such as agreed valuations and offer cheaper cover. However, never assume that specialists are always the cheapest – make sure you shop around first.

Don’t modify a car

Around half of all insurers will not offer coverage if you have significantly modified a car so keep your customisations to a minimum.

Park your car in a garage

Insurers could slash premiums by 5-10% if your vehicle is kept in a garage or on a drive overnight, rather than on the road. If there is no garage or driveway available to you, park in a well-lit area.

Enhance security

Many insurers will offer discounts for security devices such as alarms, tracking devices and immobilisers. Generally, Thatcham-approved products are the ones to go for – the Thatcham Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre evaluates security products against the industry’s criteria and its verdicts are widely recognised.

Drive carefully

Building up a no-claims bonus could potentially save you 70% on your car insurance premiums over five years. While some accidents cannot be avoided you can reduce your risk by ensuring the car is well-maintained particularly over the winter months. Check all tyres for condition, pressure and tread depth; ensure lights and indicators are working and clean; examine the anti-freeze strength; and keep windows clean to enhance your vision. Be vigilant on the road, don’t tailgate and be aware of other road users.

Don’t make small claims

Sometimes it can be worth getting an estimate from a repairer you trust before contacting a car insurance company about a minor accident. Many problems might cost little more than the excess to resolve yet a claim could wipe out your no-claims bonus.

Put the phone down

A third of Brits still use handheld mobile phones while driving despite the fact that this has been illegal since December 2003. Not only does this risk a £60 fine if caught but moneysupermarket.com research has found that it could also hike car insurance premiums by 54%. Both LV= and Swiftcover will not return a quote for motorists that have been caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel. So switch the phone off, invest in a hands-free kit, or pull over to a safe stopping place when the phone rings.

Don’t speed

While some insurers are willing to overlook one speeding conviction, two or more will see your premiums rise by 25% on average with some insurers even pushing up premiums by as much as 74% for repeat offenders.

Be specific about how you will use the car

Most policies will cover you for “social, domestic and pleasure” (SDP) use along with commuting. This covers most day-to-day travelling including getting to and from work, going to the shops, visiting relatives, etc. However, some policies offer SDP with business use – covering you for business related trips in your car, such as to meetings, etc. Unless you are going to use the car for these purposes ensure you are limited to SDP and commuting, or even just SDP if you don’t travel to work.

Agree to a mileage cap

If you use the car infrequently, perhaps because you have another car in the household, then agree to a mileage cap. According to the AA you could earn a 5-10% discount with a 12,000 cap on annual mileage, with lower caps earning higher discounts.

Be specific about your job

Certain professions are frowned on by insurers, perhaps because they keep you on the road all the time or you’re likely to be more tired or stressed when getting behind the wheel.

While you must always be honest on an insurance policy you can often save money by listing your job title appropriately. For example, a journalist evokes images of roving reporters who are travelling quickly to grab the latest story. However, if you are more specific and enter “editor” you could cut your premiums significantly.

Pay annually

You can cut out interest charges by paying your premiums upfront if you have the cash to spare. Many insurers charge an annual rate of interest of more than 20% if you opt to pay monthly.

Improve your driving skills

Ask your insurer if it will offer a discount for taking an advanced driving course. These are particularly useful to new drivers if they take the Pass Plus course immediately after completing their driving test.

Get married

Married drivers statistically make fewer claims than single motorists perhaps due to the added responsibility of having a family at home, etc. Of course we don’t recommend using the prospect of cheaper car insurance as the reason to pop the question but it is in an added incentive if you’re thinking of doing it anyway.

Disclaimer: Please note that any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

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