How to get cheap car insurance

Find the best tips and advice as we show you how to get cheap car insurance

BuyaCar team
May 18, 2018

Insurance has fast become the most expensive part of owning a car for some. Young people especially can sometimes receive quotes that are higher than the value of their car.

According to the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA), in the fourth quarter of 2017, car insurance premiums shot up by around 10% compared with the same period in 2016. The rate of Insurance Premium Tax has doubled since 2015, reaching 12% in June 2017. This means that the average driver pays nearly £60 a year in tax alone.

The result is that premiums are the most expensive they’ve been since BIBA began tracking them in 2010. Among those hardest hit by the increases are young drivers. They’re already paying around £1300 for insurance but could be hit by annual increases in the order of £200.

The rise in IPT, the growing problem of uninsured drivers and the continuing high level of whiplash payouts are all reasons for the increase in motor insurance premiums.

So what can you do to minimise the effect on your pocket? Quite a lot actually; we've identified 20 steps in four different areas that are listed below. Even if you can only take one or two, they could have a big impact on your premium.

   

Get cheap insurance by buying the right car

  • Buy a car that's cheap to insure
    If you’re about to buy a car and the insurance to go with it, check the car’s insurance group. There are 50 groups and they have a big impact on premiums. Cheap, low-power cars such as city cars, for example, generally fall into groups 1 to 4. Meanwhile, family hatchbacks typically fall into groups 10-15.
  • Buy a car with AEB
    Autonomous emergency braking (AEB, above) is a new safety technology rapidly being adopted by car makers that uses a front-mounted camera and sensors to scan the road ahead for obstacles, including cars, that could be a threat. If the system senses the driver is not taking action to avoid a crash, it can apply the brakes and perform an emergency stop. Insurance claims for cars fitted with AEB have fallen around 18%, enough to persuade insurers to reduce the insurance rating of cars fitted with the system by up to five groups, the equivalent of a 10% premium reduction. Unfortunately, the system cannot be retro-fitted.
  • Fit a dashcam
    Some insurers offer as much as 10% off your premium if your car has a dashboard-mounted camera. The dash-cam can be used to record every journey you take and a growing number of insurers believe they a vital source of video evidence that could help settle claims quickly and efficiently.They cost from around £100 and are easy to fit. More expensive ones have a GPS system that can record your car’s location, speed, and direction of travel.

   

Get cheaper insurance by changing the way you drive

  • Don’t speed
    Even having just one SP30 speeding penalty and a £100 fine can raise your premium by a further £100, according to MoneySupermarket.com, the price comparison website.. Other offences that you might consider minor can raise your premium even further. Undertaking another car, for example, can be classed as driving without due care and attention and increase your premium by twice as much as speeding.
  • Have a black box fitted
    This device is plugged into your car and receives information about your speed, cornering and braking. It knows when and where and you drive (so it checks you're abiding by speed limits too. Insurers monitor the data and will reward you if you're driving safely with a lower premium, either during the policy or when you come to renew. Beware installation costs and higher premiums if you drive dangerously. Excessive speed can also result in your insurance being cancelled.
  • Take driver training
    Polishing your driving skills with a recognised training organisation is another way to drive down your premium. Gocompare.com says some insurers give reductions to people holding a valid Institute of Advanced Motorists driving certificate. Some insurers recognise successful completion of the government’s Pass Plus inexperienced driver course, too. However, not all insurers give discounts for drivers having these qualifications.

Make the best of your situation for cheaper insurance

  • Your job
    The job you do will affect what premium you pay. You can’t lie about what you do but making sure that you're accurate in your descriptions will help. For example, according to comparison website Gocompare.com, saying you’re a chef in a restaurant is viewed more favourably by insurers than saying you’re a cook in a café.
  • Don’t ‘front’
    If you’re a young driver, it may be tempting to ask a family member to insure themselves as the principal driver and you as the named one, even though you’ll be doing most of the driving. Not only is this illegal and risking your cover, but you’ll delay earning a no-claims bonus, meaning next year’s premium will be higher still.
  • Add an older, named driver to your policy
    Diluting your level of risk by adding a lower-risk driver can reduce your premium. Insurers won’t check if the named driver ever drives the car but always remember that they investigate claims carefully and it pays to enter an insurance agreement confident that what you have declared, is true.
  • Make sure your mileage estimate is accurate
    Some insurers take into account your annual mileage, so quoting the lowest realistic mileage could reduce your costs.
  • Park your car in a garage
    It’s not an option for everyone but parking your car on the driveway will help drive down your premium. Clearing out the garage and parking your car in it will reduce it further still.

   

Shop around to get cheap insurance

    • Give yourself time
      Don’t rush into buying insurance. Most quotes are valid for three weeks, so use the time to do your homework and don’t be bounced into the first quote you get. Don't leave it until the last minute, either. Some insurers are thought to increase the cost of the premium of you're looking for it to start within the next 24 hours, as they know you're likely to be desperate for cover and don't have time to compare prices.
    • Avoid renewing automatically
      If you’re renewing your insurance, don’t just accept your existing insurer’s new premium (which invariably will be much higher). Haggle down the price but check it doesn’t come at the expense of your existing cover. Still not happy? Get a fresh quote online from the same company via a comparison website. As a ‘new business’ customer it may be much lower and you can take that quote back to the insurer to beat down your renewal.
    • Compare prices
      Obvious, really, but it can save you a lot of money. While you do, though, make sure you’re comparing like with like, taking account of excesses and extras including hire car provision.
    • Check the comparison websites…
      Comparison websites have done a good job of presenting themselves as the only destination for cheap insurance. They aren’t always but at least you can get a feel for premiums and the extras you can expect to get.
    • …but don’t forget those who don’t feature on them, including brokers
      Not all insurers are on the comparison websites. Among the big ones that aren’t are Aviva and Direct Line so contact them separately. Meanwhile, traditional insurance brokers are good if you have a more complicated risk profile. Even for the average applicant they offer a listening ear and often greater flexibility, being able to tailor cover to suit your circumstances as well as your pocket.
    • Watch the extras
      Enhanced courtesy car cover, legal expenses cover, stereo cover… insurers have got very good at offering tempting extras to ensure they squeeze every last penny out of you. Ask yourself if you really need these extras because they’ll seriously bump up your premium. Most policies provide a standard loan car when your car is being repaired, for example. Also, if you have a large excess, it could easily wipe out the benefit of smaller extras.
    • Pay a higher excess
      Agreeing to pay a higher excess (the amount you contribute if you claim) will reduce your premium. Using the insurer’s online excess adjustment tool will show you by how much, so judge whether the reduction is worth the extra you’re paying in excess – it isn’t always. And if the car is of a low value, watch that your excess is proportionate.
    • Don’t pay the insurer’s interest rate
      Insurers’ rates for paying your insurance monthly are often very high. Check if you can borrow the money at a cheaper rate and pay the premium in one go. This can often be done in combination with new or used car finance. A 0% credit card could also offer a cost-effective way of paying the premium - as long as you settle the bill before interest is charged.
    • Don’t forget your no-claims bonus
      Know what your bonus is and always remember to quote it when shopping around.

  

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