How to get cheap car insurance

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

BuyaCar team
Nov 23, 2016
Niik Leuangboriboon /

Fitting a dashboard camera could save you 10% on your insurance premium

Depending how old you are and what you drive, insurance can be the biggest annual expense involved in owning a car. What’s more, despite the presence of comparison websites helping to make premiums more transparent, it isn’t getting cheaper.

In fact, according to the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA), in the second quarter of 2016, car insurance premiums shot up by 11% compared with the same period in 2015. When insurance premium tax (IPT), which increased by 66.7% in the same period, is added, motorists are actually paying 15% more for the same cover.

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 18 steps. Even if you can only take one or two, they could have a big impact on your premium.


Get 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.

See the cheapest cars to insure


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.


Shop around

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.


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.


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 those 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.


Buy a car with AEB

Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) 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.


Your job

What 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, saying you’re a chef in a restaurant is viewed more favourably by insurers than saying you’re a cook in a café.


Pay a higher excess

Agreing 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. Better still, consider taking out a 0% credit card and paying it that way instead, making sure you settle the balance within the year.


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.


Don’t speed

Even having just one SP30 speeding penalty and a £100 fine can raise your premium, so think about your renewal and don’t speed.


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.


Garage your car

It’s not always possible 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.


Have a black box fitted

This device sits in the car’s engine bay and monitors your driving style, where and when you drive (so it knows speed limits, too) and distances travelled. As a result, insurers get a better idea of what kind of risk you represent (they monitor the black box’s data) and will reward you with a lower premium.

During the term of your policy they may also reward you with an increase in your mileage, (if you capped it at the outset). However, compare installation costs (some insurers charge, some don’t) and the small print, particularly in relation to what happens if your standard of driving falls far short of what the insurer expects.


Do fewer miles

Some insurers take into account your annual mileage, so quoting a lower mileage could reduce your costs.


Take driver training

Polishing your driving skills with a recognised training organisation is another way to drive down your premium. 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.


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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