Car Insurance: How to get the right policy at the best price | car insurance

Advance Purchase

Car insurance is a necessity but with household bills rising sharply, many motorists will be looking for ways to cut the cost.

Do not leave your insurance purchase until the renewal date. Ideally, you want to compare the cost of policies three to four weeks in advance.

According to comparison site Go.Compare, buying coverage 21 to 26 days in advance can be significantly cheaper than buying the day before.

“We think insurance companies better price those looking for insurance cover away from the renewal date, as they may be seen as more regulated and less risky,” says Ryan Fulthorpe, auto insurance expert at Go.Compare.

He adds that it is therefore important to leave plenty of time to ensure that you have the right policy for your needs and budget.

Shop around

The average annual premium is £571, increasing to £1,277 for younger drivers (those aged 17-24), according to Comparethemarket.

Close-up of car keys on a white background
You must purchase at least a third party cover as a driver.
Photo: George Medvanian/Getty Images/IM

Changes in industry rules, which took effect in January of this year, mean insurers are prohibited from offering policyholders a higher rate for renewal than they would offer to a new customer.

However, it’s still worth comparing the costs, says the site, which believes people can save around £328 a year on average by shopping.

There are a lot of comparison sites out there. In addition to the two mentioned, there are companies such as Confused.com and Moneysupermarket.

You should purchase cover from at least a third party as a driver – but keep in mind that this is not necessarily cheaper than an all-inclusive policy. That’s because a lot of high-risk drivers tend to choose third-party coverage as a way to reduce their costs, and the number of claims made on these is often greater.

Get the black box policy

Black box (or remote) insurance rewards you for safer driving. It is especially useful for younger drivers, who can be affected by very high premiums, but there is usually no age limit when it comes to issuing an insurance policy.

Your insurance company will usually put a small device in your car, or will ask you to download a smartphone app that monitors your driving and sends data.

The device or app uses information such as how fast you drive, how smoothly you brake and what times of the day you tend to drive to make a decision on the outcome. This is then used to set your premiums, and hopefully, reduce significantly over time.

There are dozens of black box insurance brands, such as Admiral LittleBox, Tesco Bank Box Insurance, Insurethebox, Autosaint, Bell, RAC Black Box Insurance, and Carrot Insurance.

Who do you add to your policy?

If you are an older motorist, adding a smaller driver can increase your premium. Insurance companies usually classify younger drivers as a higher risk, so this will likely increase your costs. However, adding the name of an older relative as a named driver can reduce costs for younger drivers.

Beware of “confrontation,” although it is illegal and occurs when a parent or senior citizen claims to be the prime mover of a policy.

Vehicles driving along the M4 motorway near Bristol in 2018.
The fewer miles you drive, the lower your insurance premiums should be. Photography: Ben Birchall/PA

Keep in mind that you can have two separate documents on the same vehicle.

This might be the best option, depending on the identity of the drivers, because it also wouldn’t affect the no-claim bonus if the other person needed to make a claim.

Lower your mileage

The fewer miles you drive, the lower your premiums should be as there is less chance of making a claim.

Check your MOT certificates for mileage from previous years, and be sure not to overstate this when applying for insurance.

Consider if you could reduce your mileage, such as by cycling or taking the bus for some trips.

Besides, with higher gasoline costs, the use of other modes of transportation can also reduce overall travel costs.

But you have to be honest when applying for coverage, as a claim can be denied if the mileage doesn’t match.

A country bus service bus on a narrow country road in Suffolk, England, United Kingdom.
Have you considered other means of transportation to save driving costs? Photo: Graham Turner/The Guardian

Don’t modify your car

Making changes to your vehicle, such as installing alloy wheels or installing tinted windows, can increase your insurance premiums significantly.

Sarah Newell, a vehicle insurance expert at Moneysupermarket, says alloy wheels, suspension changes and exhaust system changes are some of the most common modifications. Other popular customizations include tow bars and engine management systems.”

She adds that motorists who use high-performance cars are more likely to get involved in a crash, and many modifications improve vehicle performance, so insurance companies calculate their premiums should be higher.

“Modified vehicles are also often more attractive to thieves, and more prone to theft, which also increases your premium.”

Always check with your insurance company before making adjustments to see if you need to pay extra – if you don’t, it could invalidate your policy.

Consider your profession

Be honest about what you do for a living when applying for cover. But you may want to think about how you describe what you do.

Money supermarket says soccer players and fast food delivery drivers are among those paying the most.

You usually have to choose from a dropdown list of occupations but you may find that many job titles work.

mini
Small clothes insurance, which young bikers are popular for, can be expensive. Photo: Mark Boland/Getty Images

For example, if you work as a journalist, you might be able to call yourself a writer or publisher, while if you’re a chef, try describing yourself as a promoter, instead (if that option is available) to see if this reduces the cost.

Low Insurance Forms

You can check which group the car is sitting in using the tool on the Parkers website, car ratings, reviews and advice.

These range from one to 50, and the lower the group number, the cheaper the insurance.

As you’d expect, the most expensive groups are filled with powerful sports cars, while the cheapest groups include plenty of hatchbacks. However, there are some surprises that indicate that before buying a car, you may want to check which group the car is located in.

For example, insurance on Minis can be expensive, as some models are especially popular with young drivers, while the small Citroën DS3 falls in the same category as the Range Rover, according to Parkers.