There’s no two ways about it, having a car these days is costly. It’s expensive enough every time you fill it with petrol, but add in the legal extras of road tax, insurance and MOT, and you’re talking thousands of pounds a year to keep an everyday family saloon on the road.
The car insurance element is one of the most expensive aspects of being a driver, and ways to keep down premiums is a commonly discussed subject.
With the average price of cover costing £569 in 2013 (with many younger drivers paying three or four times that) it’s well worth taking action to reduce the cost.
From deciding to pay a higher excess to fitting security devices, there are a number of ways to cut those pesky insurance premiums; here are those considered to be some of the best:
- Increase your excess – This is one of the most immediate ways of slashing insurance costs. Basically, the higher the excess you choose (the ‘excess’ is the first part of any claim which you have to pay), the lower your premiums.
- Cut the ‘extras’ – If you have a brother with a tow truck, or own a second car, why not have common items such as ‘roadside rescue’ or ‘free car hire’ taken off the policy quote? It could reduce the premium.
- Get a range of quotes – Don’t just stick with the same insurer year after year! If you do, the chances are you’ll be paying over the odds. Use online search engines and brokers to get a range of quotes.
- Marry someone! – Drivers who are married are seen as a less risky proposition (they’re more ‘stable’ by nature, apparently). Of course, insurers view ‘less risky’ more favourably.
- Start looking early – You can ‘freeze’ the price of a quote usually up to 28 days before the start date it’s needed. That way, if the price goes up, you won’t be affected.
- Add a more experienced driver – If you’ve just passed your test, adding an older, more experienced driver to your policy can bring down cover costs. Just make sure they live at the same address as you, or it could be seen as insurance fraud.
- Get a garage or off-road parking – Cars kept in garages, or at least in private areas off-road, are seen as a safer bet by insurers (i.e. the car is less likely to be damaged, broken into or taken).
- Improve security – Fitting an alarm, as well as some sort of tracking device and immobiliser, also helps bring down your car insurance premiums.
- Buy a less fancy car – Cheaper cars with smaller engines (and therefore less costly repairs) are usually viewed more favourably than fancy, expensive cars.
- Multi-car discounts – Some insurers will give you good discounts if you insurer more than one car with them.
- Pay up front, don’t spread it out – Discounts of several percent are usually offered if you pay for your cover in one go rather than spread out over the period of insurance.
- Drive less – The lower the annual mileage you do, again, the less of a ‘risk’ you’re seen as. It’s logical; statistically, if you only do a few thousand miles a year, you’re probably less likely to have a crash than if you do 20,000 miles a year.
- Drive an old banger? Go for third party cover only – If your car is old and worth very little, there’s probably not much point having anything other than third party cover, and perhaps roadside rescue.
- Don’t pimp your ride – If you add ‘boys toys’ type effects, such as spoilers, fancy wheels and souped-up engine parts, the insurer will become suspicious that you’re a bit of a fast driver (whether you do or not), and charge you extra because of it.
- Take the ‘Pass Plus’ test – If you take the ‘Pass Plus’ training course (and don’t fail it!), you’re seen as a much, much reduced risk as a driver and discounts of up to 30% are on offer.
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James is a journalist and digital editor with over 13 years’ experience writing and editing for media and finance businesses. He specialises in personal finance and economics, but also covers property, travel and news.