Ease the premium pain

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Ease the premium pain
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What Car? Staff
2 Apr 2012 14:46

A young driver can easily pay thousands of pounds in insurance premiums, but there are ways to ease the pain and save 100s.

Fuel prices are up, road tax is up, but still car insurance remains the biggest cost for teenagers. The average policy for a 17-22-year-old male now costs a staggering 3000, according to the AAs British Insurance Premium Index.

Unfortunately theres no magic way to slash premiums, but there are ways to avoid the monstrous quotes that strike fear into young drivers and their parents.

Many of these techniques have been around for a while, but theyre as relevant for a 17-year-old today as they were for their parents. The good news is that there are also several new tricks to drop your premiums.

The old favourites still work, with perhaps the most obvious and effective being the car itself. A car with a bigger engine will increase premiums, even if its a family car. A higher trim level might bring extra toys, but forgoing luxuries such as air-conditioning could help keep a car in a lower insurance group.

There are other lesser-known tactics, such as increasing your excess. Insurance companies often take this into account when calculating your premium. If you opt for a 500 excess instead of a 100 one, for example, your premium could drop by 400. Dont increase it too much, though, because youll face a big bill if you do have a crash.

Adding extra drivers to a policy can actually bring a premium down, especially for young male drivers. The AAs Ian Crowder explains: If youre a young man, you can put your mum or even your girlfriend on your policy, and that may get you a discount.

This is certainly true for the time being, although its a trick that will work only in the short term. A change to equality laws next year means that insurers will not be allowed to discriminate on the basis of gender.

As of December 2012, gender can no longer be taken into account when calculating insurance costs, Mr Crowder points out. Well see young womens costs go up dramatically at that point, he adds.

If borrowing another family members car is sufficient for a young drivers motoring needs, and that relative is willing to lend it regularly, this could prove even cheaper. The younger driver could become a named driver on the older drivers policy, and nowadays insurance companies will reward such drivers if they avoid having an incident.

Some insurers, such as Direct Line, reward named drivers for remaining claim-free with a special no-claims discount, which they can then take with them when they get their own car. This isnt universal, though; future insurers might refuse to honour the accrued no-claims. Its worth checking this, but even a discount that isnt accepted everywhere is better than none at all.