Buying car insurance is a nuisance. It takes time and effort to get a reasonable quote, and usually, it’s expensive.
But, there are some innocent tricks of the trade that may bring your costs down.
- Calculate your real mileage for last year – if it’s lower than you thought, you may get a cheaper quote.
- If you can afford it, pay annually. A monthly direct debit scheme is usually a form of credit agreement, with interest, which will hike up the price.
- Upping your voluntary excess may also reduce the price of your insurance, but make sure you can afford this and the compulsory excess if you need to make a claim.
- Park your car in the garage or on a private driveway overnight to reduce the risk of theft or vandalism, and double check your car has an alarm, wheel-locking nuts and immobilisers.
- Add-ons such as legal assistance, courtesy car cover and windscreen cover are handy but may crank up the cost of cover.
Cheaper with no claims discount
If you’re claim-free, remember that your no claims discount (NCD) may be building up in the background, helping you save cash when you switch.
On 6 November 2017, GoCompare car insurance analysed 286 car insurance policies listed on the matrix of independent financial researcher, Defaqto, and discovered that:
- NCDS varied, but one policy had a maximum NCD of 90%
- Only eight policies protected your NCD as standard, while 259 had NCD protection as an optional extra
Even if you’ve little or no NCD on a car, you might still have options. For instance, motorcyclists can sometimes use an NCD earned on two wheels if they’re swapping the bike for a car – 28 policies allowed this.
What’s more, named drivers can sometimes build up their own NCD, with 46 policies allowing this and 115 policies allowed company car drivers to use their claim-free history.
What about breakdown cover?
Watch out for breakdown cover bundled into your car insurance as it may raise the price – GoCompare analysed 286 car insurance policies and found that 13% of comprehensive car insurance policies provide UK breakdown cover as standard, whereas 39% offered it as an optional extra.
It’s worth checking whether it’s cheaper to buy your breakdown cover separately rather than adding it as an optional extra with your car insurance.
Modifications and insurance groups
If you’re about to buy a new car, this is the time to think about your insurance too. Bear in mind that a car with a low insurance group will cost less to insure, and a motor with modifications – even something as innocuous as a sound system upgrade, or conversely, a performance upgrade – will usually be more expensive to insure.
There are ways to bag a car insurance bargain that can land you in hot legal waters.
“Adding a second driver as a named driver to your policy can often reduce the cost, particularly if that driver is an experienced driver with a clean licence and several years claim free,” explains GoCompare’s car insurance expert, Matt Oliver. “This is often a way young drivers can help reduce the cost of insuring their first vehicle.”
Here’s where the potential for trouble starts.
“’Fronting’ is the practice of parents insuring a car in their name and adding their child as a named driver, even though the child is the main driver of the vehicle," says Matt.
The young driver is the main driver, but states they are a second named driver, putting a parent, or more experienced individual as the main driver – in that situation, they’ll fall foul of the law pretty quickly.
“When declaring information to insurers you are obliged to notify them of any information that influences their view of the risk the drivers present.
“Failing to declare who is the main driver technically constitutes fraudulent behaviour and could impact the ability to claim after an accident, or the policy being cancelled.”
Insurers are generally wise to fronting and will price accordingly irrespective of who is declared as the main driver. Matt advises that “younger drivers are best to hold insurance in their name, with an experienced named driver also on the policy so they can build up their own no claims discount, and most importantly not break the law.”
Fronting just isn’t worth the risk. Think about the consequences:
- The insurer may cancel the policy and you could end up driving without insurance. If caught, you could get points on your licence and even a ban.
- It’s a criminal offence, meaning you’ll get a criminal record
And, to add insult to injury, you could find it extremely hard to get car insurance in the future – firstly, for having an insurance policy refused, and secondly for having a conviction.