How to find cheap car insurance
By Dean Sobers
How to find cheap car insurance
Car insurance may be the ultimate grudge purchase but it doesn’t need to leave you out of pocket. Follow our tips to slash the cost.
Watch our video explaining three things you need to know about car insurance, then follow our top tips to slash the cost of your cover.
1. Use comparison sites to get quick quotes
Price comparison sites are a good place to start as they allow you to get multiple quotes quickly. The sites are not always 100% reliable, though, so make sure you double check the policy you're interested has everything you need when you click through to the website of the provider. Remember, not every provider appears on comparison sites – check Aviva, Direct Line and Zurich as well to see if they can offer you cheap cover.
Find out more: price comparison sites - tips on how to make the most of them
2. Set the right excess
If you're willing to fork out more on your excess – the amount you have to pay yourself in the event of a claim – your insurer will reward you with lower premiums. However, make sure you select your excess carefully.
Setting the bar too high, especially if starts getting too close to your claims limit, might make claiming on your car insurance either pointless or too expensive.
Find out more: car insurance: add-ons - fees and charges to watch out for.
3. Choose your occupation carefully
Insurers look at many factors when calculating the cost of cover including what you do for a living. However, the job categories used can be broad meaning that many drivers could fit into many different segments.
For example, if you work in publishing as a writer and put your occupation as journalist you're likely to pay more than you would if you put down editor, copywriter or even reporter. If you're unemployed, but are a housewife or househusband, putting yourself down as a homemaker instead can help you save money.
However, remember that you should never lie about job. Don’t say you're a butcher if you’re a baker. This is considered fraud and you could be prosecuted.
4. Avoid modifying your car
Don’t be fooled into thinking that insurers only consider boy racer cars as being modified. Even a small modification to your car, such as new alloys, can cause your premiums to rise. If you're going to make any changes to your car always discuss them with your insurer first.
Conversely, any modification to your vehicle that increases it safety could save you money. Installing an alarm, tracker or immobiliser – especially if approved by car safety research firm Thatcham – can set your car insurance premiums tumbling.
5. Pay for your cover annually (if you can afford to)
Insurers will give you the option to pay for you cover in two ways - on a monthly basis or in annual lump sum. While paying monthly might seem like a sensible way to spread the cost, it can cost £100 more than paying annually.
Paying for cover on a monthly basis involves taking a loan, usually at high interest, from your provider. APR can vary but it can be as high as 40%. Some insurers will also charge you a fee for setting up a monthly payment plan. Kwik Fit, for example, charges £35 for providing you with credit.
Always check pay-monthly fees and the compare the cost against annual cover. It's not always clear on comparison sites what APR you'd pay, so check with the insurer direct before accepting a quote
Insurers reserve the best deals for new customers and often push up the premiums for their loyal policyholders, so it can pay to haggle with your provider when the time comes to renew your policy.
In November 2016, we asked more than 4,000 Which? members if they'd haggled over the cost of their car insurance in the past year. Around half said they'd given a go - and 79% of them were offered a better deal or an incentive to stay by their insurer.
You can boost your chances of getting a discount on your car insurance by using our tried-and-tested haggling script:'I would like to find out why my renewal price has increased'
Wait for the response. Explain that you have shopped around, and provide details of the cheapest quote you have received.'[Name of other provider] has quoted me [details of offer]. Are you prepared to better this quote?'
Wait and see what the call handler says. If they don't better this offer, you can push a little harder.'What's the lowest rate you can quote me to keep me as a customer? If it's not better than this cheaper quote, I'll go elsewhere.'
At this point, the call handler should offer you some sort of incentive to stay. It's up to you whether to accept or switch to a cheaper provider.
Find out more: haggling - see our top 10 tips for haggling successfully
7. Check the specialists
Drivers over 50 and drivers under 25 are statistically more likely than other motorists to be involved in accidents, which means that they'll still pay more for cover.
However, black box car insurance, also known as telematics, can be used by any motorist looking to save money. A black box is fitted to your car, monitoring how you drive. If you can prove that you're a good driver you're rewarded, usually with cheaper cover.
If you're an older driver there are specialist providers, such as Age UK, RIAS and Saga, you can get quotes from.
Find out more: car insurance for the under 25s and the over 50s - tips for younger and older motorists.
8. Try a broker
If you’re still having trouble finding suitable car cover, use the British Insurance Brokers' Association's 'find a broker service'. Call them on 0370 950 1790 or check biba.org.uk for more. You can also contact the Which? Money Helpline for advice on finding cover.
- Last updated: December 2016
- Updated by: Joe Elvin