Getting the best deal on your car insurance

Budget or cut-down insurance may not give you the protection you need
Budget or cut-down insurance may not give you the protection you need
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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It’s no secret that the cost of keeping a car on the road has skyrocketed in recent months.

Petrol price rises and insurance premium hikes have both done their bit in squeezing motorists like never before.

But while it might be wishful thinking to imagine we have any control over what you pay at the pump, there certainly are ways to avoid handing over more than you need to insurers.

The AA estimates that in the past 12 months the cost of comprehensive cover went up by a whopping 40 per cent, while third party, fire and theft rose by an almost unbelievable 82 per cent.

And you can bet that insurers are going to make taking out policies for younger drivers or first-time customers especially hard on you wallet.

But there are certainly things you can do – or not do – that can bring those costs down.

Below Streetwise identifies five dos and five don’ts which might help you avoid spending far more than you need to on cover.

Do:

· Demand discounts

Anti-theft devices, advanced driving classes, or insuring more than one car with the same company can reduce your premiums.

Surprisingly, so can adding a named driver who has held their licence for some time. If you’re doing these things let your insurer know and ask for money off.

· Shop around

Renewing each year with the same insurer allows them to take more from you so they can provide discounts to knew customers.

Anyone who has spent time studying the industry will tell you that, sadly, loyalty doesn’t pay. So compare prices online to find the best deal whenever your quote comes up for renewal.

· Have a voluntary excess

As well as the normal policy excesses that apply when you make a claim, you can opt to pay a further voluntary excess of up to £1,000. By doing so, you share the cost of future claims with your insurer, which rewards you with a lower premium.

Just don’t choose an excess you won’t be ale to afford when a claim comes along.

· Insure at full value

Under-insuring may lower your premium, but if your insurer finds out it could cancel your policy or pay out much less than your car is worth when you claim.

Likewise, it makes no sense to over-insure a car, so check your vehicle’s market value before getting quotes.

· Pay in one go

It can be painful, but you will take a massive hit if you choose to pay monthly rather than in a lump sum.

If you choose to pay in instalments, then expect to be charged interest rates of more than 30 per cent.

Don’t:

· Rush paperwork

Factors such as your age, occupation, address, car specification and where it’s kept can influence your insurance premium. Be sure to get these and other details accurate on your insurance proposal.

· Hide anything

Not telling your insurer about previous motoring offences, penalty points, car modifications or accidents is never a good idea.

Be honest; if you withhold information and it comes to light later, your cover will be cancelled and you could even face criminal charges.

· ‘Front’ a younger driver

‘Fronting’ is where a parent or other experienced driver claims to be the main user of a vehicle which is really being mainly driven by a younger or less experienced motorist.

Much like the point above, lowering your premiums like this is fraud and will invalidate your policy.

· Buy budget or cut-down cover

There’s not much point in buying a cheap policy if it doesn’t suit your needs.

Some people buy third-party, fire and theft cover, when shopping around could find them a fully comprehensive policy for just a few pounds more. Before buying, always get quotes for various coverage levels and read the small print.

· Neglect your car

Everyone knows small problems left untreated can turn into big ones, and neglecting your car can prove very expensive indeed, especially if poor car-care leads to an accident.

It makes sense to get your car serviced each year, and check your tyres, lights, engine oil and coolant levels on a regular basis.