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How do I get the cheapest car insurance?

Very cheap car insurance does exist. However, insurance is all about risk. To find the very lowest cost car insurance quotes you need to:

Which is the cheapest car insurance company?

There is no insurance company which is cheaper than all the rest for every driver. Motor insurance companies use statistics to work out how risky a particular car or driver is but most of them interpret these stats in different ways. This is why some insurers offer cheaper quotes than others for, perhaps, younger drivers, whilst offering more expensive premiums for the over fifties. Others may provide lower rates for family cars, whilst offering policies for sports cars which are a lot less competitive than other companies. This is why you need to get multiple quotes.

Are price comparison sites the best way for me to find cheaper insurance?

Sometimes, but not always. Price comparison sites get a commission for every policy they sell and this adds to the cost. Also, most of them bundle in extras such as 'free' courtesy cars or legal assistance which earn them extra commission and often represent poor value for money.

They do, however, usually provide instant quotations, whilst buying through an independent broker, who may be able to find even lower priced premiums, can take you more time. On the other hand they are no use to motorists who fall outside certain standard criteria.

When are price comparison not recommended?

Motorists with even minor convictions, whether criminal or driving ones; people in certain postcodes, or with particular occupations, or driving certain types of vehicle, or with any number of non-standard circumstances run the risk of having a quotation obtained through a price comparison site refused by the insurer or, even worse, accepted but with with a subsequent claim being refused because of non-disclosure. If there is any doubt you may be best talking to a specialist broker.

Is it safe to just accept the lowest quotation?

No, you should never accept an insurance quote without reading the documentation, and checking out the insurer, first. Some companies will offer you a low initial premium but load on all kinds of extra charges. For instance, if you change your job, your parking arrangements, your hours of work, your mileage, or any other factors which could affect your premium, you have to contact your insurer or broker for a 'mid-term adjustment'. Some will do this for free, some will charge you lot of money. I have seen charges as high as £120 for just registering a change of address! All these charges have to be explained in the documentation which has to be made easily available to you; it is vital that you read it carefully.

Also, some insurers behave in a less ethical manner than others or are more difficult to contact when you need them. If the insurer you are thinking about isn't a well-known brand, checking them out on Google could help you avoid an expensive mistake.

Am I best staying with my current insurer?

Rarely. If you have agreed to have your policies automatically renewed every year you will probably find that the premium increases every time. Hardly any insurers point this out so the majority of motorists go along with it and pay more expensive premiums than they need to as a result. It is highly likely that if you shop around each year you will find better offers.

Keeping Your Premiums Low

Should I buy a protected no claims bonus?

Often, these are not worth the paper they are written on. Most people believe that buying one means that if they have an accident their premium won't increase as a result of it. Wrong. The NCB may stay the same but the premium it is based on will go up, perhaps substantially.

For example, let us say your basic premium was £500 with a 20% no-claims discount, meaning a final premium of £400. You have an accident, your NCB stays the same but your basic premium goes up to £700! With your NCB still at 20% your final premium is £560; a £160 increase! That protected policy doesn't look such good value now, does it.

Should I claim for slight accidents?

You could consider paying for the odd small bump yourself or doing a deal with the other driver. But you would need to keep quiet about it. Strictly speaking you should tell your insurer about every accident you have, however minor. These will be marked on your record and could result in higher premiums even if you have not made a claim. Should you report every accident? I'll leave that to you.

Should I accept cut-price extras?

A lot of insurance salespeople (and yes, 'customer service' people are sales staff) will offer you extras such as a guaranteed courtesy car, legal representation, personal accident cover etc. If/when you turn them down you may be offered them at a greatly reduced rate. If you really want to buy them then by all means do so but be aware that at the next renewal they will be quietly slipped in again, only this time at full price. Don't fall for it.

Are telematics a good idea?

If you're in a high risk bracket, consider a telematics or 'black box' policy. These reward good, considerate drivers with lower premiums. They also impose road discipline; if you exceed a speed limit, brake too hard, take a corner too fast, too often, your insurance company will know about it and could either increase your premium or even refuse to continue to insure you at all. This could make you a safer driver but it could also rebound on you if you have risky driving habits.

Is there anything else I should do?

Think about the car you are driving. Would it make economic sense to change it for a newer one in a lower insurance bracket? Many modern cars have much better safety profiles, better miles per gallon, more power per cc than those that are even just a few years older. There are many low-cost lease deals available these days and it could actually work out cheaper to drive a clean, modern, reliable new car than your older one with it's high maintenance costs and occasional breakdowns.

Try to make sure the car is parked off the road every night and, if possible, during the day, too. Car thefts and acts of vandalism occur much more when cars are heft by the roadside which means more claims for the insurance companies and heartache, inconvenience and higher premiums for you.

Consider extra safety precautions. Remember that many keyless entry systems are insecure but extra alarms and a good steering lock may deter all but the most determined thieves. You'll feel safer and you might get a premium reduction too.

Fit a dashcam. You can buy them very cheaply and they can make all the difference in proving the other driver was liable for that bump (I know, I've benefited from one myself)!

Ask for a discount! If you are happy with your current insurer, why not ring them up at renewal time, point out that you are looking for cheaper quotes elsewhere and ask them for a premium reduction? The worst they can do is say 'no', but since they will probably want to keep your business they may well come back with a cheaper quotation. It's always worth asking. You may yet be offered very, very cheap car insurance!

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