Car insurance quotes can vary, both in price and in terms of the cover they offer. It pays to shop around and it’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple providers before choosing on a car insurance policy.
The following features are essential, so make sure your car insurance provider offers these before committing to a purchase:
Protected no claims discount
This ensures that you won’t lose your no-claims discount after you make a claim. Most car insurance companies will allow you to make up to two claims within a three-year period, although this may vary from insurer to insurer.
If your windscreen becomes damaged, it’s vital that your car insurance provider will cover a replacement or repair. It’s worth bearing in mind however that some policies won’t include sunroofs or windows as part of the cover. Using a non-approved repair company may also limit the amount your car insurance company will pay out for a claim.
This covers the damage or loss to any personal affects following a theft, fire or accident – for example, bags, CDs and other belongings. Most car insurance policies won’t cover money or debit/credit cards. Items will only be insured if the vehicle was locked and secured.
If you’ve been involved in an accident and your vehicle requires repairs, it’s likely you’ll need a courtesy car to get you from A to B until your car has been fixed. Many car insurance policies will limit the number of days they offer a courtesy car for (for example, a maximum of two weeks). Some insurers will only provide a courtesy car while your vehicle is being repaired in the garage.
It’s important to choose a policy where your insurer guarantees all repairs will be carried out by one of their approved mechanics. However, most car insurance companies won’t pay for the work to be undertaken by an engineer of your choice.
While these features are essential, other features to look out for when shopping around for a policy include:
If your vehicle is stolen and cannot be recovered following an accident, or the cost of repairing it exceeds a certain amount of the manufacturer’s retail price, your insurer may replace your car with a brand-new model of the same specifications as your original car. This usually only applies if you are the first registered owner of the vehicle and will be subject to a replacement being available in the UK.
If you’ve been in an accident and your car is severely damaged, some car insurance companies will cover the cost of a hotel for you and your passengers (typically up to £250 per person).
A good car insurance provider will have a 24-hour helpline for you to call in the event of an emergency. Many companies provide this as standard.
If you’ve been in an accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s helpful to have legal expenses covered by your motor insurance policy. This means you won’t be out of pocket when it comes to claiming for personal injuries or other expenses incurred because of the accident. Most insurance companies will agree in advance on what expenses they cover.
Some car insurance companies will offer breakdown cover in the event of your car requiring maintenance or repairs. This is only necessary if you don’t already have separate breakdown cover. Most insurers won’t cover any costs for replacement parts.
Transport in the event of an accident
If you’ve been in an accident which has immobilised your vehicle, adding accident transport to your car insurance policy will ensure that your insurer will arrange for you (and any passengers) to be transported away from the accident scene. Most insurance companies will limit the number of passengers they will transport.
Stereo/Sat Nav replacement
In-car technology can be expensive, and some insurers will provide cover to replace any lost or damaged equipment such as stereos and satellite navigation systems, up to the market value of the device. Non-manufacturer equipment or third-party devices may not be covered by the policy, so enquire with your prospective insurer first.
Car insurance quotes
If you’re a driver in the UK, you’re legally obliged to have car insurance. There are different levels of cover to choose from, and bizarrely enough, the best cover (fully comprehensive) is often the cheapest. When looking for car insurance quotes, it’s important to understand how your no-claims bonus works, and how to get the excess levels correct on your policy.
Levels of car insurance
There are three different car insurance levels – third party, third party fire and theft, and comprehensive.
Third party insurance will cover other people but won’t cover you in the event of an accident. If your car is damaged, you’ll be expected to pay for any repairs yourself. It’s only suitable if you don’t have a no-claims bonus, you live in an area considered a high-risk for crime, or if your car is worth less than £1000 and you have the means to purchase another in the event of an accident.
Third party fire and theft Car Insurance
Like third-party insurance, this covers other people as well as covering any repairs or replacements if your car is damaged by fire or stolen. It’s worth looking at numerous different car insurance quotes if you’re considering this sort of policy because third party fire and theft isn’t always cheaper than a fully comprehensive policy.
Fully comprehensive Car Insurance
This is the highest level of cover – on top of the basics covered by the previous two types of policy, it will also cover damage to your own vehicle – even if you’ve been in an accident that was your fault. A fully comprehensive car insurance policy will allow you to claim for repairs after an accident, accidental damage or vandalism (if someone deliberately damages your car). If necessary, you might be able to drive other people’s cars (with their permission), although you’ll only have third-party cover if that’s the case. All fully comprehensive policies are different, so it’s worth getting as many car insurance quotes as you can before settling on one.
Understanding your no-claims bonus for car insurance quotes
If you don’t make a claim, this generally demonstrates to your insurers that you’re a careful driver – therefore, your car insurance provider will be able to provide you with a discount. Your no-claims bonus grows year-on-year, provided you haven’t made a claim. Discounts will vary from company to company, but the scale is typically around the following:
• 30 per cent off after a year of no claims
• 40 per cent off after two years of no claims
• 50 per cent off after three years of no claims
• 60 per cent off after four years of no claims
• 65 per cent off after 5 or more years of no claims
If you’re involved in an accident and claim for it, you’ll generally lose two years of your no-claims bonus, and your car insurance premiums will go up. If you have more than two accidents in a year, you could potentially lose all your no-claims bonus. Sometimes, you might choose not to claim after an accident to protect your no-claims bonus, but this could still result in your premiums going up. You are obliged to notify your insurer if you’ve been in an accident, even if you don’t make a claim – failing to do this could result in a claim being refused.
What you must declare
When looking for car insurance quotes, it’s important to provide your prospective insurer(s) with up-to-date, accurate details about yourself and your vehicle, otherwise your policy could be invalidated. If not, it could make it more expensive to get insured in the future.
You should always notify your insurer if:
• You change address
• Use your car for business purposes
• Have points added to your licence
• Change your occupation
• Make any modifications to your vehicle
• Have an accident
• Change your vehicle security system
• Change where you keep/park your car
Looking for car insurance quotes
It pays to try and get car insurance quotes from as many sources as possible. Don’t be afraid to discuss any potential discounts with an insurer, and compare different insurers offers to get the best deal. The car insurance industry is a competitive one, which means that consumers often have the upper hand when it comes to adding perks or additional features – so make sure you ask!
Cheap car insurance
If you’re looking to find a cheap car insurance deal, this guide will explain how to get the best possible cover for the lowest possible price, and includes tips on everything from using price comparison sites to bartering for a discount:
Reduce your risk
By lowering the potential for your vehicle to be involved in an accident, fire or theft, you’ll automatically lower the potential cost of your car insurance policy. If you live in a high-risk area, consider fitting an approved immobiliser or alarm to your vehicle to dissuade potential thieves. If possible, park your car in a driveway or garage, and ensure any security devices are Thatcham-approved.
Understand low insurance groups
Vehicles which fit into lower insurance groups will automatically command lower premiums. Most car insurance providers prefer popular models which don’t cost a lot to repair in the event of an accident or breakdown.
Be honest about mileage
Low-mileage vehicles mean lower premiums – however, don’t simply underestimate your mileage, because this could invalidate your car insurance when it comes to making a claim.
If you can prove you’re a safe driver, you can expect to pay less for car insurance. This can be done by taking part in the Pass Plus scheme or another advanced driving course. Insurance claims after an accident will increase your premium, as will having points on your licence. Some insurers offer policies which assess your driving via telematics technology – drive carefully and enjoy a lower premium.
Add a safe second driver
You can actually reduce your car insurance premium by adding a named second driver who is a low risk – even if they don’t intend on using your vehicle much. However, be aware that adding newly-qualified younger drivers will increase the premium. It’s also worth pointing out that it is against the law to pretend that the second driver is the main driver when arranging your policy.
If you pay for your car insurance in monthly instalments, you might end up paying more. This is because some insurers charge interest on each instalment. This can be avoided by paying up-front on an annual basis, if you can afford to.
Only pay for what you need
Some car insurance providers might try to sell you extras with your policy – but only get what you need. For example, some bank accounts include car breakdown cover, and many car dealerships offer free repairs for a certain period. You might be able to find other extras, like legal expenses cover, for cheaper elsewhere – so don’t be afraid to shop around!
Carry your no-claims bonus
If you’re looking for cheap car insurance and decide to change suppliers, make sure that you’re allowed to carry your no-claims bonus over to your new insurer. If applicable, consider paying an additional premium to protect your no-claims bonus, particularly if you haven’t claimed for five or more years.
Consider voluntary excess
If you add a voluntary excess to your compulsory excess, this will lower your car insurance premium. It’s worth bearing in mind however that you’ll get less back when you make a claim, so you have to weigh up whether you can afford this.
The more time you spend obtaining cheap car insurance quotes, the more likely you are to get a good deal. This is particularly important for drivers who are under 25 or over 70 and at the first year of insurance renewal, as premiums can jump up significantly at this point.
If you have the time, try and get quotes from at least two different comparison sites, as well as using insurers and brokers who don’t list their prices on comparison services.
Check your policy
Be sure to read the policy wording and key facts documents – otherwise, you won’t know whether you’re getting the correct car insurance cover. If you decide to renew with the same insurer, be certain to ask whether the terms and conditions have changed since last year.