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Cheap Car Insurance

Compare quotes, cashback & deals

The cost of car insurance has increased in the past six months with further hikes expected throughout 2015, making it more difficult to find the right cover at the right price.

This guide explains the basics of car insurance, what to watch out for and reveals how you can slash the cost of cover in six easy steps. If you are under 25 check our Young Driver's Insurance guide for more.

Car insurance: The basics

At its most simple, car insurance covers you if your car is stolen or involved in a road accident. It also protects other road users if you cause damage to their vehicle and other property.

The cost of insurance - your premium - is based on how much of a risk insurers perceive you to be. For example, if you are a youngster ready to hit the highway after just passing your test, or you have had more than a prang or two, you will pay more for your cover.

However, if you can prove you are not a risk by keeping accident-free and storing your car safely, you will pay much less.

How does car insurance work?

Excesses: What are they and how do they impact claims?

Third party, 'third party, fire and theft' and comprehensive: What is the difference?

Other vehicles: Does my policy cover me to drive them and can other people drive my car?

No-claims discounts: What are they and do they need to be protected?

Going abroad: What if I want to use my car overseas?

Buying car insurance

Applying for a quote: How honest do I have to be?

Got a car but hardly drive it: Do I still need insurance?

Mileage: What impact does it have on my insurance?

Accidents: Do I need to tell my insurer if I have a prang but don't claim?

Change in circumstances: Do I need to notify my insurer?

Young drivers: I'm under 25, is there a way I can cut my insurance premiums?


Now you know the basics of car insurance, follow our step-by-step guide to slashing the cost of your premium, starting with 10 car cover need-to-knows.

10 ways to cut car insurance costs

Did you know the average driver faces an annual insurance premium of £540, with drivers under the age of 25 paying more than £1,000 for their cover? Here are our top ten car insurance cost-cutting tips that can save you £100s.

News flash: The cost of insurance could rise 10% in the next year

Following a long period of rate reductions, the cost of car insurance is starting to increase according to the AA. It's latest index shows they're up 0.2% in the past three months and 1.4% in the past six months. With fraud increasing, it expects a rise of 5-8% in the next year, while others in the market believe a 10% increase is possible.

Check if you can grab a deal while rates are still low. Unless you've claimed, you can usually cancel and get a refund for the rest of the year. You may have to pay a cancellation fee of up to £50 and not earn no-claims for the year. Whether it is worth it depends on how near your renewal date is..

How close to renewal are you?

I am about to renew.

I am within two months of renewal.

I am more than two months away from renewal.

Don't assume third party is the cheapest

You might expect third party cover to be cheapest, but some insurers believe that people who choose third party cover are more of a risk and will price accordingly. Check both third party and comprehensive cover to make sure you are getting the best deal.

My auto renew quote was £210 for 3rd party only. I went to a comparison site and got comprehensive breakdown cover & free car hire with the same company for £40 less. Forumite DobbieSloan

Should I get third party or comprehensive cover?

Add a responsible second driver

Adding a second driver to your policy, even if they won't use the car often, can smooth out the average risk and may reduce the premium. Those with a good driving record are likely to help make bigger savings, but anyone who's a lower risk can help.

As a young new driver my insurer wanted £5,000 but after adding mum and dad it dropped to £1,900. @Faevouritexox

Took your advice and added my mum to my car insurance and saved £500 #mumstheword.@mazzyb5


Beware
- At no point should you add your name as the main driver on someone else's car, such as one of your children, instead of them. This is known in the industry as 'fronting' and is fraud. When you come to claim, this will be checked out and your insurance will be invalidated. It can lead to prosecution, so don't do it.

Tweak your job description

Another quick win is tweaking your job description. To help, we've built a fun Car Insurance Job Picker tool to show the riskiest jobs and see if small changes to your job description could save you cash. Remember, never lie as this will be considered fraudulent. If it worked for you, share your success stories with our forum users.

Thank you @MartinSLewis after rewording my job occupation on car insurance I have managed to save £400. @JenStaCreations

I did this too thanks to @MartinSLewis from creative director to marketing manager = saved £300+ Crazy world isn't it? @fabsternation

What if I am unemployed?

Beware paying monthly

A monthly payment plan for your insurance is essentially a high-interest loan. For example, if your premium is £1,000 but you are paying an APR of 25%, your insurance will actually cost £1,140 once you factor in the interest. So either pay in full, or if you can't afford it, use a credit card with a lower APR rate (or better still, a 0% credit card for spending, ensuring your repayments are big enough to clear it within a year).

If paying by credit card, check if the insurer or provider charges a fee for doing so - though the fee is usually less than the interest charged on monthly instalments.

Find the APRs of the big insurers
Insurer APR if you pay monthly Insurer APR if you pay monthly
Asda
14.5%
Hastings Direct 29.9%
Aviva 36.9% John Lewis 23.5%
Axa 29.06% M&S 9.9%
Churchill 24.1% Privilege 29.4%
Co-operative 18.5% Prudential 24.1%
Endsleigh
39.7%
RAC 29.9%
First Direct
0%
Sainsbury's 24.1%
Correct at Jan 2015

Never auto-renew. Loyalty is expensive

Nothing better illustrates car insurers preying on loyal customers than Sarah Cooper's tweet. "My car insurance renewal is £1,200. New policy with same company is £690. How do they justify this?" They don't. They just do it.

Insurers charge increasing amounts each year, knowing inertia will stop policyholders switching. If your renewal is coming up, jot it in your diary to remember it. Compare comparison sites and then call your insurer to see if they can match, or even beat, the best quote you found. If they can, you're quids in.

I hadn't had any accidents or incidents yet my renewal went up almost £200. I left and went elsewhere for £70 less plus £60 cashback.Forumite Zipman23

My auto-renew price for two vehicles including a 21-year-old named driver son on smaller vehicle was £1,024. I followed the advice given in the guide to get a better deal with Direct Line for £590. Forumite Rawhide

Quick Questions:

What will insurers charge me to stay?

How can I haggle?

Don't pimp your ride. Lock it down

For those over the age of 50, 'pimping your ride' involves decking it out with fancy alloys, windows and spoilers. The more changes you make to your car, barring security ones, the more you'll be charged. Always tell your insurer about any modifications and whether you made them or not, or it may invalidate your policy.

Even more savings are there for the taking if you can protect your vehicle by securing it. Fitting an alarm or immobiliser (especially one approved by Thatcham) will reduce the bill substantially.

What counts as a modification?

Only buy add-ons if you know their value

Often when you buy your cover an insurer will try to sell you additional products such as windscreen cover or breakdown. Avoid buying add-ons if you are not clear what they do or what their terms are. If you are interested, check out the cost of the cover individually first.

Many insurers make a large mark-up by selling add-ons at higher rates than you can get elsewhere. Also, some of these covers may already be included in your policy so read all the terms carefully.

What are the typical add-ons?

Set the right excess without breaking the bank

It's worth considering going for a policy with a higher excess. A higher excess will result in lower premiums but make sure you can afford the premium in the event you need to claim. Many people will find claiming for less than £500 of damage both increases the future cost of insurance and can invalidate no-claims bonuses, meaning it's not always worth making a claim.

So why pay extra for a lower excess? A few insurers will substantially reduce premiums for a £1,000 excess, so try this when getting quotes. The downside of this is if you have a bigger claim you'll have to shell out more, so take this into account.

Lock in quotes early

Some insurers will hold the price of a quote for up to 60 days. This means that if you obtain a quote two months before your renewal is due, you've locked in the price to beat any possible future premium increases.

Remember, the prices are fixed subject to you not changing any of your details. Set up a Tart Alert to remind you when it's going to expire.

Which insurers allow me to lock in my price early?

Remember next year

Providing you drive well and don't have any accidents, your insurance premium should get cheaper after the first year. However, don't automatically stick with the same provider.

Apply for cover from your existing insurer as a new customer and it's likely you'll be given a cheaper price.

Will my insurer remind me when it's time to renew?

Step 1: The top comparison sites

Once you know the basics from our top 10 tips for cutting costs, it is time to visit the comparison site to get quotes.

There is no one comparison site which, used on its own, will always save consumers the most money. As no single site captures the entire market, combining a number of sites is the best way to make a really meaningful saving.

Comparison sites zip your details to a number of insurers' and brokers' websites to find the cheapest quotes. They don't all compare the same sites, so it is best to combine them. We've analysed the comparison sites to find the ones that produce the cheapest quotes.

We've also conducted separate research to see if quotes from comparisons match up to the prices on insurers' own websites, how easy it is to use the sites, and the speed at which the sites deliver results. (See how the order is picked.)

The order below is for typical drivers, see the tabs below if the combination of comparison sites is unable to save you £100s.

Comparison sites: Should I be worried about the security of my data?


Typical driver

Gets a cheap quote 72% of the time (in our sample)

MoneySupermarket*

MoneySupermarket
  • Price for add-ons clearly displayed? Yes
  • Prices match insurer's site more than 80% of the time
  • Received marketing calls when we asked for none? Yes
  • Excesses match what was asked for? No
  • Tick-box for marketing calls? Opt-out

Increases chances of a cheap quote from sample to 83%

Confused*

Confused
  • Price for add-ons clearly displayed? Yes
  • Received marketing calls when we asked for none? No
  • Prices match insurer's site more than 80% of the time
  • Excesses match what was asked for? No
  • Tick-box for marketing calls? Opt-out

Increases chances of a cheap quote from sample to 89%

GoCompare*

GoCompare
  • Received marketing calls when we asked for none? No
  • Prices match insurer's site more than 90% of the time
  • Price for add-ons clearly displayed? No
  • Excesses match what was asked for? No
  • Tick-box for marketing calls? Opt-out

Typical driver insurance

No single site captures the entire market, so combining a number of sites is the best way to make a really meaningful saving. Try them one by one or open all typical driver insurance top picks (disable pop-up blocker first) to fill them in at the same time.

Gets a cheap quote 72% of the time (in our sample)

MoneySupermarket*

MoneySupermarket
  • Price for add-ons clearly displayed? Yes
  • Prices match insurer's site more than 80% of the time
  • Received marketing calls when we asked for none? Yes
  • Excesses match what was asked for? No
  • Tick-box for marketing calls? Opt-out

Increases chances of a cheap quote from sample to 83%

Confused*

Confused
  • Price for add-ons clearly displayed? Yes
  • Received marketing calls when we asked for none? No
  • Prices match insurer's site more than 80% of the time
  • Excesses match what was asked for? No
  • Tick-box for marketing calls? Opt-out

Temporary car insurance

Borrowing a friend's car for the weekend or need to hire a vehicle to move house? It's possible to get temporary insurance for one to 28 days.

Most insurers will cover drivers between the ages of 18 and 75 but some set the minimum age at 21. You may also find it difficult to find cover if you have many points on your licence or a long history of claims.

Insure Daily*, Tempcover.com*, Confused.com* and the RAC offer policies.

Gets a cheap quote 72% of the time (in our sample)

MoneySupermarket*

MoneySupermarket
  • Price for add-ons clearly displayed? Yes
  • Prices match insurer's site more than 80% of the time
  • Received marketing calls when we asked for none? Yes
  • Excesses match what was asked for? No
  • Tick-box for marketing calls? Opt-out

Increases chances of a cheap quote from sample to 83%

Confused*

Confused
  • Price for add-ons clearly displayed? Yes
  • Received marketing calls when we asked for none? No
  • Prices match insurer's site more than 80% of the time
  • Excesses match what was asked for? No
  • Tick-box for marketing calls? Opt-out

Increases chances of a cheap quote from sample to 89%

GoCompare*

GoCompare
  • Received marketing calls when we asked for none? No
  • Prices match insurer's site more than 90% of the time
  • Price for add-ons clearly displayed? No
  • Excesses match what was asked for? No
  • Tick-box for marketing calls? Opt-out

Boost chances to nearly 100%

Try to really nail down all the quotes

If you still haven't found a deal you're happy with, or want to push the envelope, there are some more options to try.

Try these comparison sites if you have time - each takes around 5-10 minutes: Google*, QuoteZone*.

Multiple car insurance

First check comparison sites for each car individually to find out the separate rates. Then try the insurers below that offer you discounts for insuring multiple cars with them. Remember, a multi-car insurer is not always the cheapest so try both before you buy.

Sometimes it works! "Admiral offered us a multi-car policy and our insurance dropped to £500." Forumite BoredwithbeingIgnored.

...and sometimes it doesnt! "We managed to save over £200 this year. Renewal quote from Admiral for 2 cars = £575. Privilege 1 car = £190, M&S 1 car = £160, Total = £350" Forumite thrifteemee

No single site captures the entire market, so combining a number of sites is the best way to make a really meaningful saving. Try them one by one or open all multiple car insurance top picks (disable pop-up blocker first) to fill them in at the same time.

Gets a cheap quote 72% of the time (in our sample)

MoneySupermarket*

MoneySupermarket
  • Price for add-ons clearly displayed? Yes
  • Prices match insurer's site more than 80% of the time
  • Received marketing calls when we asked for none? Yes
  • Excesses match what was asked for? No
  • Tick-box for marketing calls? Opt-out

Increases chances of a cheap quote from sample to 83%

Confused*

Confused
  • Price for add-ons clearly displayed? Yes
  • Received marketing calls when we asked for none? No
  • Prices match insurer's site more than 80% of the time
  • Excesses match what was asked for? No
  • Tick-box for marketing calls? Opt-out

Add the total up and then try the following insurers that give you a discount for taking out multiple policies.

Get up to 25% discount

Admiral MultiCar insurance*

Admiral

With Admiral* MultiCar, you buy one policy and it covers up to five different cars.

Usually, all the cars need to be registered at the same address though exceptions can apply (such as students who live away). The discount increases depending on how many cars you want cover for, ranging from 12% for two cars to 25% for five cars.

Churchill*, Direct Line* and Privilege* also offer muti-car discounts and are worth adding to your list to try.

Company car insurance

Comparison sites always assume you own the car you're trying to insure. However, many people drive a car owned by their employer, but have to insure and tax it themselves.

This means comparison sites, while useful for benchmarking, don't do the trick. First, try a couple of specialists, then see how prices from the comparisons stack up.

Online quotes for company-owned cars

LV*

LV

The only insurer we could find which gives quotes online for vehicles owned by companies is LV*.

Go through the quote process and it'll ask who owns the car. Then the quote you get will be based on this. This by no means translates to LV being the cheapest choice - but it's very useful to get an idea of what you should be paying.

Specialist brokers and insurers: Time for phone-based legwork

This is a good time to look to the old-fashioned, pre-online comparison route - insurance brokers. They can only look at a smaller range of insurers, but they can also dig into the detail, and tell you if a policy covers company cars.

It's worth phoning up as many of the following as you can. It's free to talk them but they're paid via commission. Try Adrian Flux, Alan Boswell, Arthur J. Gallagher, Endsleigh*, Swinton and Footman James.

To further hone the price you can, hit the phone again and talk to these insurers: AA*, Admiral*, Churchill*, Diamond and Direct Line*.

Combine comparison sites

Remember, comparisons don't all compare the same sites, so the best strategy's to combine them. We've analysed them, using a large range of monthly data, primarily focused on which ones produce the cheapest results.

We also factored in separate research on the accuracy and quality of the comparisons. (See how the order is picked.)

No single site captures the entire market, so combining a number of sites is the best way to make a really meaningful saving. Try them one by one or open all company car insurance top picks (disable pop-up blocker first) to fill them in at the same time.

Gets a cheap quote 72% of the time (in our sample)

MoneySupermarket*

MoneySupermarket
  • Price for add-ons clearly displayed? Yes
  • Prices match insurer's site more than 80% of the time
  • Received marketing calls when we asked for none? Yes
  • Excesses match what was asked for? No
  • Tick-box for marketing calls? Opt-out

Increases chances of a cheap quote from sample to 83%

Confused*

Confused
  • Price for add-ons clearly displayed? Yes
  • Received marketing calls when we asked for none? No
  • Prices match insurer's site more than 80% of the time
  • Excesses match what was asked for? No
  • Tick-box for marketing calls? Opt-out

I'm struggling to get cover

If you have a number of points on your licence or you have made many claims before you may find it hard to get cover.

If you've been caught once for an offence such as speeding, it's likely you'll have three penalty points on your driving licence. However, one strike doesn't change your risk profile. It's when you reach four points or more that you should change the way you act.

First click on 'typical driver' and compare the comparison sites listed. If you think you can find cover cheaper elsewhere consider enlisting the help of a broker (search on the British Insurance Brokers' Association website to find someone local).

If you have claimed in the past and this is affecting your premiums, consider protecting your no-claims discount (see should I protect my no-claims discount? for more).

You may even be able to fast-track your no-claims bonus. The Admiral* Bonus Accelerator policy gives you one year's no-claims bonus after just 10 months of being insured. This can speed up how quickly you hit the big discount territory.

However, always choose based on the price you pay now. Factoring in a slightly higher premium today for a reduced one in future is fine - but don't pay way over the odds, as the benefits in years ahead aren't guaranteed.

Even if you don't claim to keep your no-claims discount, the price of a policy can rise simply because you may be assessed as a higher risk in the future.

Consider telematics

Despite some confusion, telematics is not an 1980s games show hosted by Noel Edmonds (that was Telly Addicts!). Telematics prices your premiums dep ending on how you drive.

A device inside your car monitors your actions behind the wheel. So the better youíre driving, the less you pay for cover. Remember, telematics policies have more aliases than a rap group. If you're looking at 'black box', 'smart box', 'pay-as-you-drive' or 'usage-based' insurance then you're looking at a telematics policy.

It works! Forumite vic.star says: "I'm with Insure The Box - a telematics insurer. I paid £980 for my first year (I was 21 when I took out the policy) compared to the cheapest on comparison sites of £1,400!"

The black box feeds data back to your insurer, which takes this into account to reward you. If you can prove you're more Driving Miss Daisy than Fast & Furious you can get money back on your premiums, high street shopping vouchers or better prices at renewal. Full info

Step 2: The ones comparisons miss

Comparison sites let you compare 100s of insurers in quick time but they don't capture the entire market.

Some insurers do not appear on comparison sites at all and some deals - including multi-car discounts - are only available by going directly to an insurer's website.

The insurers not on comparison sites

Three of the biggest insurers on the market, Direct Line*, Aviva* and Zurich, are not on comparison sites, only offering their products directly. Benchmark your cheapest aggregator quotes against the premiums offered by the sites below to see if you can slash costs further.

  • Direct Line*. Get 10% off for every additional vehicle you add to your policy. Or, if you have any other Direct Line product, get 10% off with Direct Line Together*.

  • Aviva*. Grab 30% off online and an extra discount of up to a third by adding a second car or van to your policy.

  • Zurich. Get a courtesy car following an accident on standard policies, if you use one of its approved repairers

Hot deals comparisons miss

While comparison sites offer a large chunk of the deals available in the market, others are only available directly from insurers or brokers. If any of the providers below are among your cheapest on comparison sites, use the links below to buy instead and take advantage of special deals.

£50 Co-op food voucher with car insurance

Co-op Insurance

Sainsburys

Use this Co-operative Insurance* link to buy a car insurance policy by 31 March and recieve £50 in Co-op food vouchers. The vouchers will arrive within 90 days of your policy start date. The deal is for new customers only. Read more to ENSURE you get the voucher?

Free Green Flag breakdown cover

Sainsbury's Bank

Sainsburys

New customers who buy a Sainsbury's* motor policy will get Green Flag breakdown cover free for a year. Nectar cardholders will also get up to a third off their car inusrance and double Nectar points for two years on shopping and fuel.

Free RAC cover

Be Wiser

Bewiser

Insurance broker Be Wiser offers free RAC membership and Legal Expenses cover for policies bought via its website.

Multi-car deals are not available via comparison sites

Comparison sites do not currently offer multi-car discounts which can save you up to 25% by insuring more than one car on the same policy. If you have two or more cars in your household check the providers that offer discounts below.

Get up to 25% off

Admiral MultiCar*

Bewiser

Buy an Admiral MultiCar*, policy and you can cover up to five different cars for a discounted premium. The reduction depends on the number of vehicles on the policy, ranging from 12% for two cars to 25% for five cars.

Churchill*, Direct Line* and Privilege* also offer muti-car discounts and are worth adding to your list to try.

Step 3: Haggle

Haggling is not a must - especially if you want to try a new provider - but if you are looking to renew with your current insurer it is well worth getting on the phone to negotiate.

Once you've followed the steps above and got the overall cheapest price, get on the phone and haggle. If your insurer can beat or match your best quote it saves the hassle of switching policy. If that doesn't work and you're still in the mood, enlist the help of a broker.

"I just saved around £300 haggling with Admiral (prompted after the news article on MSE). And they were really friendly to boot." Forumite thrifteemee

For more haggling tips, read the full Haggle On The High Street guide together with 2013's Top 10 Firms To Haggle With.

Step 4: Get cashback

Once you know who your cheapest provider is, you need to check there aren't any hidden cashback deals, as these can be as high as £60.

If your second or third cheapest quotes weren't too much more expensive, see if cashback's available for them too, and find the overall winner.

It's important to be aware that the cashback is coming from the comparison site, not the insurer, so getting the cashback relies on its ability to pay.

Things you need to know before getting cashback...

Never count the cash as yours until it's in your bank account

Withdraw the cashback as soon as you're allowed

Clear your cookies

If you're new to cashback sites, make sure you read the Top Cashback Sites guide for pros and cons before using them. Otherwise, use the Cashback Sites Maximiser tool to find the highest payer for each insurer.

If cashback sites don't list your insurer, try using comparison site MoneyExpert, which pays £25 if you compare then get a policy via its site. The cashback must be claimed within 30 days after the policy starts.

The policyholder must claim it from MoneyExpert (not MoneySavingExpert) using its cashback claim form. This isn't available if you're in Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands. Read the full T&Cs within the 'How do I claim my cash back?' section as the process isn't that straightforward, nor is it without potential pitfalls.

If you have any problems getting the cashback, email carinsurance@moneyexpert.com or phone 0800 011 1395 (select option 2 for customer services).

Step 5: Check your policy

Always double check the policy terms. Once you've found the cheapest quotes make two important checks.

Double check the quotes. Click through to the insurance provider's own website to double check the quotes, as to speed up searches some comparison sites make a few assumptions (see what to check).

Examine the policy's coverage.
Check whether it's suitable. If you want free car hire if your car is being fixed, is it included? While you're there, it's worth playing with the policy details to see if you can lower the price further. Look at the excess, and whether adding drivers cuts the cost.

This tool from Find allows you to check two different policies, side by side.

So how much can you save?

Following the steps above often produces huge savings. Those who normally just accept their insurer's renewal regularly see £100s shaved off the cost. And significant numbers of MoneySavers report getting deals for under £100.

Barbara's story: 96p for a year's fully comprehensive cover

In October 2009, civil servant and grandmother Barbara Wakerell smashed the old £14 record for using this car insurance system (see MSE News: 96p car insurance).

Policy price: For Barbara, the cheapest was £120.96 from Swinton Insurance for a fully comprehensive policy, with protected no claims bonus, and including a courtesy car.
Insurer cashback: The company had its own £70 cashback promo on.
Cashback site: She then got a further £50 via using a cashback site.

All added together, that meant the total cost of the insurance was just 96p. She said:

I'm always looking for a bargain so when I found my car insurance for £120.96 I thought I was doing well. But when I also got £120 cashback I realised I had done really, really well. Can anyone beat that? Barbara Wakerell

Douglas's story: £26 for a year's car insurance

Welshman Douglas Evans explains how he cut his £280 per year car insurance premiums to just £26

Courtesy of Channel 5. Originally from It Pays To Watch!