How to find the best car insurance for you
Watch: Martin Lewis explains car insurance
- Never auto-renew. Insurers can’t charge existing customers more than new ones, but you can often still save by switching.
- Buy at the right time. The cheapest time to get car insurance is around 20 to 26 days before you want the policy to start.
- Not all car insurance savings are common sense. You can sometimes cut costs by adding an extra 'responsible' driver to your policy, reasonably tweaking your job title, or even by choosing a fully comprehensive policy.
Watch the video, read a transcript, or...
Why use MoneySavingExpert’s Car Insurance Compare+ tool?
With car insurance premiums on the increase, getting the best price is more important than ever. You should never simply auto-renew – your existing insurer might not offer you the best deal on the market.
Our Car Insurance Compare+ tool can help you get a cheaper car insurance quote. We’ll tell you the best time to search for quotes, show your cheapest quotes from one comparison site, and say whether it’s worth checking elsewhere – with unique tips along the way to help get your costs down even more.
What can affect my car insurance quote?
There are many factors that will impact how much you pay, including:
Your age – 25 and under, or 70 and over, and you’re likely to pay more.
Your job – some work is seen as more risky.
Your car – insurers will consider all sorts of things, including how powerful and valuable your car is, and whether it's a theft target.
Your address – urban areas can be more expensive, especially if you keep your car on the street.
Your driving history – which can include any claims and convictions, how much mileage you do and any no-claims bonus you have.
Car insurance FAQs
Some fully comprehensive policies will cover you to drive other vehicles (in addition to your own). But before jumping behind a different set of wheels, check with your insurer that you definitely have this extended cover. You might also be covered to drive hire cars too.
However, it's worth noting that even if your comprehensive cover allows you to drive other vehicles, this is usually only up to the level of third-party coverage – so no theft or fire damage cover is provided.
If you share a car (or someone else regularly uses your car), you can add other drivers to your policy – known as named drivers. Sometimes adding a named driver can even help to lower the cost of your own cover, especially if they are seen as 'responsible'.
A 'no-claims bonus' and 'no-claims discount' are two slightly different terms for the same thing. In essence, for every year that you go without making a claim, your insurer will usually give you a discount at renewal. That's because insurers like less-risky policyholders.
And the more years you go without making a claim, the larger the discount will be. For instance, an insurer may give you a 30-40% discount if you can go without claiming for the first year of your policy, and then give you an extra 10% discount if you're then claim-free in the second year.
You can often also pay to protect any no-claims discount you've built up – read more on how no-claims discounts work.
The more changes you make to your car, barring security ones, the more you're charged. Always tell your insurer about any modifications and whether you made them or not, or it may invalidate your policy (a modification is anything that isn't part of the standard vehicle specification, including factory-fitted optional extras such as alloy wheels).
The exception to this rule is if you've a classic car needing insurance – in this instance, insurers accept modifications as a natural part of classic car ownership and don't penalise you with higher premiums.
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.
If you're only after insurance for a less than a day, a week or few months, then a temporary car insurance policy is worth considering. The idea is this will work out cheaper than taking out an annual policy and cancelling it, where you'd usually pay admin fees.
Using temporary car insurance is often a good option to ensure you are covered while borrowing someone else's car, as you don't need to amend the car owner's existing policy, and, if something were to happen, you wouldn't impact their no-claims discount.
Read more on temporary car insurance.
A telematics policy prices your premiums depending on how you drive. A device – known as a 'black box' – is installed in your car to monitor your actions behind the wheel – so the better your driving, the less you pay for cover. Telematics insurance can be one way to help bring down the insurance costs for younger drivers.
If you are confident that you can drive well you can earn £100s back on your cover via a telematics policy. But be warned: driving badly could also see your premiums increase.
Be careful when deciding your excess. The larger the excess, the cheaper the premium usually is, but a large excess may leave you out of pocket if you need to claim.
The excess is the amount you pay towards any claims you make. Say your excess is £250 and you have an accident that causes £1,000 worth of damage to your vehicle, you pay £250 and the insurer stumps up the rest.
A few insurers will substantially reduce premiums for a £1,000 excess, so try this when getting quotes. The downside is having to shell out this amount in the event of a claim.
Insurers use this information to help them calculate your premium. The less you drive, the cheaper your insurance, so while you always need to give a genuine estimate to avoid committing fraud, it makes it doubly important not to overestimate as you'll also end up overpaying.
The best method is to look at how much you've driven in the past using accurate data, and if your driving habits haven't changed, put the same figures down. If they have, change the figure accordingly. The easiest ways to find out your history is by looking back at old MOT certificates or service documents where your mileage would have been recorded – just compare one year with the next for how far you've driven.
Car Insurance Guides
Want more information? Take a look at our car insurance guides below
The cost of car insurance is now at its highest since records began in 2012. And with no sign…
Hello, I’m Martin Lewis and this is your mini briefing on getting car insurance. First thing to understand is if you own a car or you’re the registered keeper, you need insurance even if you don’t drive it. Those are the rules. They changed ooh five, six, seven, eight years ago. I should have double checked that before I started. But that’s how it works now anyway. And so you’ve got to get yourself insurance. If not, your would need to get yourself a SORN, a Statutory Off Road Notification. That’s the only way to avoid it.
First big rule when it comes to getting car insurance is never auto-renew. Each year your firm will send you through a renewal. They use the fact that you must have car insurance in place if you own a car to say, you know, this is the day it runs out and you legally have to have it in place the next day. Well, stop that. As soon as you get that renewal, or even better, put a note in your diary beforehand. You should be checking if it’s possible to get cheaper car insurance elsewhere. If it is, you might want to switch or you might want to go back to your original insurer and say: Hey, my renewal quote with you is 600 quid. I can get an identical policy for 400 quid elsewhere. I’d like to stay with you, please will you cut your price? And that haggling does work.
When it comes to finding the cheapest price. Well, we’ve got a MoneySavingExpert tool that helps you do it. It’s called our Car Insurance Compare+ tool. And all of the tips I’m going to give you are automated and made much easier to do inside of that tool. But let me give you a briefing of the type of things you need to be thinking about when it comes to getting car insurance.
The first one, for most people, the best thing to do is combine comparison sites. Now they’re called comparison sites, but in truth, they are actually car insurance marketplaces because they’re allowed to give you their own prices for different insurers, as long as that’s not more expensive than going direct. So the same insurance company could have a different price on two different comparison sites, plus the fact they don’t all search the same car insurers. So we always suggest trying two or three if you’re really trying to nail the price down and then add in those firms that aren’t on comparison sites, the specific one being Direct Line, there might also be some deals out there too, that could benefit you when it comes to the timing of getting your comparison done. Our research shows that 21 to 28 days beforehand is usually the uber spot. Prices get cheaper as you get down to 28 to 21 days and then afterwards they go up because insurance is all about risk pricing. And the actuarial risk charts say those who leave it later are a higher risk. So insurance price them higher. You could pay getting on for 50% or more, more if you renew on the day your insurance lapses rather than doing it 21 to 28 days beforehand.
Next quick tip is not all car insurance savings are common sense. Some of them are counter logical. I’ve got three for you. The first is that adding a second driver could reduce rather than increase the price. This is because insurance is all about risk. And so if you add a second driver who is a lower risk, that can bring down your average risk and therefore cut the cost. The classic time this will work is if you’ve got a younger driver, say, a 23 year old who adds a second driver, likely their parent, who’s got a long-term good, clean, sensible driving record. And it can bring down the average risk and bring down the price. It doesn’t always work. It’s a matter of trial and error.
So is changing your job title. Now never lie. You can only call yourself something that a reasonable person would say is reasonable for your job.
But it may be that a secretary and PA, one may be cheaper than the other. A bar staff or bar worker. One may be cheaper than the other. Small nuances can make a difference. And we’ve got a tool that helps you through that.
And finally, don’t assume that fully comprehensive insurance will be more expensive. You get more cover with it. But again, we go back to those risk charts. That fact that you select fully comprehensive actually for some insurers show that you may well be a lower risk. And the amount it brings the risk down can more than compensate for the fact that they’re giving you bigger cover. So if you’re looking to get the very cheapest insurance, don’t just look at third party. Also get some quotes for fully comp too, just in case you’re the one of the people for whom that’s cheaper.
My final thoughts. Once you’ve found your cheapest insurer, you can always go and check whether you can get cashback for it on a cashback website. But do make sure you’re not going to pay more for the policy if you do that. And always check through every element of the policy to be sure you’re happy with it before you sign up. There are lots of different bits to car insurance policies and you need to check it’s right for you. Remember, car insurance is regulated. If you have a problem, even if they’re rejecting your claim and you think that’s unfair, make a formal complaint. And if they still turn you down, you have a right to go to the free Independent Financial Ombudsman Service, where it will adjudicate whether you’re being treated fairly or not. Hope that helps loads more info on the car insurance guide. And in the Car Insurance Compare+ tool.