Young drivers insurance guide

Young drivers' insurance

Tips, discounts, cashback & more

Insurers are now banned from charging renewing customers more than newbies. Yet never assume your renewal is the best deal – many can still save by comparing and switching. Use our tried and tested system to bag a cheap car insurance deal. Aged 25 or over? Head over to our main Car Insurance guide.

1-min read on finding cheap young drivers car insurance

Many can save £100s by switching car insurance policy. Here's a quick lowdown if you know what you're doing and just want to find a cheap policy – alternatively, if you need a bit more help, you can read our full guide below:  

1. NEVER just auto-renew – instead combine comparisons to scour 100s of insurers in mins. Comparison sites don't search identical insurers, nor give identical prices, so try as many as you've time for in this order: Confused.com*Compare The Market*MoneySupermarket* and Gocompare* (see how we rank 'em).

2. Compare against a quote from Direct Line. Biggie Direct Line* doesn't appear on comparison sites and can be competitive, so is often worth checking. 

3. Then check to see if cashback sites can beat the quotes you got above. Topcashback* gives £42 when you buy through its comparison, and Quidco* £35. But it's also worth checking if you can then up that amount by going direct to the insurer through Topcashback* and Quidco's* normal sites – here you can sometimes get up to £80 per policy. 

4. See if these counter-logical savings work for you. It's worth checking if choosing comprehensive over third party, adding a responsible (often older) extra driver or tweaking your job title can save you cash.

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10 ways to cut young drivers' car insurance costs

Here are our top car insurance cost-cutting tips for young drivers that can save you £100s.

  • There are three different types of car insurance: third party only, third party fire and theft, and fully comprehensive.

    Logically, third party insurance should be cheapest for young drivers as it offers a lesser level of cover than fully comp, yet this isn't always the case.

    The rationale is that insurers think people who choose third-party insurance are more of a risk. In one low-risk young driver quote, we found an annual £1,500 saving for having comprehensive cover over a third-party only policy.

  • Adding a second driver should push the cost up, yet bizarrely it can cut your costs. We tried adding a 40-year-old family member as an 'occasional' user (not a main driver) to an 18-year-old's policy which cut the premium by around £1,000. These seven tips show how it can cut your costs...

    • Car insurance is all about risk. That's why it can work, if you're a high-risk driver and you add someone who is a much lower risk as a 2nd (and/or 3rd) driver, they can bring down the average risk and you may get a cheaper policy.

    • This isn't just for young drivers. While it works well for young drivers as they are automatically seen as a high risk and know many people, like their parents, who may be lower risk it can work for anyone – but of course is especially powerful for those with costlier insurance.

    • The better the driving history and lower their risk, the more impact it should have.Those with a good driving record are likely to help make the most savings, but anyone who's a lower risk can help. By law insurers can't discriminate over gender, but age, driving experience and history can make a difference.

    • This is about trial and error not logic. Your mum may increase the cost, your brother may cut it, or vice versa. It's just a question of trying different quotes and seeing what happens.

    • Different insurers respond in different ways: One may cut your costs adding your uncle, another may increase it. Therefore a quick way to check is by varying quotes on comparison sites – it's easy to do, see our top comparison sites list below.

    • The second driver should be someone who would reasonably drive your car. So don't add Lewis Hamilton, unless you happen to be his brother (and even then racing drivers are likely a very high risk so I wouldn't bother) – but your mum, son, best mate or gran should be OK – as long as they would drive the car.

    • Never add someone as main driver if they're not. This is known in the industry as 'fronting' and is fraud. If you do it and are caught you can face a criminal conviction and your insurance will likely be invalid.

  • We first looked at this back in 2018, when we revealed 21 days ahead was the cheapest time to get car insurance quotes. We've now done this research for the third time, and it's revealed that the cheapest time to get  car insurance quotes is 23 days ahead of your renewal date (though any time between 19 and 25 days ahead doesn't change the price by much).

    To get to this 23 days, we analysed over 70 million quotes (from between February 2020 and February 2021) from the four biggest price comparison sites – Gocompare, Compare The Market, Confused.com and MoneySupermarket.

    Our analysis showed a policy costs an average of £1,198 a year on renewal day, but 23 days earlier the average is just £694 a year – a MASSIVE £504 difference.

    In general, the closer to your renewal date you get quotes, the more of a risk you're deemed to be (we've heard that it can show insurers you're a bit disorganised). Yet, getting quotes too early, eg 28+ days out can also push the average price up - likely as fewer insurers will provide quotes that far out.

    So, if you're already within the 19-25 day period, get quotes now as the price tends to steadily increase closer to the start date of the policy. If you're closer to your renewal date, every day helps, so get quotes ASAP.

    We've full info on how to bag the cheapest policy in this guide – see our comparison sites order below.

  • Whether or not you're a young driver, insurance premiums (the payments made to insurance companies) depend on three things:

    insurance premium factors

    Car insurance rates are set by actuaries, whose job is to calculate risk. You can make big savings by showing an insurer you're not the typical high-risk young driver.

    Each insurer's price depends on two things: the underwriters' assessment of your particular situation, and the pricing model that dictates the type of customers the insurer wants to attract.

    • The combination of popularity, engine size and value all have an impact on car insurance cost. It's worth considering this when you buy; insuring a super-powerful beast of an SUV for a 17-year-old would cost enough to make Bill Gates weep

    • Any extra security will help. Fitting an alarm or immobiliser (especially one approved by Thatcham) can reduce the bill.

    • Sexy it might be, MoneySaving it ain't. The more changes you make to your car, barring security ones, the more you'll be charged.

      Always make sure you inform your insurer of any modifications to your car, 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.

    • Theft and accidental damage add a wedge to insurance costs. If you leave your car in a garage or driveway, it's a big deterrent to theft and means accidental damage is less likely.

      If you have points on your licence, the cost will be higher. While speeding points remain on your licence for four years, insurers usually check for convictions during the last five.

      One speeding conviction can affect the price of cover by over 30% and a CU30 (using a vehicle with defective tyres) by more than 60%.

      Being caught using a mobile phone is also a serious issue, it can double your quote and also give you three points on your licence, which stay on for four years. Approved hands-free kits are fine if used properly.

    • The less you drive, the cheaper your insurance can be. Where possible, try to reduce your mileage. This may sound trite, but actually the real key is incorporating the extra insurance cost when you make long journeys, not just the cost of petrol compared to taking the bus or train (also read the Cheap Trains guide).

      Anecdotally, though many simply get a quote for 10,000 miles per year, MoneySavers have reported that 5,000 is the best figure to use – though we haven't tested this. If you drive your vehicle on business, always declare this rather than just including the business miles as personal, or the policy may be void.

    • PassPlus: This Driving Standards Agency course is aimed at helping new drivers (who have passed their test within 12 months) become more confident on the road. There are six modules: town driving, all-weather driving, driving on rural roads, night driving, driving on dual carriage ways and driving on motorways.

      The course costs about £170 but this varies depending on where you live and the instructor or driving school you choose. Some local councils in England and Scotland offer discounts of up to 40%, which are usually for under-25s, while in Wales it only costs £20. See Gov.uk for more details.

      Once you have the certificate some, although not many, insurers discount the price of your cover. Sadly it's become less and less recognised in the last few years, so the discounts aren't generally that high. There's a good chance you could get cheaper cover elsewhere.

      Drive iQThis course is provided by the AA and some independent driving schools – it's included within the cost of your lessons. It combines online learning with practical lessons for learner drivers.

      It covers attitudes and behaviour to driving, rather than just car control skills, and is based around five units which also include motorway and night driving. It says once you've passed, you're eligible for exclusive insurance deals. But check quotes with Drive iQ before you sign up, to see how it compares.

    • If you get a quote that's too good to be true, or you've never heard of the company trying to flog you cover, double-check it's not a 'ghost broker' selling you worthless insurance. Ghost brokers are fraudsters who pretend to sell you insurance, but pocket your cash instead.

  • Another quick win is tweaking your job description (legitimately of course). An illustrator is often cheaper than an artist, an editor than a journalist, a PA than a secretary.

    Have a play with our Car Insurance Job Picker tool 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 should I put if I'm unemployed?

    If you don't have a job, you face a potential fivefold jump in insurance costs by declaring you're unemployed. The same hikes don't apply to homemakers (house wives/house husbands). If that's you, say so to avoid a hike in costs.

    However, only enter homemaker if you're genuinely not seeking work or receiving benefits which require you to seek work. Otherwise, it's fraud.

  • If you haven't got 'normal' circumstances, eg, you've made a claim in the past few years, have a modified car or expect to drive 100,000s of miles a year, tell your insurer. If you don't and then try to claim, even for an unrelated issue, your policy may be invalid.

    You also need to tell your insurer about any changes as this reduces potential problems in the event of a claim, even if it's just your address. Trying to get insurance after you've had a policy cancelled is very difficult, very expensive and will follow you for the rest of your life.

    A change in circumstances includes moving jobs, as insurers believe this can affect your risk. Scandalously, the unemployed often (though not always) pay higher rates for their car insurance – so tell your provider if you're out of work.

    With insurance, remember – the golden rule is:

    Tell them the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    If you've read these tips and thought, "it's easy to lie about this", then of course, you're right. Yet lying on your insurance form is fraud. It can lead to your insurance being invalidated and, in the worst case, a criminal prosecution for driving without insurance.

  • 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.

  • If you have more than one car in your immediate family or household, this could be for you. For some, discounts for adding multiple cars could save £100s, or even £1,000s in some cases, but for others it could actually be more expensive. 

    To help, our dedicated Multicar Insurance guide explains when to get a multicar policy, how they work and how to get one - even if you have different start dates for each car.

  • Telematics is a policy which prices your premiums depending on how you drive. A device – known as a black box – installed in your car monitors your actions behind the wheel so the better your driving, the less you pay for cover.

    If you are confident that you can drive well you can earn £100s back on your cover via a telematics policy. Be warned, however, that driving badly could also see your premiums increase.

  • It's worth thinking about going for a policy with a higher excess – the amount of any claim you need to pay yourself. 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 find that 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.

    If the thought of a high excess worries you, an excess protection* policy is available – this allows you to claim the excess sum back. But make sure the insurer's discount exceeds the cost of this excess policy to make it worthwhile.

    It is also worth noting that with this policy, you are not covered within the first 30 days of taking out the contract. You'll still need to pay the excess, and wait for reimbursement.

How to find the cheapest car insurance

Once you know the basics from our top 10 tips for cutting costs, it's time to follow the steps below.

Warning: No matter how tempted you are to say someone else is the main driver, or to pretend you have no points, or to deliberately underestimate your mileage to get a cheaper premium – don't. You must be completely honest or it could invalidate your insurance and even lead to prosecution. 

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Step 1: Get quotes from multiple comparison sites

Firstly, visit the comparison sites as these zip your details off to a number of insurers' and brokers' websites to find the cheapest quotes. As no single site captures the entire market and prices vary, combining a number of sites is the best way to make a saving. It's best to use all four, but if you don't have time, we've ranked them in order of the sites that most often return the cheapest quotes so you've the best chance of bagging the top deal.

Do note that comparison sites use a soft search of your credit file to return quotes, though this has no impact on your ability to get credit in future.

Try comparison sites in this order

Site Official perk info & MSE's analysis
Try as many as you can, in this order...

Confused.com*
Official perk info: ONE out of a... £20 Halfords voucher | £20 Domino's voucher | £20 Lidl Plus coupon | 12 IMO 'triple foam' car washes.

MSE perk analysis: The highest value is the car washes, if you'd use them all, as they can cost £5 each elsewhere so it's worth £60. See our full Confused perk analysis.

Compare The Market*

Official perk info: Meerkat Movies and Meals. A year's 2for1 on cinema tickets and meals on selected days of the week.

 

MSE perk analysis: For those who'd use it, and go to the flicks and restaurants, this perk can be worth £100s. However, instead you could grab other perks as you can use our trick to get Meerkat Movies and Meals for £1 for a year.

See our full Compare The Market perk analysis.



MoneySupermarket*
Official perk info: Combination of up to £150 of car repair and servicing vouchers, for example, £30 off MOTs, £5 off wheel alignment work.

MSE perk analysis: Likely better for older cars that need more work. We analysed the value of these vouchers compared with getting work done with alternative garages and found they would be worth up to £70/year (though this may vary depending on prices at your local garage). 
See our full MoneySupermarket perk analysis.
Gocompare*
Official perk info: £250 'free' excess cover.

MSE perk analysis: Gives good peace of mind, but few will use the free excess in any given year. We value it at roughly £35 a year as that's a typical cost to buy a similar amount of excess cover. See our full 
Gocompare perk analysis.
Then, to boost chances of finding a cheap quote further, try...
Quotezone* – it's another comparison site, and may have cheaper quotes.
Direct Line* – an insurer, rather than a comparison, but you won't find its quotes on any comparisons, so it's worth trying in case it's cheaper for you.

Struggling to find (affordable) cover?

If you've had a string of claims or accidents, you have a medical condition that affects your driving, or you've four or more points on your licence, you may find it hard to get an affordable quote from a comparison site. Some may find it hard to get cover at all.

If no or few insurers are quoting on the sites above, or premiums are coming back too high, consider enlisting the help of a broker. Search the British Insurance Brokers' Association website to find someone who can help.

  • 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).

  • Check whether it's suitable . If you want "free car hire" while your car is being fixed, is it included?

    Plus while you're there, it's worth playing with the policy details to see if you can finesse the price down. Look at the excess, and whether adding drivers cuts the cost.

Step 2: Try a specialist telematics policy

Once you've tried the comparison sites, it's time to check specialist young driver policies to see if they undercut them. If you are a careful driver who doesn't cover many miles and drives during off-peak hours, you could see a reduction in the premium.

Despite some confusion, Telematics is not an 1980s games show hosted by Noel Edmonds (that was Telly Addicts!). Telematics is a type of motor insurance policy which prices your premiums depending on how you drive.

telematics policies

A device inside your car monitors your actions behind the wheel. So the better you drive, the less you pay.

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.

The black box feeds data back to your insurer, which takes this into account to reward you, with money back on your premiums, if you can prove you're more Driving Miss Daisy and less Fast & Furious.

How do insurers judge your driving?

It's not just a case of keeping your hands at ten and two and shifting smoothly up the gears. Insurers will take the following into account.

  • The time of day or night you drive (11pm to 5am may cost more)
  • Your speed (stick to the limit)
  • Gentle braking reactions (hard and sharp stopping is not good)
  • Gentle acceleration and cornering is good (don't treat your local roads like Silverstone)

Telematics providers will charge you more if you speed or start cornering like Lewis Hamilton. In addition, you won't earn any rewards if you don't drive responsibly. With insurance so expensive, any money back on your cover should be an incentive in itself.

While your insurer will be following your driving closely, there are relatively few restrictions on when and where you drive.

Some insurers, such as Co-op*, will adjust your driving score when you drive between 10pm and 4am.

Specialist telematics providers to consider

Several providers offer black box products. Here we've listed a selection of the best around...

  • Drive Like A Girl. Another policy aimed at 17-25-year-olds is from Drive Like A Girl. It's not just for girls, it's open to boys too – but show you can "drive like a girl" and you could get money back. It's also open to all ages.

  • Insure The Box. With Insure The Box, you can pick either a 6,000, 8,000 or 10,000 mile-per-year policy for your premium, and then you can earn extra miles by driving safely – or buy more online if you need to during the year.

    Here, GPS or tracking devices monitor how you drive. Of course, even then, the price still depends on your personal risk profile.

  • Co-op. Motorists who get Co-op's* young driver insurance will have a box fitted to their cars to monitor their acceleration, speed, braking, cornering and what time they're driving. You can pay upfront for the year or by direct debit.

    The price of the insurance (and the amount of discount) can vary, depending on how well the car's been driven. The better you drive the more discount you're likely to get, and continued bad driving could see your insurance cancelled.

Quick question

  • Once you've sign up for a policy, you'll need to arrange a date for a black box to be fitted to your car. You don't typically have to pay an upfront cost for the box but the price of it will be incorporated within the premium. Some insurers will impose a fee if you miss a fitting appointment, need to move the box to another car or want it removed.

    And if you start tampering with it – thinking you can move it or trick it, and it breaks, expect a hefty bill for a replacement box.

learner driver insurance

Learner driver? You can get specialist policies

If you're a learner, it often means being added to parents' or friends' car insurance as an additional driver which can up the cost, and put no claims bonuses at risk.

However, it is possible to get specific policies just for the provisional driver which protect this, for example via Marmalade's Learner Driver* insurance.

Passed your test?

With Marmalade's New Driver* insurance you can get a specialist new driver policy bundled with low-risk new or nearly new cars on a two to five-year hire purchase or personal contract plan.

This can bring the insurance cost down dramatically, but obviously, you're buying a car at the same time. Do the numbers very carefully before signing up, though it can work out cheaper in the long run for some.

Marmalade's New Driver* car policies also include telematics devices. The cost savings for good drivers are built into your starting price (so if your driving is poor, the cost can increase).

Step 3: See if you can get cashback on top of the cheapest quote

If you use cashback sites, you'll know that if you get your car insurance via them they will get a 'lead fee' for sending you on to the insurer. Once they're paid the fee by the insurer, they then share it with you.

This can beat going to the comparison sites above, but do check your quote through a cashback site isn't more expensive – and it's best to think of the cashback as a bonus, rather than 100% guaranteed as sometimes the deal isn't tracked or the cash paid out. These are the two routes to try...

  • Route 1: Use cashback sites' own comparisons. There's a version of Confused.com's comparison on cashback sites Topcashback* and Quidco*, where you'll get £42 and £35 respectively if you buy a policy through them. (You don't get the standard Confused perks, as this is a rebranded version of the comparison.)

    Yet as we say above, do keep an eye on the quotes you get as you may not get exactly the same prices as you would from Confused's comparison. We did a sample in MSE Towers for car insurance and nine of 17 people got the same price from both cashback site comparisons as Confused, while three got it cheaper and five found it more costly via the cashback site comparisons.

    The easiest way to do it is to look at the quotes you get, then take off £42 from  Topcashback's cheapest (£35 from Quidco's cheapest), and see which works out cheapest for you.

  • Route 2: Find your cheapest insurer then go via a cashback site. Once you know your cheapest insurer, check what cashback you'll get going to it via Quidco* and Topcashback*

    But be careful not to let the cashback tail wag the dog. Choose the right insurer first, then look for cashback. Don't look for the biggest cashback then choose the insurer.

    Again, make sure you check the price you're getting through this route is the same as the prices you found from the comparisons you've already done. If it's more expensive, see if the cashback offsets the rise. If not, go with the quotes you got above.

Our Top cashback sites guide has full information on how these sites work.

Step 4: Once you've found the cheapest quote, try to haggle a bigger discount with your existing insurer

Haggling is not a must – especially if you want to try a new provider – but if you're looking to renew with your current insurer it's well worth contacting it to negotiate.

Once you've followed the steps above and got the overall cheapest price, give your insurer a call or use its online chat to see if will beat or match it. Usually it's as simple as asking, but if you're not getting any luck, see our Car and home insurance haggling guide for top tips.

Been with my insurer two years, just turned 22. Last year's price £690, price at renewal £575... while Tesco quoted £425.

Rang my insurer up, explained how I wanted to stay as I love their service. He quoted me a new price of £423, saving £152 and no changes. So happy that I rang. Thanks for the best tips everrr!


Ava, by email

For more haggling tips, read the full Car and Home Insurance Haggling guide.

Have you used this guide's techniques to save on your car insurance? If so, please feed back on the price you found in the Young Drivers' Insurance Savings forum discussion.

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How to complain about your insurance provider

The insurance industry doesn't have the best customer-service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include claims either not being paid out on time or at all, unfair charges, or exclusions being hidden in small print. It's always worth trying to call your provider first, but, if not, then…

Young drivers' car insurance Q&A

  • Unfortunately there are several reasons for this. Young drivers are less experienced than older road users, bringing them into a higher risk category with insurers. Less experienced drivers are more likely to have more accidents, and therefore put in more claims to their insurers – so insurance companies make their premiums more expensive to compensate.

    Yet by driving carefully you can help offset this and lower your premium – see above for more.

  • Beware 'pay monthly' options – usually the insurer just loans you the annual cost and then charges interest on top at hideous rates. As the average cost for a 20-24-year-old is over £900, paying by installments can easily add in excess of another £200 to your premium.

    So either pay in full, or if you can't afford it, try to borrow the money elsewhere more cheaply (ideally on 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 charge a fee for doing so – though the fee is usually less the monthly installments interest charge.

  • Yes – cars must be insured unless declared off-road. The Continuous Insurance Enforcement scheme means all cars must be insured – even if no one drives them. The aim's to crack down on two million uninsured drivers by matching up the database of cars and insured drivers.

    The only way out is to apply for a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) declaring your car will never be driven. Ensure you search for the new cheapest in advance of renewal, or you'll end up just auto-renewing to stop the fine.

  • If your insurance allows it, driving someone else's car instead of yours can be a way to cut mileage. Check your policy details carefully to find out if you can.

    If you have fully comprehensive insurance then often, although not always, it includes what's called "driving other cars" cover. This provides you with third party cover whilst reducing your mileage and therefore the cost of your own policy.

  • Generally, insurance is a lot cheaper for a moped or motorbike than for a car. Plus, some insurers may put any no claims bonus from bike insurance on your car insurance too if you later get your car insured with them. Yet do take safety into account as a new driver – if you're in an accident, you're better-protected if you're in a car. See the Bike Insurance guide for more.

  • Some schemes do offer an accelerated no-claims bonus. MSE's forumites have suggested if you've previously been insured as an additional driver on, for example, your parents' policy, call your insurer and ask if they'd be willing to take this into account for a no-claims bonus. Some insurers do this, including Direct Line*.

    See the Great Young Drivers Insurance Savings Hunt  discussion for more tips and tricks.

  • If you have an accident, and damage someone else's car, but decide to cover the costs yourself, then strictly speaking, you should still tell your insurer about it.

    Many don't, thinking it will increase premiums, yet a problem may arise if you have a second accident and it is found to be related to work undertaken for the first. If this happens it would most likely result in the claim not being paid, rather than the insurance being cancelled or being reported for fraud. But it could still end up costing you £1,000s.

  • Insurance providers regulated in the UK are covered by the same Government-backed Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) as banks, so if they go into default, you're protected.

    A number of insurers – particularly those who offer telematics pay-when-you-drive cover – are based in Gibraltar. However, a special FCA rule says these policies have the same protection as those from UK-based insurers. Specifically: "The UK requires all EEA (European) insurers... to participate in the FSCS in the same way as all insurers that are directly authorised by the FCA."

    In the unlikely event a regulated insurer goes bust, the FSCS will try to find another provider to take over or issue a substitute policy. However, if you've ongoing claims, or need to claim before a new insurer is found, the FSCS should ensure you're covered. For more see the insurance section of the Savings Safety guide.

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