Cheapest car insurance prices since 2014 - many can save large NOW even if not at renewal
In a rare bit of good news, car insurance is at a seven-year low at an average £420/yr (£160 less than at its height). Part of the drop, according to the source, MoneySupermarket, is that fewer people driving in lockdown has meant fewer claims.
MoneySaver Alex cut his cover from £650 to £250 mid-year. So the big question is: "Can you take advantage?" And the answer for most is a resounding: "YES". Give us five minutes to take you through it...
How to take advantage of low prices even if not at renewal
The figures above don't describe the usual rip-off prices when you auto-renew, but the cheapest quotes from other insurers. Insurance complexities mean timing affects price - so whether you'll save large switching mid-contract is a definite... maybe. Yet with prices down, it's worth a five-min check, especially if you've big bills.
Use the quick tips below or our full Cheap Car Insurance guide (similar methods apply for cheap home insurance too) to see if you can make decent savings. If so, you can usually cancel your existing policy midway through for a £50ish admin fee, provided you've not claimed, and get a pro-rata refund. However, you won't earn the year's no-claims bonus.
MoneySaver Alex's email proves it's worth trying...
"My Fiat 500 insurance renewal quote was an excessive £678/yr so I haggled it down to £561. I was pleased, till I signed up to your emails and realised there was more I could do - you gave me confidence to try this a few months later, mid-year.
"I followed the steps and got a £253/yr quote, including cancellation fees - a massive saving. The icing was that the cheapest was with my EXISTING provider. I contacted it and it agreed to the new price and to waive my cancellation fee. Thank you very much 😊."
10 tips to slash your car insurance costs
You'd expect with car insurance that saving is simple. And some of our tips below do follow a simple rule-book. But there are many more ways to save where you need to throw logic out of the window...
1. NEVER just use one comparison site - always combine them
No one comparison site covers the whole market - they all look at different insurers and brokers - so it pays to use more than one. Yet it's actually more than that. While the sites call themselves comparison sites, they can be marketplaces in their own right.
What that means is they can have their own prices for insurers (as long as it's not more than going direct), so you may get different prices for the same insurer on different sites. Each month we assess which comparison sites are most likely to give the cheapest quotes - try as many as you've time for...
Our current order is: 1) MoneySupermarket* 2) Confused* 3) CompareTM* 4) Gocompare*. (Why? See comparison order.)
- Then check deals not on comparison sites. Biggie Direct Line* can be competitive and isn't on 'em, plus we've a few deals you won't find on comparisons, eg, a £50 Co-op gift card.
- Struggling to get (cheap) cover? If you have points on your licence, have made several claims or have certain medical conditions, it can be tough. A specialist broker may help. For younger drivers or those doing few miles, a 'black box' telematics policy could mean you pay less, though they can be restrictive.
2. The perfect time to compare is three weeks before renewal, but there's no harm checking earlier too - just not later
Our analysis last month found the optimum time to get a car insurance quote is 23 days ahead of renewal. If you leave it later, prices can almost double (as the graph shows).
Since we started telling you about this trick, we've had likely 1,000s of success reports, such as Ian's: "Brilliant advice - best price, about 21 days before expiry date, was £340. But day before expiry: £637." It works because insurers' risk tables show those who get new insurers' quotes earlier (this is about that, rather than renewal quotes) are a lower risk.
Though, as we explain above, even if you aren't close to renewal, there's nothing wrong with checking to see the prices you can get now. If it's a lot cheaper than your existing cover, it's better to be saving sooner. If not, remember the '23 days before' date.
3. Multicar policies can save or cost you £100s a year
Multicar policies cover, well, multiple cars at one address. Results vary...
Kam (via Facebook) was pro: "I saved £500 by sticking both my and my wife's car on a multicar policy."
Peter (via email) was anti: "Multicar insurer wanted £1,600 for three cars. We got 3 separate policies, for £720."
The issue here is about renewal quotes pushing up the cost. So Martin's rule of thumb is simple: if you're on a multicar policy, check separate policies to see if you can save; if you're on separate, check multicar.
- There are three pure multicar policies (ie, one policy with multiple cars on it): Comparison sites can only compare one car at a time - so if you want to compare multicar policies, you need to do so manually. The three to try are Admiral MultiCar*, Aviva* and LV*.
- Don't worry if you've different renewals: The three providers above let you set up a policy at your 1st car's renewal, while the other car(s) stay with their existing insurer until their renewal. See multicar split renewals.
- Some insurers just give discounts if you've multiple polices with them (for 2+ cars or 2+ types of insurance): If you've time for a bit of trial and error - these include More Than* (15% off), Axa* (up to 15%), Esure* (10%), Privilege (varies) and Sheilas' Wheels* (10%). Meanwhile, Direct Line* and Churchill offer multi-policy discounts - ie, if you already have home insurance, you get a discount on your new car policy (and vice versa).
4. Car insurance may be a grudge purchase, but make sure it's right for you
Some only buy cover as it's a legal requirement, but whether for that reason or you want protection, if you're paying for insurance, make sure it delivers what you need.
Carefully define what options you want, from courtesy cars if yours is being repaired to no-claims discounts, and always check your insurer is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. See our list of what to look for in a policy.
5. Third party cover may not always be cheapest
For some insurers the fact you select comprehensive cover puts you in a lower risk category, so even though you get more cover with it than you do with third party, you can pay less. Use trial and error to see if comprehensive beats 3rd party.
6. Legitimately tweak your job title
You can't claim to be a barrister if you're a barista (or vice versa). But clever savings are possible with small tweaks, such as Chris's: "@MoneySavingExp. Saved £100 by working in 'software' not 'computer games'." Our fun Job Picker tool can help and explains what's legit and what's not.
7. Bizarrely, adding more people to your policy can be cheaper
Insurance is all about risk, so, strangely, adding responsible drivers to your insurance, even if they would only rarely drive the car (eg, your mum, dad or partner) can slash costs. Though never say they're the main driver if they're not.
8. Cashback sites can pay up to £70 to buy through them - but don't pick policies for the cashback
Always focus on getting the right policy first. Once you've done that it's worth checking if you can get a boon via a cashback site (though see this as an added extra as it's not always certain).
It's worth noting too, you should always double-check it's the same price. While cashback sites shouldn't charge more than going direct, they may be costlier than comparison sites if the comparison site has negotiated special prices.
9. Don't want to move? HAGGLE
Many are shocked that their own insurer is often far cheaper in comparison site results than their renewal quote. This is why, even if you don't want to move, you should always follow the process above to see what's out there.
Then when you know your new cheapest quote, take it to your existing insurer (even if it's from your existing insurer) and ask it to match it.
It often works, as Ava emailed: "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, with no policy changes. So happy that I rang. Thanks for the best tips ever." Full help in car insurance haggling.
10. Insurer being a pain? Take it to the ombudsman
Whether it's turning down a claim or you haven't been treated fairly, remember that if your provider rejects your complaint, you've then a right to go to the free Financial Ombudsman Service for an independent ruling.