If you’re a young driver then finding competitive car insurance can be an uphill battle. In June 2011, a survey by a learner drive car insurance specialist revealed that 93 per cent of young drivers believe that “unrealistic” insurance costs are pricing them off the road.
So what can be done to get car insurance at a reasonable price? Here we offer a seven step guide.
Step one: Consider learner driver’s car insurance
Learner driver’s car insurance is specifically designed to help young motorists who have not yet passed their test get the cover they need to practise without an official instructor.
Typically a learner driver’s car insurance policy is temporary and will allow the motorist to drive several cars, as long as they are under a certain value, without risk to the car owner’s insurance. So in theory, a provisional driver could learn with their parents’, grandparents’, and even friends’ cars, as long as the person they are driving with is aged over 21 and has more than three years’ driving experience.
Step two: Once you’ve passed your test take the Pass Plus
Once you’ve passed your practical driving exam don’t rush to get behind the wheel of your own car – consider completing the Pass Plus course first. The Pass Plus offers tuition in a range of driving scenarios that new drivers typically have limited or no experience in, such as: driving on a motorway, driving on a dual carriageway, driving on country lanes, driving in a city, driving at night and driving in difficult weather conditions.
You may be able to get assistance with the cost of the Pass Plus course from your local authority and taking it could really pay off with some insurers offering discounts up to 35 per cent for those who complete all modules.
Step three: Get the right car
There are a number of factors that influence car insurance premiums including: your personal circumstances; your annual mileage; your driving history; and your address. However, as a new driver, one of the most important considerations should be the first car you drive.
The Association of British Insurers assesses vehicles and places them into groups ranging from 1-50 (previously 1-20) based on considerations like their age, costs of replacement parts, cost of repairs, value and security features. Cars in higher groups typically earn higher premiums. Usually newer vehicles earn higher premiums because they cost more to repair/replace; while cars with larger engines also face higher insurance costs because they are more likely to be driven at fast speeds.
If you are a young driver it becomes particularly important to choose a sensible vehicle for your first car. Once you have proven you are a good driver and built up a no-claims discount then you can consider upgrading to a more powerful vehicle.
Step four: Choose the right level of cover
There are three broad options for car insurance cover – third party; third party, fire and theft; and comprehensive cover. The latter is the most complete form of cover and will usually protect your own vehicle against accident-related damage subject to policy exclusions; as well as containing additional features such as windscreen cover, personal accident cover, accidental damage and more.
While comprehensive cover is recommended to most drivers you may prefer a third party only policy during your first year. The stripped down policy covers liability for injuries to others and damage to their property, as well as liability while towing a caravan or trailer. Third party, fire and theft cover adds protection for your own vehicle against fire damage, theft and damage from an attempted theft.
With a comprehensive policy you may find you pay more for car insurance in a year than your vehicle is worth – so if you are driving an older car, consider third party policies as an alternative.
Step five: Reduce your risk
Think about ways to reduce the risk you pose of making a claim. For example, fitting security devices to your car will reduce the risk of a theft occurring and so most insurers will lower your premiums. Parking in a garage overnight works in a similar way, reducing theft risk and cutting premiums.
Similarly you may be able to save by agreeing to a mileage cap; raising your voluntary excess; and paying premiums annually instead of monthly to avoid interest charges.
Step six: Look for incentives
Many car insurance providers look to attract young drivers with special incentives – hoping that once you sign up you’ll stick with them in the long term.
Of course you’re not obliged to stay with the same insurer year after year but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of offers such as rapid bonus schemes which may allow you to earn a full year’s no-claims discount in as little as nine months.
Step seven: Shop around
Remember that nearly every insurer will assess premiums in different ways and so the only way to be sure you’re getting value for money is to compare as many policies as possible.
One of the fastest ways to do this is to use a comparison website, which can compare deals from as many as 120 car insurers with one search.