The cost of car insurance has rocketed over the past 12 months, and with prices predicted to rise even further, our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis is here with an urgent warning to check whether you can lock in at a cheaper price today – even if you’re not at renewal.
The AA's latest index just out shows a 16% jump in the last year, adding almost £82 to a typical policy, and it has said it “can't see an immediate end” to the rises.
Yet of course when you get car insurance the price is fixed for the year, so by getting a policy now you effectively future proof against rises.
1.Ensure you're on TODAY'S cheapest deal – then if prices rise, you're protected. If the predictions are correct and prices keep moving up, today's prices will soon look cheap. Plus many are overpaying already, especially those who just auto-renewed. Here's what to do:
AT RENEWAL? Then it's easy, just move to the point 2 below to find your cheapest cover. Crucially, NEVER automatically accept your renewal quote - it's almost always a rip-off.
RENEWAL WITHIN 60 DAYS? Some firms such as Aviva , LV and Nationwide give quotes valid for 60 days so get one now, then check against quotes at renewal time. As @dimuthuj7 tweeted: “@MartinSLewis Renewal £521. Quote a month ago, which was honoured, of £319. Thanks."
MIDWAY THROUGH A POLICY? Many wrongly think you can only switch at renewal, but you can do it at any stage. Check if you can get a cheaper policy now, if so provided you've not claimed, for a £50ish admin fee (factor that in) you can usually cancel and get the rest of the year refunded. You won't earn the year's no-claims bonus, but if it means you save now and prevent future price rises it can be a big winner.
The impact of this can be big, as @mubzymalone tweeted me: "Just HALVED my car insurance, saving £543 by changing mid-policy. HUGE thanks to @MartinSLewis for the tip." Not only is he saving now, he's locked in the price for a year, stalling any rises. So the sooner you act, the more you're likely to save - even if you're not close to renewal.
2.How to find the cheapest price at speed. There's no one cheapest insurer, as prices are set individually. So the aim's to check as many quotes as possible, quickly and easily. Comparison sites do that, yet they don't all cover the same insurers or even give the same price for the same insurer, so try to use two or three (open all the windows at the same time, then cut and paste your info across).
But a couple of the big insurers like Direct Line and Aviva aren’t on them. Yet they can be competitive especially if you've no convictions and a clean licence, so check these separately too as they can lead to big savings. Also there can be special promo deals not included too, (many of these are listed via Martin’s full guide linked above).
And remember always check that the policy has the right level of cover for you.
3.Nine tricks to slash the costs even further…
Many of these are trial and error. I’m not saying they’ll definitely cut the cost but it’s worth having a play to see if it can.
- Check multi-car policies if you've more than one car in the home
A few insurers offer special discounts if you have more than one car. It's always worth trial and error to compare these against standalone deals. Annoyingly comparison sites’ don’t include them so you need to do it manually. Admiral MultiCar gives discounts of up to 25% depending on how many cars you insure. You can also get discounts by linking the household standalone policies with Churchill, Direct Line and Privilege. The savings here could be huge.
- Comprehensive cover may be cheaper than third party I know this doesn’t make sense. Yet merely selecting comprehensive means some insurers see you as a lower risk, and it lowers the price. So if you want the cheapest cover, check if comprehensive’s cheaper.
-Adding an extra driver could cost less Adding another person to the policy who is a lower risk profile could bring down your premium, as the average risk is reduced. It’s especially strong if you're a young driver adding a responsible older driver. Yet everyone should try, as Bouncybubbles told me: "Quoted £900 from £500 previous year. By comparing then adding my husband I got it down to £298."
- Legitimately tweak your job title
You can't claim to be the Prime Minister if you're a pole dancer (or vice-versa) but many people have wide ranging roles. So by tweaking your job description you might find your quote is lower. Like @RPJ_Webster93 who tweeted: "Thanks to your 'reword job title' tip my car insurance quote reduced by £500." He legitimately changed his job title from 'council worker' to 'civil servant - cleric'.
- Don’t ‘pay monthly’ – it doesn't exist
Insurers may call it paying monthly, but actually they loan you the year's cost and while a few are interest free, most charge often hideous interest. The worst offender I’ve seen charges up-to-93% APR interest. So check and if it’s costly, pay upfront if you can. If not, try to get one of the many year-long-plus 0% credit cards. Just ensure you pay it off over the year, then there's no cost.
- Consider installing a 'black box'
This device is the tech (officially called 'telematics') insurers put inside your car to monitor how you drive and when. It's especially useful for younger drivers facing hefty premiums, though if your mileage is limited and you don't drive at peak times or late at night, it can work well too.
- If you don’t want to switch, then at least haggleHaggling works best when you’re at renewal. But even if you aren’t it’s still worth a try.Simply find the best price you can at speed, then call up your existing provider and ask it to beat or match it. Often it will, like with Sue who emailed: "Received my renewal for car insurance at £437, comparison sites had it for £290 with the same company. Rang company and got it for £297.”
- Got special circumstances and struggling, speak to a broker
If your circumstances aren’t normal, getting insurance can be tough. Often getting an insurance broker to find a bespoke policy for you can beat comparison sites.
- Can you get cashback Once you’ve found your cheapest policy check cashback websites like Quidco and TopCashback to see if you can get any money back on the policy you’ve chosen if you buy it via them - this can be over £50 so is often worth it. Yet don’t let the cashback tail wag the dog. Choose the right policy first, then see cashback as an added extra (as it isn’t 100% guaranteed).