Car insurance is a fact of life: if you drive, you need to buy insurance.
It's well known that factors like your age, accident history and car model are used to determine the price you pay for insurance. However, there are some weirder factors that can affect your premium - such as your job title, when you renew your policy and even your credit record.
By being smart about these, you can save money without skimping on the quality of your cover. Here are our seven secret ways to help you get cheaper car insurance.
1. Improve your credit score
It’s a little-known fact that insurers look at your credit record when pricing your insurance policy. While your score doesn't predict your chances of being in an accident, factors like your payment history and the types of credit you use help insurers predict the likelihood that you'll make a claim (it's been found that people with a good credit history tend to make fewer insurance claims).
While a high credit score doesn’t guarantee you’ll be offered cheap car insurance, shaping up your score might help bring down the price of your premium. Improving your score is simple - check out our.
2. Choose your job title carefully
Did you know the job title you use on your insurance application could affect the cost of your policy? Insurers base their prices on past claims data, and have found that some jobs are riskier than others.
People with car-related jobs, such as mechanics or car salesmen, are considered riskier drivers. This could be because they spend more time behind the wheel or because they’re more confident drivers, so they tend to drive faster. Insurers make them pay more in premiums to make up for that potential extra risk.
Other occupations can be treated differently for more mysterious reasons: for example, a ‘writer’ may get cheaper premiums than a ‘journalist’ and a ‘cook’ may pay less than a ‘chef’ even though they do the same job.
If there is more than one way to describe what you do, get separate quotes for all of them so you can find the cheapest. If you’re a barber, would you get a cheaper deal describing yourself as a hairdresser? What about an illustrator versus an artist?
As you can see, we’re talking about little tweaks here, not misrepresenting the job you actually do. Remember that lying to an insurer is insurance fraud and you’d be breaking the law.
3. Switch three weeks before renewal
It’s important to time your insurance renewal correctly to avoid overpaying. That means not renewing too early, and not too close to deadline.
So what’s the sweet spot? Research has found that buying car insurance three weeks before your renewal date could slash as much as 50% off your premium.
Even buying 30 days in advance as opposed to 21 days could mean you miss out on big savings, and definitely don’t renew it on the day. Insurers have found a link between drivers who renew their insurance at the last minute and those who make a higher number of claims, so they ramp up the price of cover for those drivers. Make sure you’re not one of them.
4. Boost your excess
If you choose to pay a higher excess, you could reduce the cost of your policy, but of course it means you’ll pay more if you need to make a claim. If you have savings that could cover the excess if you have an accident, for example, boosting your voluntary excess could be a sensible way to bring down the price of your cover.
5. Don’t auto-renew
It may be convenient to just let your car insurance policy auto-renew every year, but your insurer won’t reward your loyalty. In fact, it will probably hike your premium; research has found that auto-renewing costs consumers around £1.4 billion every year.
Shopping around for a better deal could result in a saving of up to £222, yet around 35% of motorists still let their policies renew automatically. You can stop auto-renewal by changing your account settings online (if you manage your policy that way), or by phoning your provider. Then set a reminder on your phone or calendar, so you can be ready to switch three weeks before your current policy ends.
Even if you don’t really want to change your insurer, you could ask them to price match a cheaper quote. Your insurer should remind you a few weeks before your policy renews automatically, but if it doesn’t, or you miss the cut-off point, you get a 14-day cooling off period after auto-renewal in which you can still cancel.
6. Don't pay for what you don't need
If your insurance includes breakdown cover, check the price and level of cover, because you might find cheaper cover elsewhere.
If your insurer tries to sell you legal expenses cover, check if you really need it, or whether you could get it cheaper somewhere else.
7. Add another driver
If you're a young or inexperienced driver, adding an older driver with a long no-claims record to your policy as an additional driver can bring down your premiums. This is because the insurer assumes you'll spend less time driving the car if it’s shared, reducing the chances of an accident.
A word of warning though: don’t be tempted to lie about who is the main driver of the car. This is called ‘fronting’, and it’s illegal.
If you drive, you need decent insurance cover, but you don’t have to pay over the odds for it. These seven tips should help you get the best deal you can on this essential expense.