Buying your first car insurance policy

Buying your first car insurance policy

It will be no surprise to anyone if I say that insurance is often the single biggest cost when buying your first car, with some premiums costing thousands. The whole process can also be very stressful and time consuming.

Most insurance companies work out their premiums based on the chance of a claim being made (i.e. an accident, a theft etc..), generally the rule of thumb is the higher the chances of a claim the higher the premium will be, after all the insurance companies are out to make a profit. There are ways however to minimize to cost of your first car insurance policy. In order to look at these we will need to mention what are the main factors that insurance companies look at when insuring a car, the main ones are:  

  • Age 
  • Car Make / Model 
  • Additional Drivers 
  • Occupation 
  • Address 
  • Vehicle Usage    
  • Gender - Actually this no longer effects insurance premiums!

These factors are discussed in further details below


Age

It will be no surprise to hear that age will drastically increase your premium, a 17 year old will be charged a lot more for an insurance policy than a 40 year old, even if both had the same amount of driving experience. This is mainly because more accidents are cause by drivers under 25 than any other age group.   

Clearly this is not something that you can change so unfortunately you will just have to bear paying a higher premium for being young, the only good news is each year you will be a year older, so it is highly likely that your premiums will drop to reflect this (unless something else has drastically changed, such as making a claim or buying a different car)

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Car Make / Model

The make and model of car you choose for your first car can have a HUGE impact on what the insurance price will be. Basically all cars are classed in a certain insurance group, 1- 50, where an insurance group 1 will often get the cheapest insurance and a car with insurance group 50 will get a very high insurance premium. The insurance group is not just down to the size of the engine, although this does affect it, other factors such as the cars safety or 'NCAP rating' are also taken into account, generally the safer the car is the cheaper the insurance will be, as if a car is safe then any accidents are less likely to result in injury to the driver / passengers, so lower medical bills for the insurance company to potentially pay. It is well worth looking at the cars insurance group before buying any car, you may well find that OVERALL it is cheaper to buy a car for £1000 that is insurance group 1, say insurance was £1000, overall cost £2000 compared to buying a car for £200 that is insurance group 5, say insurance was £2500, overall cost £2,700. So in this example you have got a more expensive car, which is hopefully newer and better quality that the £200 car, but overall you are paying less! Which in my books is win win!    You can also find out what insurance group your car is, or the car that you are looking to buy by clicking this link: http://www.parkers.co.uk/cars/insurance/car-insura…


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Additional Drivers

Adding an experienced additional driver, with a long no claims discount, to your policy can often reduce the overall cost. In fact when I was paying for my car insurance for the first few years I always put my mum on the policy, which helped to save me a few hundred pounds a year on the premium, even though my mum never drove my car. 

However, be aware sometimes adding an additional driver can increase the premium, particularly if the additional driver is in-experienced or has made a claim on their own car insurance policy in the last few years. It is often best to get a quote from insurers with and without an additional driver and see which is cheaper.


 

Occupation

Insurance companies will often charge more if you have an occupation which could increase the chances of having an accident, i.e. a driving related occupation (more time on the road = more chance of accident), even working with or near alcohol can increase the price, i.e. working at a pub, as they may see it as an increased change that you will drink drive, therefore increase you risks of having an accident, also you are likely to be driving more at night. 

As you will suspect your occupation is not something that you will be able to change in order to get cheaper insurance, your job is you job, and it is not worth lying to the insurance company about your job, if you do and they find out your insurance policy may be invalid and you will be left to pick up and costs for any accidents your may have.


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Address

Again this is not one that you have much control over, well unless you move house just to get cheaper insurance. Basically if you live in an area with a high crime rate and high level of accidents then your insurance is likely to be high. If you live in an area where there is little traffic and little crime you insurance is likely to be a lot cheaper. I recall that when I moved from Burgess Hill to Crawley a few years ago my insurance premium increaced by nearly £100! I suspect because Crawley has a higher crime rate and also is a busier town with more cars so more chance of an accident.


Vehicle Usage

You can't really control this either, you use your vehicle as much as you use it. If you have to travel lots of miles each year then your insurance is likely to be more expensive compared to someone who only travels a few thousand miles per year, after all the more you are on the road the more chance there is of you having an accident.


Blackboxes

Another way to potential save money on you first insurance policy is to get a 'blackbox' fitted, this is a device that will be fitted to your car (you may have to pay to get the device fitted) and will monitor how your drive. The blackbox looks at things such as speed, acceleration and harsh braking to work out how safely you’re driving. If you are constantly driving fast, accelerating hard and/or having to brake hard then the device will detect this and send this information to the insurance company, and they may then increase your premium. However if you drive smoothly, i.e. smooth acceleration and braking, then the insurance company may reduce your premium as a reward for driving in this way. 

Some companies will also place curfews, were you may be penalized if you drive between say 10pm and 8am, this is because lots of accidents happen at night for reasons such as young drivers often having reduced experience of night driving and the effect of fatigue causing reduced concentration. Clearly there are advantages and disadvantages of having a blackbox, such as you driving will always be monitor so it may feel like Big Brother! Also as the premium can constantly change depending on what information the blackbox gives to the insurance company you can never be 100% sure what you will be paying, so potentially in the long run you may end up paying more than a conventional car insurance policy. Also be aware of some of the marketing that some of these companies do, such as '70% got a discount for driving safely', this may sound great, but in reality it may not be, as some of these companies will charge quite a high premium to start with (even more than a normal insurance company) and they will almost have no choice but to reduce the premium if you drive safely, as this is the whole point of having a blackbox fitted! To me it would seem a bit pointless to have a blackbox fitted and then you do not make a saving for driving safely.

Not all companies will offer a discount for having a blackbox, but one that does in Marmalade they offer insurance policies for both provisional licence holders and new drivers, they also have a great deal where you can get a brand new car with a years free insurance for a monthly payment which is often less that £200! 


Other Tips For Reduced Insurance Premiums

  • Excess Level - If you make a claim this is the amount of money you will need to pay to the insurance company before they will start their investigation and pay you out any owed money. Generally speaking the higher the excess you agree to the cheaper the insurance, you will not save hundreds on your premium here, only £10 or £20 but it is one thing to help reduce the cost. HOWEVER, be aware that if you agree to your excess being £1000 to get your insurance cheaper you will need to be prepared to pay £1000 if you do need to make a claim. Also be aware that with some companies they will charge the same premium for a £1000 excess compared to a £250 excess, so in this case there would not seem much point in agreeing to a larger excess if it is not going to effect the insurance premium.  
  • Where do you keep your car parked? - This can have an impact on your insurance, if you park you car on your driveway at night and in a secure car park in the day there is a reduced risk of a theft compared to someone who parks their car on the road at night and on a road away from home in the day.

Search Around

I guess the best tip for getting cheaper insurance would be to search around comparing companies, when I renew my insurance I will normally go to comparethemarket.com, on thier website you can easily change details (such as excess level, car make/model..) and see how this effects insurance premiums from various different insurers. Also if you do go to comparethemarket.com and buy a policy you will get one of their famous cuddly meekat toys :-)

There will be some companies that are not on these comparison sites, companies like Aviva, Churchill and Directline. I personally find Churchill and Directline quite expensive, however often Aviva offer a fair price and they are also one of the largest insurance providers out there. However you may find Churchill offer you a good price, the only way to find out is to do a quick quote with them, it will normally take less than 5 miniutes and could save you hundreds of pounds if they are offering a really good deal on insurance.


REMEMBER - When your first insurance policy is coming to an end don't straight away go with the same company, it is worth while looking round again, you may just save yourself a few hundred pounds :-)