Connect with us


What affects car insurance



What affects car insurance

For some drivers, it’s one of the biggest ‘one-off’ motoring expenses they face during the year. For others, it’s almost trivial. What is it about car insurance that causes such a diverse range of prices, and what can you do to get the best deals?

New cars are often expensive to insure. They are worth a lot, and often have finance which may need GAP insurance for shortfalls, but in a third-party claim will need to be settled by an insurance company. When it comes to used cars, however, you will find an incredible range of prices. When your car is only worth £2,000, it can sting to be charged the same – or more – for insurance, but that’s what many young drivers face. Why?

Insurance: the car is only a small part of the risk

Car insurance groups reflect price, performance and security, and cost of repairs. There is definitely an element of some cars having higher ratings and higher risks, but for the most part, an older driver in a sensible location would need to go for supercars or theft magnets to attract high premiums. The groups are largely driven by how much damage the car could inflict on other road users, and how likely the driver of the car is to be driving recklessly (if it’s a particular performance model). Theft was once a much bigger factor in groupings, but the majority of cars now have excellent security compared to the 1980s and 1990s when joyriding and vandalism, rather than significant organised crime, had a bit of an impact on the vehicle’s chances of being stolen.

Even so, choosing a car with a low insurance group is advised, and may be necessary for new drivers – young or old. You can get policies with telematics boxes, for example, which claim to offer lower policies, yet that’s often only compared to policies from the same group. The most important thing is to shop around. Even as a loyal customer of one brand, I was quoted £675 by my regular insurer, and a new policy for exactly the same risk was £178. That wasn’t a one-off, either, that insurer has been consistently cheap.

Repairs and comprehensive cover

There are several levels of insurance, as many firms bundle all sorts of breakdown, credit hire (replacement car guarantee during repairs) and legal cover into the package, but you will usually choose between third party cover and comprehensive.

In short, third-party cover means you are covered if you crash into someone and damage them or their property/car. That’s the important one. Comprehensive covers your car if you damage it yourself. Most policies add windscreen cover or vandalism cover to these basics, and some policies will grant the policyholder (not the named driver) third party extension when borrowing someone else’s car, for drivers over 25 or 30.

That car must be insured though, as when the policyholder gets out of it the insurance doesn’t apply and it will show as uninsured as well.

Comprehensive insurance is often the same price as third party on older cars with lower risk drivers, but you may save money as a younger driver. Bear in mind your financed car won’t be covered but you will still be liable for the debt. and a third party insurance company may argue for a very low value where comprehensive cover would mean your insurers pay for the loss, then recover it from the third party – and they’re better at arguing and more interested in getting their money back.

Location, location, locaton: your postcode is important

Statistics are key to your car insurance; crime and accident ones as well as demographic generally all drive the underwriter’s numbers (the underwriter provides the figures that cover your claim). A good postcode can save you hundreds in car insurance, as well as just probably being a more relaxed place to live if the alternatives have attracted high premiums.

But even in areas of high claims, you can find savings. If you have a driveway, use it – better yet, a garage. A car in a locked garage is a much lower risk, but off-street parking has a big impact on risk – not least avoiding the possibility of a passing car having a big impact with you. We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of these accidents. Similarly, you’re less likely to attract theft from the car, including the current trend for catalyst thefts, if you can get the car on your driveway and protected with lights or CCTV.

Your driving history counts

In Britain, your car is insured, but you are the risk that is being covered. You and your named drivers – which sometimes, can reduce your risk. Your age, job, driving experience (reflected in your No Claims Bonus), marital status, number of kids and frustratingly, status as a homeowner all have a part to play in assessing that risk. Your nationality and driving licence age and country of issue also affect your policy, but your race, gender or religion should not. The gender divide of driving ability might remain in the mindset of an older generation, but it doesn’t significantly affect premiums now.

Some policies will allow a named driver to earn No Claims Bonus on a parent’s or partner’s policy. This can be useful for younger drivers. Likewise, if you have a company car, a clean driving record will be taken into account. That clean driving record does include points on your license, but if you have done a speed awareness course and you’re not asked about it, you don’t need to bring it up.

Claims are recorded and shared, so don’t lie about them. Third party claims do still count as it’s statistics, not fault, that matters in risk assessment, but they rarely impact your insurance price unless you have a lot of claims, or something was suspicious and flagged later.

How you use your car also affects your insurance

You have heard the phrase ‘social, domestic and pleasure’ and it’s the most common car insurance term, apart from perhaps the distinction between third party or comprehensive cover. It means your car isn’t covered for business use; most policies have a ‘plus commuting’ element. If you do use your car for work, business use doesn’t add much as a rule.

What does affect it is using it for hire or reward. If you want to take on Uber or Deliveroo, rent it out for weddings more than a couple of times a year, or use it to teach driving, then you need to get appropriate cover.

You can get ‘laid-up’ cover for cars that are off the road. Most classic insurance policies will ask about mileage, but all policies have an element of annual distance expected. The average is 10-12,000 miles, so significantly over that can attract a higher premium. The saving for very low mileages is quite small as a rule (unless it’s declared mileage such as the classic cover), but be warned that if you claim to drive 2,500 miles a year and do 25,000, your car’s MOT history is fair game and you could lose cover if you misrepresented your annual mileage significantly.

Do I need insurance?

Yes. It’s the law.

And that leads us onto the real reason your insurance gets expensive. It’s not the value of the car, but the value of the people and infrastructure that it can impact. A significant injury or life-changing disability can cost millions in medical car and compensation over the lifetime of a third party. Run into a family car full of people and that could be four or five third parties involved, notwithstanding your own passengers.

You really don’t want to be liable for that out of your own pocket.

And that leaves a final point on cover. You can, sometimes, get insurance which is road-risks only. That means the car is legally covered but third parties aren’t, including your passengers. It’s a false economy, so please don’t consider it.