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How to compare car insurance

With so many options available when it comes to finding the best policy for your needs, the trickiest thing can be knowing how to compare car insurance. What can make it particularly frustrating is that you may have found the best deal one year, only to find that the same insurer is uncompetitive 12 months later.

This could be because your insurer fails to reward loyalty. It may also be a result of your circumstances having changed. Maybe you’ve bought a different car, changed job or address, or possibly you’ve made a claim or been convicted of an offence. That simply underlines the need to at least check the premiums elsewhere before renewing the policy.

Sources of quotes

If it’s time for you to renew your cover, there are two options available. One is to contact insurance companies directly, either by calling or going online. The other is to use a broker or comparison website. They will be able to obtain quotes from more than one company and therefore make it easier for you to find the one that best suits your circumstances and the level of cover you need.

Factors that affect premiums

The nature of the cover you select will of course have a major impact on the premium you’ll have to pay. The cheapest form of protection may be third party cover, which is the most basic cover. This will only pay out the cost of repairing damage to the other party if you are involved in a collision. You will have to pay for any damage to your vehicle. Clearly this type of insurance is limited. Third party fire and theft policies are the same, but as their name suggests, they also provide protection if your vehicle is stolen or damaged by fire. 

Comprehensive cover will pay the cost of repairing damage to your car as well as any other vehicle involved in a collision that is your fault. The amount you receive will typically be the total cost of the work, subject to deductions for a policy excess.

Before you settle on a final premium, you should think about the size of the policy excess you are comfortable with. That is the amount that will be deducted from any claim. For example, an excess of £100 means that if your car is damaged and you claim £1,000, the insurers will deduct the agreed excess and pay out £900. A higher excess will reduce the overall cost of your premiums, partly because it makes it less likely that you will make claims for minor damage.

The type of car, age and occupation of the driver, and the address where the vehicle is registered will also have an impact on the annual premium. Among the other factors that can influence the cost include where you will park overnight – on-street parking carries a greater risk of damage than the car being kept in a garage. Security features such as an alarm usually make it cheaper.

The insurer will ask how much driving you typically do in a year. Obviously, a higher mileage increases the possibility of being involved in an accident and will therefore lead to a higher premium.

You should also decide whether you want to include policy extras such as breakdown cover or legal protection to settle any dispute arising from an accident, and whether you want to include the option of having a courtesy car if your vehicle is too badly damaged to drive.

How to pay

Once you’ve settled on the cover you want, there is one final factor you need to consider. It will normally be cheaper to pay the premium in a single instalment rather than monthly payments.

Other related FAQs

Looking for more related content to this? We’ve picked a selection of related topics that you may find helpful

There are many factors that determine the price of car insurance, and some drivers find that the cost of their premiums starts to decrease once they hit a certain age.

In general, the earliest you can get an insurance quote is around 30 days before you need the cover to start.

Many insurance companies will price match – especially if you’re renewing your insurance with them. It’s not uncommon for providers to offer exceptional prices if you’re a new customer – but not be quite as competitive when you get your auto-renew price. There’s no harm in asking for a price match – the worst they can say is no!

Although it will be registered, getting car insurance quotes does not have an impact on your credit rating, so it won’t be taken into account if you apply for a loan or other form of credit in the future.

The level of cover you need when it comes to car insurance depends on what you want to be able to claim for.

Yes - a car insurance provider can find out if you have any penalty points on your driving licence, even if choose not to disclose them during the application process.

Although it’s perfectly legal to have two car insurance policies running at the same time, it can make claims unnecessarily complicated. As such, it’s worth making sure you only have one policy in place for your vehicle.

Your job can be a factor when an insurance company is working out how much to charge for your premium - and this can mean that there are certain good occupations for cheap car insurance.

All cars are assigned into a group based on how much they cost to insure, with group 1 being the cheapest to insure up to group 50 being the most expensive. Insurance groups are a rating of the car for insurance purposes.

If you’re using your vehicle for anything related to the work you do, then you’ll need to let your insurer know and pay for the right level of cover. If you don’t – you may find you’re driving illegally.