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Last updated: 30 October 2020

What is car insurance?

Car insurance is a way of protecting yourself in case your car gets stolen, broken into, or you damage your car in an accident. It covers injury costs for you and your passengers and it also protects you if you injure someone or damage their vehicle or property in an accident.

Your car insurance pays out if some or all of these unfortunate events take place, depending on the type of cover you buy.

If you’re a car owner in the UK, you’re legally required to have car insurance. If you drive without insurance, you could be fined and get penalty points on your driving licence. You could even be disqualified from driving.

The only time you don’t need car insurance is if you’ve declared your vehicle off-road with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). You’ll need to keep it on private property if that’s the case.

Cheap car insurance should not be your only goal

While it makes sense to compare car insurance so you can find the best deals, it’s more important to have the right cover than it is to find the cheapest car insurance, UK wide.

The cheapest car insurance quote may not provide you with the cover you need and you could end up in trouble if you need to make a claim. This could cost you hundreds or thousands of pounds and you might even be left without a car.

When you request your quote from a car insurance comparison website, you need to make sure you find the cover you need, at a price you can afford.

The three levels of car insurance 

There are three levels of car insurance that you’ll need to choose between. They vary in price and what they offer. Think carefully about what you need before you go ahead.

Comprehensive

Comprehensive car insurance – sometimes called fully comprehensive, or just fully comp – covers you, your car, passengers and property. It also covers any third parties involved in an accident with you. And it protects your car against vandalism and theft. 

Some policies let you drive other people’s cars too. It offers more cover than any other type of car insurance but it’s not always the most expensive.

Third-party, fire and theft

Third-party, fire and theft car insurance covers other parties involved in an accident with you. It also gives you protection if your vehicle was stolen or damaged by fire. Remember that it doesn’t payout for any damage to your own vehicle if you had an accident.

Third-party only

Third-party cover is the most basic level of car insurance. It just covers you for any compensation you might have to pay for injury to others, and for damage to anyone else’s property. It’s a minimum legal requirement for all drivers in the UK to have this insurance.

Other types of UK car insurance cover 

There are several different types of car insurance that you might like to think about before you get car insurance quotes.

  • Multi-car insurance is a policy that covers two or more cars in your household.

  • Black box car insurance monitors your driving using a telematics box which is fitted to your car and sends information about your driving to the insurer. The better you drive, the less you pay.

  • Learner car insurance is the car insurance UK provisional licence holders need to have.

  • Taxi insurance is a motor insurance policy to cover cars used for commercial hire.

  • Short term car insurance is a temporary car insurance policy which covers you for a short period of time, such as a week or a few months.

  • European car insurance is needed in certain countries. But you can drive in most European countries on your normal UK car insurance.

  • Business car insurance is for people who use their car for business reasons, such as driving to meetings on behalf of their employer.

  • Classic car insurance is for classic car owners. Classic cars are usually worth more money, and cost more to repair, than modern cars. For that reason, they sometimes need a special classic car insurance policy.

  • Car insurance for over 50s is usually cheaper because older drivers have lots of experience. Some insurers sell special over 50s policies.

 

Find the best car insurance policy for you

When you’re looking at different comparison website quotes to find the best car insurance for your needs, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Cover before cost

Decide which type of cover you need based on your driving habits and situation. Then find the best car insurance deals for your needs. Don’t just go for cheap car insurance as you might regret it later.

Level of cover

Choosing between comprehensive and third-party cover can be tricky. If the car you’re insuring is newer and you couldn’t afford to replace it if you needed to, comprehensive cover is better for you. But, if your car is more than 10 years old, or has more than 100,000 miles on it, and isn’t worth a lot of money, third-party cover might be better.

Excess

The voluntary excess is the minimum amount you’ll pay when you make a claim on your car insurance policy. The higher the excess you’re able to pay, the cheaper your premium will be. It’s important to choose an excess you can afford, otherwise, you won’t be able to make a claim.

When you’ve decided what your ideal car insurance would be, compare deals that fit your criteria.

Should you add extras to your car insurance policy?

You can tailor your car insurance policy, and get better cover, by paying to add extra benefits. These include:

  • Legal cover

  • Breakdown cover

  • Cover for lost or stolen keys

  • No claims protection

  • Cover for driving abroad

  • Windscreen repair and replacement

  • Courtesy car

  • Personal injury

What is no claims protection?

Some insurers reward people if they go a long time without making a claim. Usually, for every year you don’t claim, you’ll get a little bit more of a discount on your policy renewal. This is called a no claims bonus.

You can pay extra to protect your no claims bonus, so you don’t lose your discount even if you need to claim. This is called no claims protection and you can usually get it once you’ve reached three years with no claims.

How to get car insurance quotes?

One of the best ways to get car insurance quotes is to do a car insurance comparison. To do this, you’ll need to enter your car registration at the top of this page. Then you’ll need to share some details such as:

  • Car model and make

If you know your car’s registration number, comparison websites will find all the details of your car from a UK registrations database. But if you don’t, giving your car’s make and model is often enough. You also need to mention any modifications you’ve made.

  • Usage and mileage

This is about what you use your car for – whether it’s for commuting, socialising or business. You’ll also need to say how many miles you travel in a year.

  • Personal information

Your name, age, address and employment details.

  • Your licence

The kind of licence you have can affect your insurance. This is also where you can add any other driving qualifications you may have.

  • Claim history

You’ll need to confirm how many years’ worth of no claims bonus you’ve got. Or you’ll need to give details about any accidents you’ve had or claims you’ve made in the last five years.

What is the price of car insurance based on?

The price of your motor insurance is based on many factors gleaned from the information you give on your quote application. These are called risk factors, as the insurer bases your premium on how likely it is you will make a claim. These include:

  • Your annual mileage – people who drive a lot are more likely to have an accident

  • Your occupation – some jobs are seen as riskier than others

  • Which insurance group your car’s in – the lower the group, the cheaper it’ll be to repair or replace, and the cheaper your car insurance will be

  • Your address – because many claims are for incidents of vandalism and theft close to people’s homes and crime rates in your area are taken into consideration by your car insurance company

  • How old you are – young drivers pay more than older, more experienced motorists

  • Your claims history – this will affect your no claims discount

  • Your driving history – if you have previous driving convictions, endorsements or points on your driving licence you may have to pay a higher premium

  • Your criminal history – if you have convictions you’re seen as higher risk

  • Whether you want to add anyone else to your policy – if they are an experienced driver with no claims, it can reduce the price of your policy

 

How to get the best deal on car insurance

While it’s most important that you get the right car insurance for your needs, you’ll also want to get a fair deal and some cheap quotes. Nobody wants to pay more than they need to.

There are a few things you can do to reduce the price of your motor insurance.

  • Lower your risk

The price of your car insurance is based on how much of a risk insurers think you are. To reduce your risk you could protect your car by fitting an approved alarm or parking it in a garage. You could also buy a car from one of the lower car insurance groups. Cars from the lower car insurance groups are cheaper to repair or replace.

  • Lower the price

Car insurers usually give you a better deal if you pay your insurance annually, rather than in monthly instalments. It also helps if you add experienced drivers to the cover, even if they don’t use the car that often.

  • Shop around

If you compare car insurance quotes you’ll be able to find the best deal possible. But don’t cut corners to get cheap insurance. You can also ask for a discount – haggling doesn’t hurt. If you find a quote with a different insurer, ask your current provider to beat or match the offer. It’s not a guarantee, but chances are car insurance companies want to keep your business.

Don’t forget that it’s important to give accurate information to your insurer. It could be tempting to say someone else is the main driver, to lie about your driving history or to underestimate your mileage to reduce the price. But it’s never a good idea. Lying could make your insurance invalid, and you could be prosecuted.

Once you’ve got your car insurance, you also remember to tell your insurer if your situation changes at all, such as if you move house or modify your vehicle. If you don’t, your insurance could be invalid. Your insurer could cancel your policy and this would make it harder to get a policy from other insurance companies in the future.

How to work out the mileage on your car?

You can work out how many miles you do a week and then multiply it by 52 weeks to get a year’s mileage. Or you can have a look at your MOT certificates to see what your mileage has been like in recent years.

The more miles you do, the riskier you’ll seem to insurers because you’re more likely to have an accident. But it’s important to be as accurate as you can when you do your insurance comparison. Your insurer needs the right details, so you don’t accidentally invalidate the policy.

How do you estimate the value of your car?

There are lots of websites where you can get a free valuation of your car. The value’s based on its age, mileage, make, service history, condition and modifications. You could also check how much cars like yours are selling for on used-car listings.

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