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Car Insurance

By: Paul Geraghty - Updated: 26 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Car Insurance

In Britain, the law requires you to have motor insurance. The minimum acceptable level is what is called Third Party Insurance. This covers you in the event of claims made against you by others for injuries you have caused to them, or damage you have caused to their property. Two further broad categories of insurance cover are available:

Third Party, Fire and Theft - as with Third Party, it covers you for claims made against you by others, as well as the damage or loss of your vehicle through fire or theft.

Comprehensive - as with Third Party, Fire & Theft, but also provides for the repair or replacement of your vehicle even if you caused the accident, and covers the cost of medical care if you need it.

Car Insurance - The Cost

Many factors influence the price you can expect to pay for car insurance, some obvious and some not so obvious. These are :
  • The car itself - how much does it cost? How frequently is this type of car stolen?
  • Your postcode - is it a high crime area? A rural area where traffic accidents are rare?
  • Married or single? Married people are seen as more stable.
  • Male or female? Males are more accident-prone.
  • Young or old? Younger people pay more.
  • Smoker or non-smoker? Lighting up while driving can be a cause of accidents.

How to Save Money on Car Insurance

Here are some tips on how to save money on your car insurance :
  • The most important thing to remember is to constantly shop around. Insurance companies rely on customer laziness. This is why they often front-load their policy offerings with cashback payments or discounts, knowing that most people will simply renew automatically in succeeding years, even if the payments go up.

  • By garaging your car every night, you should be able to get your premiums down.

  • Install Thatcham-approved security devices in your car and find an insurance company which will give you discounts for doing so. Thatcham is where the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre is based.

  • If you opt to pay a higher "excess," your premiums should come down. The excess is the amount you pay towards any claim before the insurance company is required to contribute.

  • Pay for your insurance in a single lump sum each year, rather than through monthly instalments. The interest rate on the monthly payment option is usually high.

  • Purchase online - many companies offer discounts for this.

  • If you've just recently passed your test, consider doing Pass Plus training. Many insurers will give a significant discount to new drivers who've completed this course.

If you don't want to be burdened by high insurance premiums, you may want to let the insurance rating of a car influence your purchase choice. Any car released onto the consumer market in the UK is given an insurance rating by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).There are 20 group classifications in total, and while insurance companies aren't required to rigidly adhere to them, they should provide you with a strong indication of the relative premium prices you can expect to pay.

On the ABI website, you can search the classification database interactively. Remember, a low group number means a low premium price, and vice versa.

If you're a single female, you may want to consider some of the female-only insurance providers. Statistics show that women are much less likely to be involved in an accident than men, and in the case of female-only insurance providers, their premiums may reflect this. Don't automatically assume that they will be cheaper, though. Surveys have shown that 70% of the female-only insurance providers are not cheaper at all, so be sure to shop around and make sure the rate you're being offered is competitive.

Car Insurance - the Future?

Traditionally, insurance has involved lumping lots of different people together into categories, based on broad, general judgements about their exposure to risk. That can work in your favour, if you're someone who is highly exposed to risk. But it can also work against you. If, for example, you only use your car occasionally at weekends or in the evening, statistically you are at far lower risk than someone who does a daily rush-hour commute. Most insurance policies aren't fine-grained enough to reflect this. But thanks to new technology, that may be about to change.

What's known as "pay-as-you drive" insurance is now being pioneered in the UK. It involves having a black box fitted to your car which records all the details of your journey such as speed, time, and what route you take. The data is collected then automatically transmitted back to the insurance company which will use it to calculate your monthly insurance bill. You are charged a different rate for each mile of your journey depending on what it involved. Expect to be charged more for driving in rush hour than at weekends, for example, and to pay more on urban roads than on motorways. It remains to be seen whether this will catch on. Civil liberties campaigners have raised concerns about it, and the police may want to use the data for prosecutions. But the technology does have the potential to revolutionise the world of motor insurance if it gains popular acceptance.

Car Insurance - Conclusion

Automatically renewing your existing policy is all too easy and all too tempting. It can be a pain to sift through the details of policy options and go around badgering lots of companies for quotes. The internet has made this easier - but some degree of persistence and effort is still required if you really want to cut the costs of your car insurance.

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Something worth pointing out is that if you're under 25 you're going to pay a great deal more for insurance. The companies believe young drivers mature at that age and are less likely to be in accidents or get plenty of speeding tickets. You'll also pay much more if you have a car that's tricked out for speed, or if you do get some points on your licence. The lesson is drive a normal car and be very careful.
Chris N - 23-Jun-12 @ 6:03 AM
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