It's a sad fact of Life Car Insurance, in Ireland and the UK at least, is a rip off. With constant reports of collusion and price fixing between the major insurers, getting the letter advising you of a massive increase for the same policy you had last year is increasingly becoming a routine part of owning a car. While there have been some much needed drops in the average insurance premium (now €781 per year in Ireland), the overall trend is still creeping steadily upward, with many drivers reporting increases of over 50% in their premiums despite no change in their situation! Unfortunately there's no 100% guaranteed way to reduce your premium, and your renewal quote is based on a huge number of variables that aren't very transparent. That being said, there are a wide variety of ways that you can bring the overall quote down that you might not have considered - here are some of the most reliable!
1. Shop Around
The number one, surefire way to get a lower quote is to shop around. You'll need to do some legwork - most of the bigger insurers require you to fill out lengthy quote forms before they'll give you a quote, and even then sometimes they won't provide an instant car insurance quote. In any case, you should treat this as just what it is - a quote. There's often a bit of wiggle room on this, and you'll get a lot further with many providers if you follow an online quote up with a phone call. Better yet, let them chase you! If you've given a phone number with your application you're basically guaranteed a follow up call within a couple of hours and the agent at the other end of the line will be keen to get your business and will do their best to lower the quote for you if you're not interested in the first price they offer. Also - insurers will only give you a quote for a policy starting a month from the current date, so start shopping a month ahead of your renewal. If you're hopping around last minute you're much more likely to accept a worse deal, and insurers might not do anything to drop their current quote if they think you're desperate.
2. Pay Up Front
There's no way around it: paying your car insurance premium in one go is the cheapest way to go about it. While most insurers offer an installment option over direct debit, you'll be charged interest on this - increasing the price of the same policy by an average of 10% over the year. Installments are obviously more manageable and may just be a better option for your budget, but the up front payment is cheaper in the long run. It's also worth noting that almost any quote you get from any insurer is based on an initial up front payment, you'll pay more than what they're offering if you choose to pay monthly.
3. The Bare Necessities
Extras add up! Your policy might include a few bells and whistles that aren't any use to you. Things like windscreen cover and breakdown assistance are great to have for peace of mind but they can go on the chopping block if you're trying to trim down a quote. Similarly, boosting your excess could knock 5% or more off the price of your quote. In the case of an accident you might not mind paying €50 more on your excess if it knocks €100 off your premiums for the year, for example. As a last resort you might also consider switching from a Fully Comprehensive policy to a Third Party, Fire & Theft one; this should really only be considered for older cars where the cost of repairing anything more than light cosmetic damage would exceed the value of the car.
4. Build A Good Driving History
This one isn't a quick fix, but building a good rep will work wonders when seeking a new car insurance quote. Maintaining a clear no-claims record grants you a larger discount (50%+) provided you avoid getting in an accident for a number of consecutive years. No Claims Bonus Protection is an optional extra on many policies which might raise your policy premium slightly but will be a life-saver if you're at fault in an accident - the most common reason for huge premium increases! Similarly, keeping a clean slate when it comes to penalty points will show that you're a responsible motorist and keep you in the lowest risk tier when an insurer is assessing you for a quote. Some insurers, such as AIG and Aviva, also offer 'safe driver' programs in the form of extra driving courses or apps and trackers to assess your driving and knock a hefty chunk off your premium provided you obey the rules of the program. Ask your insurer if they have anything similar which could reduce your costs over the year. Lastly, are you looking for your first own-name policy? If you've been a named driver on somebody else's policy whilst learning or because you were using a family member's car, many insurers will factor in this named-driver experience when quoting you. We've heard of long term named drivers knocking 50% off an initial quote purely based on this experience, so it's worth mentioning. Speaking of named drivers...
5. Add A Named Driver
Companies providing car insurance LOVE when you add a named driver to the policy as in theory it suggests that, at least part of the time, your car will be driven by a more experienced driver and thus will be in more capable hands. Only consider adding somebody living at the same address as you who has no penalty points and a good history of no claims, otherwise they won't be accepted. This can make a big difference.
6. Location, Location
There are two parts to this - where you live, and how you park. You can't do a whole heap to change your physical address, and some parts of the country/city are deemed higher risk than others (thus attracting a higher premium). Do make sure you alert your insurer if you move home though - you may not be covered if you don't, but you may also qualify for a cheaper policy or partial refund if you've moved to a 'lower risk' area. Consider too where you physically park the car at night - parked up on the driveway might be cheaper than at the kerb on a busy street, and if you've got an enclosed garage you're sorted.
7. Check Your Personal Info
Your car insurance premium is a reflection on both you and your vehicle. Besides driving experience and address, there are a couple of other factors that can have an impact on what you pay. Your age and your gender are unfortunately still taken into account and aren't things you can really change easily. That said, there are a couple of things you CAN change. Your annual mileage, for example! The less you drive over the course of a year, the lower your risk of an accident (statistically that is). Try and work out your average as you may currently be overestimating. Don't lie about it though - insurers ask for the mileage of your car and you could get caught out if you're renewing with more miles on the clock than you've declared. Your job can also have an impact on your quote, and generally being less specific is better for some reason we can't fathom. Example - we've been told that marking yourself down as 'kitchen staff' or 'office staff' can be cheaper than 'chef' or 'marketing manager'... just don't bend the truth here and you'll be fine. It's worth noting that intentionally misrepresenting yourself will totally invalidate your policy so it's just not worth lying about. Likewise, if you're retired or a stay at home parent, tick that option instead of unemployed - you'll be better off!
8. Consider The Car
We've saved the biggest factor for last - the car you're insuring. This is the single most important thing that will be considered in a car insurance quote. There are almost countless things about a car that can have an impact on your car insurance premium, but these are the most common.
- Value - The value of your car is obviously important, as a more expensive car costs more to repair and run. Your car's value depreciates over time, so do some comparison shopping on Carzone or DoneDeal to get an accurate valuation on your car (if you write it off the insurer will do their own valuation so there's no point in over-valuing).
- Age - A newer car will be more expensive to insure for the same reasons as above - parts cost more! Similarly though, an older car is deemed more likely to be involved in an accident or break down, so your rates can go up if your car is older than 10 (many insurers won't quote at all for a 14+ year old car). The sweet spot is between 3-7 years old, based on a few online quotes we ran.
- Engine - Your engine size also plays a part here. A 1L engine is cheaper than a 1.4L, and a 1.6L will cost less to insure than a 2.0L. Any modifications such as an intercooler or any kind of tuning will shoot up the price too, and failing to declare these will invalidate your insurance.
- Security - Do you have an alarm, an immobilizer or another security feature? These will all reduce the price you pay - it might not be a lot, but all these little reductions add up.
We've tried to cover off everything in this article, but there are always other variables that aren't obvious unless they've come up as an issue for you. Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below. As always, to shop a massive range of car parts and accessories, visit our main site, MicksGarage.com! Good luck in your search!