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Car Insurance Guide
Most kinds of insurance are optional, but car insurance is one of the few that is required by law. If a car is driven on the road, it must have car insurance according to UK law. The only exception is if a car has a Statutory Off-Road Notice, which means that by law the car can't be driven on the road, but also doesn't require insurance.
Types of Car Insurance
UK car insurance comes in three main categories:
Third party: This is the minimum legal requirement for car insurance. It's a basic form of insurance that covers the costs of any damage incurred while driving. For example, if a driver is in an accident with another car, the at-fault driver is liable for damage to the other person's car, and for any medical expenses they incur as a result of the accident. Note, however, that the insurance does not cover the costs of damage to the car belonging to the driver who is deemed at fault.
Third party, fire, and theft: This is similar to third party insurance, but also covers the cost of replacing a car if it's stolen or damaged in a fire.
Comprehensive cover: Provides everything as above, but also covers costs for repairing the car belonging to an at-fault driver.
Depending on the insurer and the policy, the driver may be covered when driving other cars, including hired cars. Some policies also allow the policyholder to name other drivers to be covered when driving their car.
Car insurance providers offer coverage for a wide range of special groups, including older and younger drivers and others. For example:
- Younger drivers typically pay higher premiums, because this demographic tends to get in more accidents. As a result, for drivers under 25 it may be worthwhile to get a policy targeted to this age group.
- Older drivers over the age of 50 may also benefit from getting a specialist policy.
- Poor driving record: It's typically difficult for people with poor driving records, to get affordable insurance. Choosing a specialist insurance provider can help with this.
- Business and commercial drivers typically need specialist insurance.
These options add convenience, but will increase the cost of insurance:
- Breakdown cover provides roadside assistance when the policyowner's car breaks down.
- Legal expenses are covered if they arise as a result of compensation claims made as a result of a vehicle-related accident.
- Windscreen cover is typically included in comprehensive policies but can be purchased as an add on for third party cover.
Car Insurance Groups
Car insurance groups are what insurance providers use to determine a driver's basic premium level. Insurance groups are numbered from 1 to 50, and each make and model of car is categorised into a specific group based on a wide range of factors. The lower a car's group, the lower the driver's premiums tend to be. Factors that affect the group a car is in could include its price, performance level, the cost and availability of spare parts, and the average time required for repairs.
In order to compare car insurance online, it could be good to look at a number of different factors to get the best prices and the best level of coverage. A person could start by comparing like with like, as well as comparing different kinds of policies. For example, comparing third party policies from various insurers, and also comparing the different policy levels offered by the same insurer. Making the comparison this way may make it easy to see what the best deals are. Sometimes, depending on the car the driver's personal circumstances, comprehensive cover might be almost as cheap as third party insurance.
Minimising Premium Costs
One possible way to get cheap car insurance could be by owning a car in one of the lowest premium groups. This typically means owning a newer car. When it comes to calculating premiums, insurance groups may not be the full story, however. Insurance companies might use other information, such as age, gender, and driving record, when they calculate premiums. Home address could also taken into consideration; for example, if a driver lives in a high-crime area, they might pay more as insurers consider the car more likely to be damaged or stolen.
Some ways to reduce premium costs might include:
- Drivers that avoid making claims may benefit from a premium discount; the discount typically gets higher with consecutive claim-free years.
- The no-claims discount may often be transferred to a new insurance provider if a driver finds a better deal elsewhere.
- The no-claims discount doesn't necessarily prevent an insurer from increasing premium costs. It's a discount applied to whatever the premium is, so the premium could increase even if the discount remains the same.
- Most policies have two separate excess amounts. One is set by the insurer and is an integral part of the policy. The second is one that the driver may set themselves. To reduce their premium a driver could opt to set this excess higher, but it does mean they tend to pay more out of pocket if they have to make a claim. And since the excess has a mandatory per-policy component, there could be an excess to pay on every claim regardless of how high the voluntary excess is set.
- Car modifications of any kind could result in a premium increase, so it may be good idea for a driver to check with their insurer before adding any mods.
- Paying premiums annually rather than monthly could reduce the cost significantly.