Drive down your car insurance costs

By Martin Lewis, October 22, 2012
Follow The JC on Twitter

Due to a new equality law that comes into play in December, many women face huge car insurance hikes, some as high as £2,000. Yet there is still time to beat it — just.

On 21 December, the European Court of Justice gender equalisation ruling gcomes into effect. From that date, insurers are not permitted to discriminate by offering different prices based on whether someone is a man or woman — gender is no longer a factor. So, all other things being equal, you would pay the same.
The current situation however, is far from that. According to Gocompare, at the end of August, men paid an average £315 — or 41 per cent — more than women. Men under 20 paid up to £2,000 more, as young women drivers have a far better safety record than their stereotypical boy-racer equivalents.

No one knows for sure what will happen, even now, although we have known about this ruling for over a year. This is because insurers are playing a waiting game to spot what their competitors will do — so they can nip in and gain advantage one way or the other.
It is possible men’s prices could drop to that of women’s (fat chance). More likely, women will face monumental hikes and men’s come down a touch.

Act now to beat it
The younger you are, the more this is likely to have a full-scale price catastrophe impact, as this is where the biggest differences are. Under-35s are likely to be affected and under-25s, hit hard.

If your renewal is due now, great
Ensure you get a cheap policy that effectively locks in at current discriminated prices for a year.
However, if your renewal date is closer to the law coming into effect, you are at risk. This isn’t a case of all change on 21 December — insurers can bring it in, or at least start to move prices in that direction, earlier. The one way out is to consider whether you can cancel your current policy and sign up for a new 12-month one now. Many providers, if you haven’t claimed, will refund you for the part of the policy that is unused. However, they will probably charge an early exit fee, and it is also worth bearing in mind that you are unlikely to get a no-claims bonus for that year. So before you do anything, it is worth checking to see what the score is.

If there are costs to cancelling, then it is a punt as to whether it is worth it or not. There are no hard or fast rules here. The best thing is try to find a better value policy than what you currently have that can cover these early leaving fees.

Compare to find the best car insurance deal
If you don’t have an unusual insurance history, the easy way to get a cheap price is by using comparison sites. Yet do not just look at one, combine a few, as they don’t all search the same companies. This way you get a wider spread of quotes without adding much time.
My current top three for range are: MoneySupermarket.com, Confused.com and TescoCompare.com. If you have an atypical situation, consider getting one-on-one help from an insurance broker.

Check the biggies that comparisson sites miss
Not all insurers are on comparison sites: the two most notable exclusions are Aviva and Direct Line.
Plus, if you are in a home with more than one car, it is worth also checking out the Admiral MultiCar policy as comparison sites can’t factor that in.

Add in a responsible second driver
If you are a young driver, see if you can cut the cost by adding a second driver to your policy, even if they will rarely drive the car.
As it reduces the average risk, it can cut your cost. It won’t always work, but it can make a big difference.

Third party is not always the cheapest option
Counter-logically you may pay more as opting for lesser third-party cover can statistically indicate to insurers that you are a higher risk. So don’t assume it is the cheapest option — check comprehensive prices too.

Consider in-car telematics policies
Young drivers who are struggling to get cheap insurance using the techniques above could also try telematics, where your driving is monitored by a box in the car, and your insurance price reflects this.
For a full rundown of these, see www.moneysavingexpert.com/U25carinsurance.

Check for cashback
Once you have found your cheapest deal, see if you can also get some cashback on it via a cashback website such as Topcashback.co.uk or Quidco.com to bring the cost down further.

    Last updated: 9:00am, October 22 2012