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Car insurance quotes are calculated using a string of factors - some simple for you to change, some you can’t easily control - including your age, years of driving experience and where you live. But that doesn't mean there aren't ways to get a cheaper car insurance quote and save quite a lot. Read our 10 tips to getting cheap car insurance.
The first thing to do is to check what other providers will offer you using our insurance comparison tool - that way you can see if your provider is offering you a competitive deal.
Read the Key Features document for policies you are considering to ensure that it also offers all of the right coverage for you, so it pays out when you need it.
If you are renewing your car insurance, it helps to shop around - about three weeks ahead of time ideally - seen and go back to your current insurer and ask them to beat the best quote you find.
Paying car insurance in full for the whole year up front, instead of in monthly instalments, can save you money as you won't be charged interest on them..
Are you paying for add-ons you don’t need or that are covered by other insurance? Could you get separate breakdown or legal cover cheaper elsewhere?
There are 50 car insurance groups. Cars are allocated to a group based largely on how much they will cost to repair — more than half the money paid out in motor insurance claims is for repairs. The higher the car insurance group number, the higher the insurance costs are likely to be. High-performance, expensive cars will find themselves in a high insurance group, while small cars with small engines will be in the lowest insurance groups. How do insurance groups work?Read our full guide
Is a black box device right for you? Learn about how black box devices work and policy types that could help you to save on your car insurance.
Do you know what extras you can add on to your car insurance policy and what they include? Our guide explains common add-ons and what they cover.
You might assume that third party car insurance is cheaper than a fully comprehensive policy, but this isn't always the case. Find out why and see examples.
We've answered common car insurance questions to help you understand what you need and to decide what car insurance is best for you.
What job you do affects your car insurance premium. Find out why your occupation and job title count when insurers set your premium and which jobs qualify for cheaper car insurance.
There are many factors affecting car insurance that you can’t easily control, such as your age, years of driving experience and where you live. But if you’re serious about saving on your car insurance a few simple steps can save you plenty. 1. Choose your car carefully The type of car you drive can make a huge difference to the cost of your car insurance.Read our full guide
Last updated: April 30, 2021
Some insurers have given customers rebates because they have used their car less during the pandemic. If you need to drive to work, or for work, when you would otherwise have used public transport, tell your insurer.
If your mileage has significantly changed as a result of the pandemic, you should inform your insurer too - you might get a discount or a reduction on future premiums if you pay monthly - however there could also be an administration charge for making the change.
The Association of British Insurers said that standard social, domestic and pleasure car insurance would cover those who temporarily need to drive to work or for volunteer efforts until April 30. That exemption has now expired.
That means if you have changed the use of your car, you need to tell your insurance provider.
Car insurance is required by law (you have to have at least third party insurance) to drive in the UK to protect others involved in an accident you might cause, rather than to protect you and your car.
There are also higher levels of cover and several add-ons that mean you can protect yourself against financial loss in the case of accidents, theft and more.
For a fee, called a premium, your car is usually insured for a year and must then be renewed. Insurance companies offer different levels of cover to help reduce these costs, and offer discounts for careful drivers who have never claimed.
Car insurance is mandatory so that the victims of accidents can be compensated without expensive legal cases. Car insurance covers injury to passengers, pedestrians and cyclists and damage to their vehicles or property.
Car insurance is compulsory if you drive, or park, your car on public roads. You face fines, penalty points on your licence and your car being seized, crushed and scrapped if you fail to buy car insurance.
In the five years to 2018 there has been an annual average of 122,000 road traffic accidents reported in England according to data from the Office for National Statistics. In 2018, nearly 123,000 vehicles were involved in accidents on British roads.
If you have a car without car insurance it is likely you’ll be found out. Even if you own a car but don’t drive it, you need insurance unless you have somewhere on private property to park it and declare with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) a statutory off road notification.
The Department of Transport believes there are around 1.5 million uninsured drivers on UK roads and in 2018 more than 79,000 of them were caught. A fine of £300 is the norm, unless it’s a severe case and is taken to court, where much higher fines can be ordered. Similarly, six penalty points on the driving licence is standard, but courts can order the driver to be disqualified.
The Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) was established in 1948 and its key activity, through its Motor Insurance Database (MID) is to identify uninsured drivers. Every car insurance underwriter is obliged – under the 1988 Road Traffic Act – to be a member of the MIB and contribute to its funding.
There are three basic types of car insurance sold in the UK.
Third party, fire and theft
Third party only
Often called "fully comprehensive", or just "fully comp", this type of car insurance offers the broadest level of cover. Not only does it cover your liability to other parties in an accident you caused, it also covers damage to your vehicle.
There are hundreds of car insurers in the UK and their comprehensive policies will differ in a hundred ways. One company may even offer several different comprehensive polices, with some being more comprehensive than others. When choosing an insurance policy, look carefully at what benefits they offer as standard under their comprehensive cover plans.
Comprehensive insurance is often not more expensive than lower levels of cover.
Sometimes shortened to TPFT, this covers your liability requirements to other parties involved in an accident you caused – such as injury costs, vehicle damage and compensation claims. But it also provides you cover – up to the value of the vehicle – should your car be stolen, or damaged in a fire.
It will not cover you for damage to your vehicle or personal injury to yourself in an accident with another vehicle. If your car is damaged or you and your passengers are injured and it was not your fault, any claims will be made to the insurer of the person who caused the accident (the liable party).
This is the most basic type of cover that is offered in the UK, and it is not offered by all insurance companies. It provides cover only for your liabilities to other parties involved in an accident you caused. It is sometimes more expensive than comprehensive car insurance.
You will also need to tell your insurer what you use your car for as this also affects the cover you need. The options include:
social, domestic and pleasure – the basic cover for personal use
commuting – to one place of work (or to the station each day to get the train to work)
business use – varying levels depending on whether you visit different workplaces, or clients and work sites and what you carry with you
commercial use – using your car as a key part of your job
Each of these uses adds a little to your premium. You must only use your car for the purposes outlined to your insurer, otherwise you are technically driving uninsured and may be fined, given penalty and have your car crushed.
In very simple terms, insurers calculate the likely risk of accidents and how much they might have to pay out for each accident. They set the premiums to cover that. Insurers then invest all your premiums until they have to pay out.
In an ideal year, the total they had to pay out handling claims would be less than the total they received in premiums. But car insurers often pay out more than they received in premiums. Second best is if the total of premiums and the investment income that year is more than the amount paid in claims.
In reality, car insurance often makes a loss. Fierce competition and ever-increasing claims costs see to that. But many insurers also sell cheap to get you as a customer and they hope to sell you more lucrative and profitable products.
There are basically two types of insurance businesses – brokers and underwriters – although many now act in both capacities.
A broker is a commercial entity that works as an agent selling insurance policies from other companies. The broker may be the representative of just one company, or may sell policies on behalf of several insurers.
Brokers are responsible for commercial activities, such as promotion and winning new clients, as well as servicing the needs of policyholders – dealing with queries and claims. Traditionally brokers worked on behalf of the client but regulation means the term has much broader definition now.
At the highest end are Chartered Insurance Brokers.
Underwriters are more usually companies, but can be a single person or consortium, whose responsibility it is to assess the risk factors behind insuring someone’s property or liabilities. Based on these risk factors, they then work out the cost of the policy – the premium.
In the context of car insurance many underwriters now have their own brokers, so in essence the brokerage and underwriting business is all under one roof.
And in the modern era of insurance, most car insurance underwriting decisions are now made instantly as all the risk factors are run through a computer algorithm that sets the premium.
When you search for car insurance quotes on Uswitch you will see a range from both insurers and brokers and you may see different premiums from what appears to be the same company.
Simply put: the bigger the risk, the bigger the premium. Drivers who are statistically more likely to make a claim on their car insurance policies, or who will make more expensive claims, pay a higher premium.
The premium is the price you pay for your insurance policy. Insurance companies pool together all the premiums from all their policyholders and this forms the pot from which all subsequent claims are settled.
It is also known as a "risk premium", because it is based on various factors that the underwriter considers you pose as a risk to making an insurance claim.
The insurance company does not want you to make a claim – it wants to keep that pool of premiums for itself. So, given the opportunity, it would sooner just insure careful drivers who have never had an accident. But it accepts that statistically, even the most careful drivers sometimes make mistakes.
Car insurers gather data from your online quote application about the car to be insured and the person, or people, who will be driving it. Remember, you must be honest about all the answers on your quote application otherwise your policy will be invalid.
How powerful the car is – the faster your car is capable of moving, the faster you are likely to drive and the more damage you can potentially do if you do crash.
Annual mileage – statistically, the further and more frequently you drive your car, the more likely you are to have an accident in it.
Car usage – standard policy cover is for social, domestic and pleasure (SDP). Add commuting to this (SDPC), and your premium goes up, as it is assumed that you’ll be driving more often and at the busiest times of day. A further class may be needed if you travel in your car as part of your business – (SDPC + business).
Age and experience – the younger and more inexperienced the driver, the greater the premium.
Male or female – women are statistically less likely to make a car insurance claim. Driving offences – drink driving, speeding, uninsured – involve more men than women. When women do claim, the cost of repairs and personal injury payments are also generally lower than for men. While an EU gender directive in 2011 ruled that price discrimination based on gender breached rules on equality, women continue to pay – on average – lower premiums than men.
Occupation – some occupations are considered more risky than others.
Previous convictions – Driving bans, endorsements or points on your licence mean the premium will be higher. Prison terms for non-driving offences can also negatively impact the premium.
Health issues – some underlying health issues, such as strokes, must be declared and can possibly affect your premium.
Previous claims – if you can prove that you’ve never claimed on a policy, you’ll get a cheaper quote. This benefit is called the "no claims discount", or "no claims bonus".
Location – some areas are considered a greater risk than others. Cities remain the most expensive places to insure a car as much of the risk assessment is based on local crime rates.
Where you park – a more secure the parking location will generally give a little discount off the premium.
Some insurers favour certain kinds of driver or car or even location over other. Insurers also use different risk factors - with some even including your email provider in their assessment, as well as how far ahead of your renewal you search for quotes.
That means getting a second quote a week later may change the premium quoted from the same insurer, even if everything else is the same.
Of all the risk factors mentioned above, underwriters consider youth and inexperience to be the riskiest. The Consumer Intelligence car insurance price index for March 2020, calculates the average price for premiums for drivers below the age of 25 is £1,795. This compares with the overall average premium of £829 and an average of £402 for over 50s.
The good news is, that premiums can come down rapidly as you demonstrate year-upon-year of careful driving with no claims on your policy.
There are also an increasing number of insurers offering telematics – or "black box" – insurance schemes that offer rewards for careful young drivers. The Consumer Intelligence car insurance price index suggests 61% of the cheapest quotes for under 25s were telematics products. Visit our special page for more information on black box insurance.
You are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident and make a claim so the higher your annual mileage, the more your premium is likely to cost.
It is important to be as accurate as you can when calculating your annual mileage on your insurance quote. Look on your car service and MOT records – they should give an accurate account of your mileage in the last year.
There is a greater volume of traffic and some areas within cities have higher levels of crime.
The most expensive city to live in is London, where the average car insurance premium is £1,269. Next it’s the north-west, with big cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, with an average premium of £1,073. Here’s the full round up of regional averages from the 2020 Consumer Intelligence car insurance price index:
East midlands: £906
West midlands: £888
Yorkshire and the Humber: £778
South east: £662
North east: £648
East of England: £619
South west: £601
Third party only insurance covers only your basic liabilities in the event of injury or damage caused to other people’s property when you have an accident in your car. Third party, fire and theft has the additional cover for if your vehicle is stolen or involved in a fire.
Comprehensive insurance comes with a wide range of extra benefits, making the premium pricier than the alternatives. Here’s what a typical comprehensive cover plan might look like:
24-hour helpline – to help get you moving if you’re stranded following an accident, and to help get your claim started
Loss or damage – cost of repairs to a damaged vehicle or cost of replacement if the vehicle is stolen and not recovered, or damaged beyond repair
Personal accident cover – to cover your, or your passengers' emergency medical expenses or specialist treatment following injury in an accident
Legal liability – cover for injuries or death to other people in an accident you caused in your vehicle
Courtesy car – provision of a free replacement car while yours is being repaired, usually up to around 21 days
Repairs guarantee – any repairs following an accident are guaranteed for five years if carried out by a repair shop approved by the insurer
Driving abroad – most insurers will offer comprehensive cover for driving in Europe up to a certain number of days during the policy's life
These usually come as standard in comprehensive car insurance plans, but shop around for the best deals. Here are some additional benefits that might either be included in your policy as standard, or available as add-ons for an additional premium:
Additional legal cover or personal injury cover – legal or personal injury costs not covered by the policy, can be added on. These might include recovering the legal costs for a compensation claim or defending you in court against a claim
Misfuelling cover – this covers the cost of draining your tank if you fill up with the wrong fuel, getting your engine started and providing enough of the right fuel to get you to the next filling station
Key cover – if you lose your keys, or they are stolen or damaged, they will be replaced or retrieved if locked in your car
Breakdown cover – if you are not already a member of a breakdown service, this additional cover will get you going, or get you and your vehicle to somewhere safe
Once you’re covered by a comprehensive insurance plan you can make a claim direct from your own insurer in the event of an accident, damage to your car by vandalism, or if it is stolen or otherwise destroyed beyond repair. A claim is simply what the insurer will pay you back for the loss that is covered under the policy.
Check your policy to see what is covered – all comprehensive policies differ in the benefits offered.
If you are in an accident and it wasn’t your fault, your insurer will be aiming to claim back its expenses from the other driver’s insurance company, so make sure you do everything you can to prove liability. Here’s a checklist of what to do:
Take photos of the scene
Exchange names and policy details with other drivers involved – if they are reluctant to do so, they can be traced through their vehicle number plate
Get the names and addresses of any independent witnesses
If the police are called ask for a copy of any report or police statement
Tell your insurance company about the accident right away
Most insurance companies now have a claims telephone line and they will take you step by step through the claims process.
If the accident is not your fault, take all the steps to make a claim, and then contact the insurer of the other driver, giving them details of the accident, witness statements, and the policy details of the driver at fault.
If the accident was your fault, you have no claim. You must still tell your insurer.
Data from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) – an organisation that aims to expose uninsured drivers and help compensate victims of them – believes there are around one million uninsured cars on the road in the UK, costing honest drivers higher premiums to help the industry mitigate the costs.
If the driver of the other vehicle is reluctant to give any details about their name, address and insurance cover, it’s likely they are not covered. Tell the police straight away, as failure to give insurance information is a criminal offence.
Make sure you get as many details as you can – car registration, make model. Take photos of the scene if possible. Tell your insurance company immediately – they can check the MIB’s Motor Insurance Database (MID) to see if the vehicle is insured.
If you have comprehensive cover, your insurer will pay out – even though it will be unable to recover costs from the other party. If you only have a third party policy, you cannot claim through your insurer, but you might receive some compensation through the MIB – though this process can take many months.
If the accident was not your fault and your insurance company can recover your claim from the other driver’s insurer, your no-claims discount should be protected.
You are likely to lose some of it, however, if you make a claim on your insurance for damage or injury sustained in an incident that was your fault, or if any third party successfully claims against your insurance company. Typically, your no claims discount is reduced by two years if you have to make a claim.
Some car insurance policies offer no claims discount protection – mostly at an additional premium. This could allow you to claim up to two times within one year without reducing your no claims discount.
Based on Mintel's March 2020 Motor Insurance report, the total size of the UK car insurance market was £12.7bn in gross written premiums in 2019. The UK’s 10 biggest car insurers controlled nearly 92% of that market. They are as follows:
Admiral – which also sells insurance through its Bell, Elephant and Gladiator brands has a market share of 18.9% based on £2.4bn in gross written premiums
Direct Line – trading under parent company UK Insurance, and together with its Churchill and Privilege lines has a 13.2% market share based on £1.67bn in gross written premiums
Aviva – has a 12.2 % market share based on £1.55bn in gross written premiums
LV= – which also owns Britannia Rescue, Highway Insurance and Frizzell, has a 9.8% market share on £1.25bn in gross written premiums
Ageas – has a market share of 8.3% after £1.05bn in gross written premiums
Hastings – and its InsurePink and People's Choice brands owns a 7.2% market share based on £920m in gross written premiums
Markerstudy – which owns Zentih and includes the Geoffrey brand, reported £823m of motor GWP, representing 6.5% of the market
Esure – which also owns Sheilas' Wheels, has a 6.1% market share after £770m in gross written premiums
Axa – has a share of the market 5.9% based on £750m in gross written premiums
RSA – formerly Royal & Sun Alliance also sells insurance through its More Than brand and underwrites policies for Ingenie, has a 5.9% market share on £750m gross written premiums
The type of work you do changes how you use your car and what you carry in it.
For example, a music teacher might pay more than a primary school teacher because they are more likely to be carrying an expensive instrument with them making theft claims higher.
Some jobs carry such high risks insurers simply won't offer fully comprehensive polices - for example a Premier League footballer hurt in a crash, possibly with team mates as passengers at the time, could result in a multi-million pound claim on their insurance.
It's illegal to lie on your car insurance form, but if there are several options that you can accurately describe yourself as, it might be worth seeing if one offers a cheaper car insurance premium and selecting that.
Car insurance claims can run into the millions where people have been seriously, and permanently, injured. That leaves the insurance firm paying out not just to cover modifications to their home, but to cover care costs and replace lost earnings for the rest of their lives too.
The biggest car insurance claim when it comes to repairs we know of was paid to Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson after he crashed his McLaren F1 sports car. He was paid £1.14m and the damage to the car was so severe it took mechanics and body shop specialists at McLaren a year to put right.
In terms of a single incident, claims from the victims of the Selby rail crash and their families cost insurer Fortis and its reinsurers around £50m in total costs. The crash happened in 2001 when a Land Rover plunged down a railway embankment from the M62 on to the East Coast Main Line near the North Yorkshire town of Selby, causing two trains to derail.
Car insurance has been around in the UK almost as long as there have been cars. The first car insurance policies were written in the late 1890s, with Scottish Employers Liability Company known to be among the first to cover against personal accident, damage and third party motor risks.
It became mandatory to insure your motor vehicle under the 1930 Road Traffic Act, which – as well as abolishing all speed limits for cars – introduced such offences as dangerous and careless driving.
Today, the law is regulated under the Road Traffic Act 1988 and requires motorists to either be insured or to deposit £500,000 with the Accountant General of the Supreme Court against liability for injury to others and for damage caused to their property.
The UK insurance industry is supported by the Association of British Insurers, which is more than 200 members strong and was formed in 1985 to represent the industry in public policy and regulatory debates, as well as promoting UK insurers at home and overseas.
Thatcham Research, a car insurance industry body launched in 1969, provides the joint ABI and Lloyd’s Group Rating Panel which establishes the insurance group of every private car registered in the UK.