Just as every driver needs car insurance, every driver also knows how annoying it can be to organise. Renewing your insurance can quickly become a headache, especially if you’re just a casual driver who doesn’t use a car more than once or twice a week. Even though some people will skip out on paying for it altogether (like the 25,000 learners driving without insurance), car insurance is one of those things that you really can’t afford not to have.
For one thing, it’s a legal requirement to have at least basic third-party insurance. On top of this, there are a number of things in the wonderful world of car insurance that may take you by surprise. Here, we’ll go through everything you thought you knew about car insurance, but actually didn’t.
‘Fully comp’ might not always be the most expensive
The highest level of insurance you can get is known as fully comprehensive, or fully comp. This protects against vandalism and theft, as well as covering you, your car, and any passengers, property, and third-parties involved in an accident.
In comparison, basic third-party car insurance only pays for any damage you cause to other people in an accident. The middle ground of car insurance is known as third-party, fire, and theft, or TPFT insurance, which—as the name suggests—covers the same things as third-party plus fire and theft.
With fully comp insurance, your car is covered for any damage, even if you are at fault. In some cases, this level of insurance will even cover you if you drive someone else’s car, or if you hire a car to drive abroad.
You might think this means that fully comp will be the most expensive insurance option, but that’s not always the case. High-risk drivers tend to stick with third-party cover only to keep their insurance costs as low as possible, which means that there are now a higher number of claims against these policies. This has increased the cost of third-party cover so insurance providers can cover the payout costs. It’s always worth comparing prices to get the best deal, just in case you can find a fully comp package that actually works out cheaper than third party cover.
Short-term drivers can get temporary car insurance
Annual car insurance policies don’t work for some drivers. This is particularly true of students, who only drive their parents’ cars when they’re home from university in the summer. Many insurance providers offer short-term car insurance to help these customers. One provider, Cuvva, even offer temporary car insurance by the hour, at affordable rates perfect for students who might be coming back home for the weekend. This covers any driver only while they need to be covered, at an average daily cost of £37.80—far more affordable than a year’s coverage.
Temporary car insurance works the same way as every other form of car insurance, and will usually be fully comprehensive for extra peace of mind. However, it’s worth noting that with any kind of insurance you buy, the price can depend on how long you’ve been driving for, previous insurance claims, and how many points there are on your license.
All vehicle owners must be insured, even if they barely drive
People who drive somebody else’s car infrequently may be able to get temporary car insurance, but thanks to the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) law, anyone who owns a vehicle must always be insured, even when they are not driving. The rule still applies if someone else drives a vehicle you own.
Anyone who owns a vehicle that they take on the roads must have at least basic insurance or they will face a £100 fixed penalty, court prosecution, and having their vehicle impounded or even destroyed. There are some exceptions to this rule though, including motor traders and owners who officially declare their vehicles as off the road. See the government’s page on CIE for more information.
Insurance prices increase on the weekend
There are lots of different ways you can save money on your car insurance quote, but perhaps the best tip is to buy your insurance on a weekday. Because the insurance industry is driven by supply and demand, prices fluctuate depending on the market. On weekends, more people have time to sort out their car insurance, which increases demand. Insurers therefore drive up their prices to match this. Get a deal by searching through policies on weekdays, when fewer people will be searching and comparing.
It’s also a good idea to avoid renewing in December, as this can also lead to more expensive car insurance. According to GoCompare, the price of insurance fluctuates wildly during this period, as most insurers try to get their business in order by the end of the year.
Insurance companies take everything into account
Because they’re going to be potentially paying if you get into an accident, insurance providers will investigate as much as they can before offering an insurance quote, including social media posts. One of the UK’s biggest insurance companies, Admiral, launched the Firstcarquote initiative, which sought to help insurers decide how to price up car insurance based on how trustworthy and reliable the applicant was online. However, it was swiftly pulled, following heavy consumer backlash.
While insurance companies will no longer look at your social media profiles to judge the price of your policy, they might use them to verify any claims you’ve put through. This is something companies such as Axa did when it caught out a motorist posting pictures of himself at the gym after he claimed he had damaged his neck and back following a crash. He was then ordered to pay over £13,000 to Axa, and was added to the Insurance Fraud Register.
When getting a quote for your car insurance, even your job title and career isn’t out of reach. Make sure you use a job title that lowers premiums. Describing yourself as “chef” over “kitchen staff” could leave you paying more, while “construction workers” pay more than “builders” who pay more than “bricklayers”. Make sure you know exactly what your job title is, so you don’t wind up needlessly paying more for your car insurance.
While car insurance is one of those confusing parts of life that everyone just gets along with, getting a better understanding the industry can help you save money on your premiums, and ensure you get the deal you deserve.