| Real Life Strategies for Building Wealth

Do you want to pay less for car insurance?

Yep, I do as well. Not only because I hate overpaying for anything but also because I know that when it comes to keeping costs down our best bet is to focus on what we can control.

Car ownership has much to recommend it. It allows us flexibility and comfort, it is a signature of our values and station in life and it is fun (for some). Did I mention ‘cheap’?

Nope. Car ownership is not cheap and there are many costs involved in it. Even when following all points of good practice when buying a car, this is expensive. Still, this is like having a child – buying a car is expensive but the costs pale when compared to these of keeping and running a car.

Running a car means that you have to make sure it is road worthy, take out car insurance it and have it taxed (with few exceptions). Cars break on the road (this means paying for recovery), they lose their value (or depreciate) and you have to find a place to park them. Oh, and don’t forget the petrol – apparently on average over five years Brits pay over £5,000 on fuel.

You see, car ownership, while mostly necessary, is like a black hole for money. Hence, any personal money management strategy ought to include a line on keeping the costs of car ownership down.

Let’s have a closer look at these costs?

Most costs associated with motoring are next to impossible to control.

Can you control the price of petrol? No, I didn’t think so.

Can you control when, and where, your car breaks down? No, you can’t.

There are however costs of car ownership that you can control. One of these is the cost of car insurance.

Apart from that car insurance premiums have increased substantially in the last five years. A recent study of car insurance trends carried out by MoneySuperMarket found that despite a drop in the price of car insurance in the last year, with the average cost of a fully comprehensive policy falling £70 (13%) this is still 17% higher than the cost of average insurance premiums five years ago (average of £411 to average of £483).

Keep Your Car Insurance Low Basics

There are some ‘keep your car insurance low’ basics that have been repeatedly rehashed. These are things that I hope you are already doing. If you don’t, please take stock and take measures – these can really save you hundreds of pounds on car insurance.

  • Shop around for the best, and lowest, car insurance. John does this one every year when our renewal is due and saves us a lot by, when necessary, changing provider. Insurance is a competitive business and one of the few where loyalty is not necessarily rewarded.
  • Protect your no claims bonus. This is rather self-explanatory and means that you must do all possible to protect this status.
  • Name only regular drivers on the policy. Mentioning too many drivers on your policy signals increased risk to the insurer. Include only regular drivers; you can always take out temporary insurance for the others.
  • Increase your voluntary access. Agreeing to pay more for accident repairs will bring the insurance premium down.
  • Do fewer miles. Again, this is a matter of simple arithmetic. Driving less makes it statistically less probable to have an accident.
  • Secure your car with a working alarm system. Most crime is opportunistic. Hence, alarm systems are a good ides. Thinking about it, anything that makes noise and causes distraction would do but your car can’t double up as a dog cannel.
  • Park off road preferably in your garage. If you have a garage remember that it is not for keeping all this junk you accumulate over the years. A garage is for keeping your car in it; this makes it more secure and less exposed to the elements and opportunistic crime. If you don’t have a garage you can at least park off road.

All these will save you money on car insurance; in some cases this savings are substantial.

Three Little Known Ways to Pay Less on Car Insurance

Once you’ve covered the basics, you are ready to move to the things about car insurance that few people know and use them keep insurance costs low.

Move to the country

Did you know that one of the factors affecting how much you pay for insurance is ‘population density’?

I didn’t either but it makes sense. The more people on the road the higher probability for accidents. This more than explains why the highest car insurance premiums are in parts of London.

How to use this knowledge to your wallet’s advantage?

Move to the country.

(Feel I ought to make a disclaimer here. There is no way I could leave the city and relocate to the country – too many cows and too few coffee bars. I do accept, however, that I’ll pay higher car insurance premium. I wish I weren’t such urbanite.)

Move to an area with less crime

Another thing I didn’t realise is that the level of fraud also affects the cost of car insurance.

Apparently in cities like Birmingham, Manchester and Bradford claiming car insurance is a business for some of the ‘organised’ crime. Hence, staged car accidents and/or crashing in innocent victims is a relatively common occurrence.

Insurance companies know that and charge higher premiums where there is history of insurance fraud.

It may be worth taking into account this when moving house next.

Use technology to demonstrate driving competence

After all, the more competent driver you are, the less likely it is that you’d have an accident.

Insurers have started using technology to monitor your driving and gauge your driving competence. Many have started using blackbox policies where they install a telematics system to monitor your driving.

This monitors your speed, how aggressively you accelerate and brake and whether you are on the road at ‘dangerous’ times.

Some insurers offer an upfront discount to drivers willing to take out a telematics policy.

Worth considering. Especially of you are a recently qualified driver and have no track record and no claims bonus.

Finally…

There are no two ways about it: if you drive a car you need to pay for car insurance. You don’t need to over-pay for it though.

There are well known ways to pay less on car insurance like shop around, look after your car and make sure it is locked and alarmed. These are about your behaviour.

There are also little known ways to pay less on car insurance like leave the big city, live in an area with low(er) fraud and crime and make use of technology to prove driving competence. These are about your life choices.

Using both can saving hundreds of pounds on car insurance.

How often do you change your car insurance provider? How do you keep your car insurance costs low?

photo credit: Drriss & Marrionn Palmer – 1956 Mercury Montclair coupe via photopin (license)