To get started, you’ll need to provide a few details about yourself and your vehicle:
The make, model, year, approximate value, registration plate number, any modifications, any security devices and where it will be kept at night and during the day.
Your age, contact details including address, job title, and driving history, including past offences such as speeding penalties, and whether you’d like to add any other person as a named driver.
What level of coverage you’d like (third party, TPFT or fully comprehensive) or any additional coverage you’d like to add on.
You'll then be presented with quotes from a range of insurers across the market. You can sort these results by price and filter them for your desired coverage until you find the policy best suited to you. Clicking through will take you to your selected insurer’s site to fill out an application for a policy.
Car insurance can provide financial protection against damage to your vehicle and to the vehicles, property and lives of other road users. Policies pay out to cover the repair or replacement of a vehicle that has been damaged in an accident or stolen and to cover legal costs and claims for compensation related to use of your vehicle.
Unlike home and life insurance, car insurance is a legal requirement in the UK. Any vehicle driven on or simply parked on public roads must have a valid auto insurance policy providing, at minimum, third party coverage.
There are three main types of car insurance policy, providing different levels of cover:
If you’re trying to save money on your car insurance, you might consider opting for a more basic level of cover. But in fact, the premiums on third party and TPFT policies can be much higher than those for fully comprehensive policies. This is because third party and TPFT policies attract drivers who can’t qualify for fully comprehensive policies, including young motorists and those with driving convictions. As the pool of drivers using basic policies has become riskier, insurers have hiked the premiums. Therefore when you compare car insurance quotes, you’re likely to find that it’s actually cheaper for you to take out a comprehensive policy with more cover.
Basic policies which provide the minimum level of cover required by law. Third party policies pay out to cover the repair or replacement of other peoples’ vehicles and to cover any legal costs and claims for compensation resulting from property damage, injury and death. However, third party car insurance won’t cover the repair or replacement of your own vehicle following a fire, theft or accident.
Policies which provide minimum third party cover but also compensate you for the repair of your own vehicle if it’s damaged in a fire or for its replacement if it’s stolen.
Policies which cover you for all of the above but also, importantly, for any damage your car sustains in accidents at which you were at fault. Fully comprehensive policies may also provide minimum third party coverage for you whilst driving borrowed or hired vehicles. However, all policies are different so read the terms and conditions carefully.
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the average cost of a comprehensive car insurance policy is £485 a year. But premiums vary, depending on the following factors:
Younger drivers, especially those under 25, pay more.
Having driving convictions or having made a number of claims against your car insurance policy in the past will drive up your costs.
More expensive, heavier, and more high-powered cars are more likely to be stolen or involved in serious accidents and also cost more to repair and replace, increasing premiums.
Some neighbourhoods see more instances of car theft, increasing the insurance premiums of people who live there.
Insurers offer discounted premiums for people in occupations they believe are respectable (for example, teachers) and increase them for people in hazardous jobs, those who drive a lot for work (for example, travelling salespeople) and people who are unemployed.
Men are statistically more likely to be involved in road accidents than women, which is often reflected in higher premiums, especially for young drivers.
While you can’t change your age and probably don’t want to move house and change your career just to get cheaper car insurance premiums, you can take some steps to trim your costs:
When looking for a new car, select the lightest, cheapest vehicle which meets your needs, rather than springing for an expensive foreign import with a high-octane engine. Your upfront costs and fuel bills will be lower, and your insurance premiums will be cheaper too.
All car insurance policies come with an excess, which is the amount you’ll be expected to contribute to any claim. You can increase your voluntary excess to bring down your annual or monthly premiums, but don’t raise it beyond what you can comfortably afford.
Some insurers will offer you a discount if you install industry-approved security measures in your vehicle, such as alarms, immobilisers or trackers. You should also park your car in a garage and not on the street overnight if possible.
Telematics policies install a black box in your vehicle which records when and how you drive. If you drive mostly during the day and safely - accelerating steadily and taking turns cautiously - you can earn discounts on your car insurance premiums.
The more time your vehicle spends on the road, the more likely it is to be involved in an accident, increasing the risk to your insurer and thus your premiums. To cut your costs, reduce the amount you drive - perhaps by cycling or taking public transport to work and using the train for long journeys - and provide an accurate estimate of your annual mileage to your insurer.
The more policies you compare, the better the deal you’ll find. Our car insurance comparison engine makes it effortless to compare quotes from insurers across the market and to find the policy that best suits your needs, for the best price.
Drivers under 25 pay the highest insurance premiums. Specialist policies for drivers aged 17 to 25 can sometimes be cheaper or allow you to use a black box or add a parent as a named driver to reduce your premiums.
Some insurers offer specialist policies tailored to the needs of older drivers. These policies may include courtesy car cover, unlimited European cover and emergency driver cover, automatically covering a driver who gets behind the wheel to take you and your car home, or to hospital, if you’ve had a medical emergency.
These policies fit a black box into your vehicle, recording when, how and how much you drive. If you drive minimally and mostly during the day, accelerate and brake evenly, take turns cautiously and aren’t involved in any close scrapes, you can prove to your insurer that you’re a safe driver and earn discounts on your premiums.
A business car insurance policy covers a vehicle driven for work, providing coverage that meets the additional risks, including logging high mileage and using unfamiliar roads.
Classic cars cost more to repair and may be at greater risk of theft. However, they may also be driven infrequently and sit in a garage most of the time. Classic car policies meet these unique risks and offer specialised cover, including for vehicles undergoing restoration and those being displayed in car shows or participating in official races.
Also known as short-term car insurance, temporary car insurance can be taken out for as little as one day, as opposed to a standard 12-month contract. These policies are great in an emergency or if you need to borrow somebody’s car for a few days.
You can top up your car insurance policy with additional coverage for extra charges on your premiums. These include:
Breakdown cover can meet the cost of roadside assistance or of the towing of your vehicle to a garage for repair. Some policies can even cover the cost of sending a mechanic to your home if your vehicle breaks down there.
This add-on gives you a comparable vehicle to drive while yours is being repaired.
A no-claims bonus, earned by holding an auto insurance policy for years without making a claim on it, can mean significant savings on your premiums. No-claims discount protection is like an insurance policy on your no-claims bonus, allowing you to keep it intact even if you have to make a claim.
Windscreen damage is among the most common types of car maintenance problems. A small chip caused by debris from the road can escalate to a crack that requires you to repair or replace the entire windscreen. Many fully comprehensive policies include windscreen cover as standard, but if it’s not included in your policy, you might want to add it as an extra.
Yes, car insurance is a legal requirement for all vehicles using or even just parked on public roads in the UK. If you’re not driving your vehicle and it’s being stored on private property, you also have to insure it, unless you obtain a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) for it. Driving or owning a vehicle without insurance comes with steep penalties, including a £300 fixed fine and 6 points on your licence. Your vehicle can also be impounded and destroyed and if the case is taken to court, you can be fined an unlimited amount and disqualified from driving.
Insurers will often run a credit check on you when you seek out quotes, to double check your details. These credit checks are ‘soft searches’ which won’t show up on your credit history. Insurers will also typically run a credit check when you purchase a policy. If you have poor credit history, you may not be approved to pay for your car insurance policy in monthly instalments and may need to pay for the whole year upfront.
Statistically, young drivers are the most likely to be involved in traffic accidents, especially serious accidents, due to inexperience on the road and an inclination to take risks. Some young drivers prove to be very expensive for the insurance companies, which respond by hiking the premiums for all young drivers. Those under aged 25, especially newly qualified drivers, will pay the most. However, they can limit their costs by adding an experienced named driver to the policy or getting a telematics policy which records their safe driving.
Insurers will give you two options for paying for your insurance coverage: either upfront for the year or spread across 12 months. Paying monthly can make the costs more manageable, especially if your premiums are high and you don’t have several hundred pounds to spare. However, it can be more expensive in the long run and you’ll need to pass a credit check to qualify. If you have the funds at hand, insurers will generally give you a discount for paying for the year upfront.
Annual mileage is one factor that car insurance providers consider when calculating your premiums. Accurately estimating your mileage can help keep your premiums in check, but if you severely underestimate how much you drive, your claims can be rejected, and your policy invalidated. To arrive at a sound estimate, consider how much you drive in a week - your commute to work, your shopping habits, any other trips you make to socialise, see family or for hobbies. Multiply that figure by 52 and add some extra, for contingencies, to arrive at an estimated annual mileage.
In the past, driving other cars (DOC) cover came standard with fully comprehensive policies, giving you minimum third party coverage on borrowed and hired vehicles. These days DOC cover is less common, but if you’re over 25, can be added as an extra to your policy. Drivers under 25 typically can’t add on this extra, however.
To make a claim on your car insurance, you’ll first need to notify the police of the accident, damage or crime. They’ll provide you with a crime reference number that you’ll need to pass on to your insurer. When you contact your insurer - typically over the phone, using the number listed in your policy documents - you’ll also need to provide your policy number, the registration number of the vehicles involved in the incident and the details of all parties involved, including any other drivers’ names, contact information, addresses and insurance details.
Last reviewed: 19 November 2020
Next review: 19 December 2020