Five 'must-knows' for young drivers seeking cheap cover
The thrill of passing your driving test and those dreams of hitting the open road can soon disappear when you realise that you live closer to the A66 than Route 66 - and that the roads are just as likely to be closed as they are open.
And then you work out how much your annual car insurance premium is going to cost - and wonder if you'll be able to make it onto the roads at all. For example, after running a sample quote for an 18-year-old male student it was found that he could pay anything upward of £2,446.44 to insure a Ford Fiesta, covering just 6,000 miles per year.
However, if you are a young, newly qualified driver, you don't necessarily have to pay several times' the value of your car just to get it insured. There are a number of ways in which you can keep premium prices down.
Here, we take a look at five things you need to know when looking for cheap car insurance...
1. Shop around and compare quotes
It may sound obvious, but shopping around for your car insurance is one of the most straightforward ways to reduce the price of your annual premium and by using MoneySupermarket's comparison tool you can instantly compare quotes from over 100 insurers.
A quick look at some sample quotes shows just how much results can vary for the same driver. A quote for an 18-year-old male student driving a 2006 Ford Fiesta could be anywhere between £2,446.44 with Insure the Box, and £3,705.63 with People's Choice. Both are pricey but that's still huge difference of £1,259 pocketed just by a few minutes spent online.
Women looking to buy car insurance before the EU gender directive takes effect in December this year, can still make even bigger savings. Sample quotes run for an 18-year-old female student, driving a 2006 Ford Fiesta show prices between £1,658.06 with Hasting's Smart Miles and £2,204.60 with Diamond.
The fact that the most expensive quote for an 18-year-old female is still significantly less than the cheapest quote for an 18-year-old male shows just how much of a difference gender still makes.
But neither sex should stop there as there are a number of other ways to bring down the costs even further.
2. Buy the right car
The above quotes were run for a 2006 Ford Fiesta - and the car you drive, its model and engine size, is a major factor in deciding the cost of your car insurance. If you're a young driver with little experience, less is definitely more.
That's not to say that you have to pull up to your university campus in something like the yellow Fiat Cinquecento driven by Simon in The Inbetweeners, but then neither should you set your sights on that Subaru Impreza either.
Things to consider when choosing a car are that it should have a small engine (below 1200cc if possible) and should come with minimum specification - so no body kits, alloys or souped-up sound systems as these will all add to the price of your premium.
And even though your car probably won't be so desirable to thieves without any of these things, you should still fit it with an insurer-approved alarm and immobiliser and try to keep the car parked on a driveway or in a garage overnight.
3. Add an older named driver
It would be fair to assume that adding another driver to the policy would only push the price of your annual premium up. But actually, if you add an older more experienced driver such as a parent, it's an easy way to bring down the cost.
If we take a look at some more sample quotes, you can see how big a part age plays in the calculation of car insurance policies. For instance, a 28-year-old male driving that 2006 Ford Fiesta would be quoted prices between £320.57 and £447.09, while a 38-year-old male driving the same car could get his annual insurance from just £274.15.
And, once again, it's even less for females as a 28-year-old female would be quoted between £290.38 and £353.06 while a 38-year-old female could get a year's cover for just £274.15 year.
As well as age, each of these older drivers had five years' no claims discount (NCD) and this also makes a significant difference to the cost of cover; so the sooner you take out your own policy, the sooner you will start to accumulate your own NCD.
If you're looking to take out a policy before December 21, 2012, when the EU gender directive kicks in, then it could be worthwhile adding a female as a named driver to the policy as this could net you even greater savings. For more information on why this is the case read my article, here.
However, there may be a temptation to put one of your parents as the main driver and yourself as the named driver to get a cheaper quote but you should not do this under any circumstances.
This is known as 'fronting' which will not only invalidate your policy, it is also against the law and you could be charged with insurance fraud.
Another thing to consider is that if you are currently the named driver on your parents' policy but are taking a car away to university then you will have to declare yourself as the named driver and change the details on the policy to cover your new address.
It may not be at the top of your priority list but it will need to be done before you leave.
4. Consider a Telematics policy
Telematics insurance, also known as pay-as-you-drive insurance, is a type of insurance that is designed to base premium prices on individual driving style and habits rather than the traditional method of pigeonholing certain drivers into certain categories.
How it works is that insurers fit a small device to your car that allows them to monitor when and where you drive and also assess your driving style and, as long as you're sensible and considerate and don't cover a large amount of miles each year, it could save you a significant amount on your premium price.
For instance, in a recent case study, we found that a 20-year-old driver had his renewal price cut from £2,700 to just £790 in two years.
So, although you may not like the 'Big Brother' feeling of having your driving monitored, if big savings can be made in such a short space of time then it is definitely worth considering.
5. Become a better driver
When you have passed your driving test, the last thing you want to do is go out and have more lessons but you could cut your insurance costs further by taking the Driving Standards Agency Pass Plus Course.
The Pass Plus course can be taken within one year of passing your test and involves you driving under instruction on different types of roads such as in town, on rural roads, dual carriageways and motorways and in all weather conditions (where possible) as well as at night.
The course takes six hours, so will most likely be split into six, one-hour blocks, and fees vary depending upon the driving instructor or driving school you choose.
Once you have completed your training you will be sent a Pass Plus certificate which should enable you to claim a further discount on your car insurance policy.
For more information on the Pass Plus course, click here.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.