Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Drive Down Your Motor Insurance

Young drivers are finding it increasingly difficult to get affordable car insurance as costs continue to rocket.

Over the past two years, premiums for those aged between 17 and 22 have risen, on average, by 80 per cent, according to AA Insurance, while findings from Confused.com show that the average 17 to 20-year-old male now pays a massive £4,006 a year for comprehensive cover.

“The number of crashes on Britain’s roads is falling, but the percentage shared by young drivers is growing,” says Simon Douglas from AA Insurance. “Young people are much more likely to suffer a crash than older, more experienced drivers.”

Given that younger drivers also make far higher claims, many insurers refuse to cover them at all, which adds to the pressure on rates.

All of this has led to a high level of frustration, with 93 per cent of young drivers now feeling that they are priced off the road, according to specialist insurer Young Marmalade.

For those who are determined to get behind the wheel, it may be tempting to go without cover, but if you are not insured you are breaking the law. However, there are ways to keep costs down.

Firstly, choose a slower car with a smaller engine, as this will fall into a lower insurance group. You can also make savings by driving less and staying off the road late at night.

Look into paying your premium annually rather than monthly; this may require a large initial outlay, but in most cases, the total over a year will be lower.

By purchasing your cover through a cashback site such as Quidco.com, you can get large sums back on the cost of the insurance.

Also, try to choose a policy that will allow you to build up your no-claims bonus. Avoid just being named on your parents’ policy as you won’t build up your no-claims bonus if you do this.

Ensure you have an alarm and an immobiliser fitted and steer clear of sporty modifications.

“For young drivers, particularly young males, it has never been more important to shop around for the best price,” says Gareth Kloet from Confused.com. “Interestingly, our research also shows that young male drivers can see their car insurance costs reduce significantly if they are married and add their spouse to the policy.”

However, adding someone else as the main driver when this is not the case is known as “fronting” and is classed as fraud. If you are caught fronting you risk invalidating claims or could find yourself facing a fine or a ban.

Young drivers could also benefit from the development of “black box” technology, which a number of insurers are now using to record customer’s driving habits.

For example, insurer Young Marmalade monitors drivers using a tracking device and rewards safe motorists with lower premiums, while the Co-op also offers a pay-as-you-drive scheme using a Smartbox to measure how well the car is driven.

There are also plans to introduce a new post-test driving qualification, to replace the Pass Plus, with an emphasis on speed awareness.

If this is successful, it could also help responsible young drivers reduce their premiums.

“The existing Pass Plus scheme, which comprises six informal sessions, and no exam or test, has become discredited because many young drivers simply took it to get insurance discounts,” says Douglas.

“We are also urging the Government to add ‘road awareness’ to the National Curriculum in a bid to cut down the number of young driver casualties. This could also eventually help reduce insurance premiums.”

Drivers are being urged to check their motor policies for exclusions, as new findings from Moneysupermarket.com show that “fully comprehensive” car cover may not be as comprehensive as it sounds.

According to research, the cost and policy details can vary significantly, with some not including legal cover or courtesy cars.

“Motorist shouldn’t be fooled into assuming ‘fully comp’ is ‘fully comp’,” says Peter Harrison from Moneysupermarket.com. “Exclusions are commonplace, so drivers should scour the small print with a fine-toothed comb to ensure they don’t get caught out. The key is to shop around for the best policy to match your driving needs.”

Source : Esther Shaw - www.express.co.uk