Find out ways to get cheaper car insurance quotes from price comparison sites and how to haggle with car insurance companies to save money
Why should I compare car insurance?
The price you’re offered when you renew your car insurance is unlikely to be the cheapest available.
Since January 2022, car and home insurers have been banned from charging their new and existing customers different prices – but you still stand to get the best prices if you regularly shop around.
Different insurers may view your claims history, vehicle and neighbourhood in different ways – or might have temporarily made their product cheaper to attract new customers. Either way, seeing what’s on offer from your insurer’s rivals gives you the advantage of knowing how competitive your current insurer is.
Comparing car insurance quotes takes minutes and enables you to see if your renewal offer really is the best available. Even if you’ve got a big no-claims discount, it’s usually possible to carry this to another insurer.
How to compare quotes on price comparison sites
Price comparison sites are a good place to start as they allow you to get multiple car insurance quotes quickly.
Once you’re on the insurer’s website, check the policy details again, just to be sure the insurer has received correct information about you and is providing an accurate quote.
The main price comparison sites for insurance are Compare the Market, Confused.com, GoCompare and MoneySuperMarket.
What do I need to get a car insurance quote?
Before visiting comparison sites or contacting insurers, make sure you have the following:
- your car’s registration number (or at least its make and model)
- your driving licence
- your driving and claims history, including your no-claims discount
- an idea of what you’ll use your car for (such as work, commuting or personal use only)
- your annual mileage, which you may be able to estimate based on your MOT certificate or by checking the MOT online.
It’s also useful to have an idea of what you’re currently paying for your car insurance.
Which car insurance comparison site should I get a quote from first?
With insurance or comparison sites, loyalty isn’t much of a virtue – although some comparison sites do have reward schemes to incentivise repeat car insurance customers.
While you’ll find a lot of big-name insurers across all the main sites, their panels of insurers vary, and in some cases, the prices – which means you should check as many of them as possible for car insurance deals.
While this might sound like a chore, it’s effectively the equivalent of running about five or six quotes rather than one, to access offers from scores of insurance firms. Compared to the days when it was necessary to contact each insurer individually, it’s time well spent.
Does using a price comparison site affect my credit rating?
This is potentially the case if you apply for a deal paid for in monthly instalments, but this would be the same if you’d gone to the insurer directly without using a comparison site.
What you may notice is that a number of insurers will run ‘soft’ searches on your credit record to verify your identity. You will see these on your credit file, but soft searches won’t be visible to other companies and won’t affect your rating.
Can I trust price comparison site prices?
The car insurance price you’re shown on a comparison site is a genuine, live quote from the insurer. However, take into account the following:
- After being provided the initial quote, you’ll have an opportunity to optimise your cover by purchasing add-ons. That final inclusive price could be higher than a competing deal that included some of these features as standard.
- Insurers have sometimes featured versions of their policies on comparison sites that come with slightly less cover as standard than those available from their website. This means that they’re cheaper, and therefore more likely to stand out on a comparison site. But it also means you have to be careful it includes the cover you’re after.
- Sometimes a great price can be explained, on closer inspection, by a steep excess. You can amend what’s called a ‘voluntary’ excess when running the quote, but many insurers also include a ‘compulsory’ excess, too.
Check assumptions before you buy
When you click through to the insurer’s site, you’ll be asked to agree to a set of ‘assumptions’. This is information assumed to be correct about you that you haven’t provided via the comparison site.
Check this carefully. If any of it is inaccurate, your quote could be incorrect.
Also factor in the costs of add-ons and the potential costs of fees – we’ve compared insurers’ fees here.
Check car insurers that aren’t on comparison sites
Comparison sites are a great aid to your search for cheap car insurance, helping you cover vast amounts of terrain quickly when shopping around. But some insurers don’t feature on all comparison sites.
Direct Line insurance is only available direct. Direct Line is a high performer in our analysis of providers, offering a total-loss hire car as standard. Churchill and Privilege are part of the Direct Line Group, but both sell policies on comparison sites.
NFU Mutual doesn’t sell online at all. For a quote, you’ll need to call one of its broker centres. NFU Mutual tends to perform well when we analyse car insurance, offering a lifetime guarantee on repairs and purporting to have a ‘no-quibble’ approach to claims.
Use cashback sites to get even cheaper cover
Another variety of comparison site is the cashback site. As the name suggests, these sites – such as Quidco and TopCashback – pay you a cash reward when you click through from them to buy goods or financial products.
These are worth checking out while you shop around for deals but they won’t necessarily offer you the best value deals, even with cashback included.
A £300 insurance policy with £75 cashback is far from a bargain if you can get the same cover elsewhere for £150.
- Find out more: the best car insurance providers
How much does car insurance cost?
How much you’ll pay for car insurance depends on a range of factors, from your age, the type of vehicle you have and where you live, to your marital status and past driving history.
Several companies track prices within car insurance pricing and regularly publish trends. Differing calculation methods and dates of publication can mean that the average figures don’t always align.
|Source*||Index/survey||Premium||Premium is average of|
|Association of British Insurers||Premium tracker||£429||premiums paid|
|Compare the market||Premium Drivers index||£640||cheapest prices quoted to customers|
|Confused.com||Car insurance price index||£539||cheapest prices quoted to customers|
|MoneySuperMarket||Car insurance UK Price Index||£444||cheapest prices quoted to customers|
*Association of British Insurers data from July-September 2021; comparison sites data from October to December 2021
While this range of figures outlines what your ‘average’ person might pay (or be quoted), in real life, there isn’t an ‘average’ car insurance customer.
Insurance is personally priced. This means that according to your personal circumstances, you might find that you pay a lot more or less than the figures cited above.
What affects your car insurance premium?
Factors that could make your insurance more expensive include:
- being younger or newly qualified (though some older drivers also pay more)
- living in a postcode with a higher rate of motor accidents or crime
- having a more expensive and/or more powerful car
- a very high or very low annual mileage
- a job title seen as high risk by insurers
- any driving convictions and past claims
- parking your car on the street rather than in a garage.
While you may not be able to change insurers’ views of you, read on for several ways you can bring down the cost of car insurance.
What level of car insurance cover do I need?
There are three levels of car insurance:
- Third-party only (TP): the legal minimum, only covering damage to other people, their vehicles and property.
- Third-party, fire and theft (TPF&T): third-party cover plus cover for your car if it’s stolen or damaged by a fire.
- Fully comprehensive: third-party, fire and theft cover plus damage to your vehicle in an accident.
Why comprehensive car insurance could be cheaper
Drivers who are typically offered the least competitive prices (such as younger drivers) may be tempted to a lower level of cover to reduce the premium. However, it’s worth checking the prices of each level of cover as, sometimes, counterintuitively, comprehensive cover costs less than TP or TPF&T.
The reason is insurers don’t just price policies according to the level of cover, but also according to how much they’re paying out in claims for the drivers buying it.
Where less comprehensive policies are bought overwhelmingly by drivers that tend to claim more, insurers will work this into their pricing, making them more expensive.
Cheap car insurance if you’ve got a big no-claims discount
If you go several years without making a car insurance claim, you could receive a no-claims discount (NCD) of more than 60%.
However, a big NCD doesn’t mean you’re getting the best price on your insurance:
- An NCD might not make up for a high premium: a 30% NCD on a £1,000 premium is better than a 50% NCD on a £1,500 premium
- An NCD isn’t a discount for loyalty: you can often take it to other insurers
- NCD protection won’t stop your premium from rising after a claim
When you seek quotes for new insurers, you’ll be asked how many years of no-claims you have. You may be asked to back this up with evidence.
Bear in mind that different insurers have different NCD policies, and may set different maximums for the number of claims-free years recognised in your NCD.
Our car insurance reviews list the maximum number of years each insurer will accept, as well as ratings of the insurer’s different policies.
Could not claiming save you money?
It’s counter-intuitive, but sometimes not claiming on your insurance, and paying for repairs out of your pocket, could save you money over the longer term.
This is because claiming could incur an excess, reduce your NCD and lead to an increase in your premium.
Our guide to claiming on your car insurance explains the calculation you should undertake when deciding whether to claim
You should inform your insurer about an incident – whether or not you claim – which could also affect your premium.
Cheap car insurance for younger drivers and new drivers
If you’re aged under 25, or are newly qualified to drive, getting car insurance can be an expensive business.
This means comparing options is even more important for young drivers, and you may find the cheapest quotes are for black box policies.
These could reward you for driving more safely than the average driver; other policies may suit drivers with relatively low mileage.
Choosing a cheaper-to-insure car, adding an older named driver to your policy and adding a higher voluntary excess can reduce your premium – though in the latter case make sure the excess is an amount you could afford to pay yourself if your car was damaged.
Also consider additional courses such as Pass Plus, which can get you a discount from some insurers.
- Find out more: black box car insurance explained
Cheap car insurance for over-50s
Although car insurance premiums tend to decrease as you get older, they can rise in your late 60s, 70s and 80s.
Some insurance providers market themselves at over-50s drivers – but they won’t necessarily be the cheapest option.
We recommend continuing to get quotes from all providers to see how the over-50s specialists compare. Some over-50s insurers may offer additional perks, such as extended cover for driving overseas.
- Find out more: car insurance for the over-50s
Cheap car insurance for low-mileage drivers
If you drive significantly less than the national average mileage (6,700 miles a year, according to the Department for Transport), you may be charged more for insurance than higher mileage drivers.
Some insurers now offer policies that charge by the mile, tracking your mileage using a telematics device (‘black box’) or linking directly to your car’s electronics.
It’s worth comparing the quotes you’re getting from these providers with quotes from more traditional car insurers.
If you only need access to a car for a short time, consider getting short-term car insurance, or a policy with a rolling monthly contract that can be cancelled without incurring significant fees.
- Find out more: black box car insurance for low mileage drivers
Cheap Gap insurance for new cars
Guaranteed asset protection (Gap) insurance covers the difference between what your new car cost you, and what an insurer would pay out if it was stolen or written off.
New cars depreciate very quickly, so your insurer could pay out thousands of pounds less than you might expect.
Gap insurance can be particularly useful for people who buy cars on finance, as they’ll be in debt for the original cost of the car.
While many people buy Gap insurance from their car dealer, they’re unlikely to be getting the cheapest price. You should compare quotes, as you would for your main insurance policy.
Our guide explains what to look for when choosing GAP insurance and the different types of policies.
Cheap car insurance for classic cars
Owners of classic cars – defined by HMRC as cars over 15 years old with a value of £15,000 or more – might struggle to get car insurance from mainstream insurers.
It’s still worth getting quotes from comparison sites, but also seek quotes from specialist classic car insurers and brokers.
Joining an owners’ club may also give you discounts on car insurance policies.
- Find out more: how to save on classic car insurance
How to haggle for cheap car insurance
While insurers are banned from charging you more just because you’re renewing, they could still come up with other reasons to raise your premium. Haggling is your chance to change their mind.
Watch out for car insurance scams
If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. Here are some car insurance scams to watch out for:
Ghost-brokers are scammers posing as car insurance brokers; they can be found thriving on social media platforms. A Which? investigation in 2020 tracked 40 Instagram profiles in a three-month period that touted cheap insurance and appeared to be run by scammers.
Ghost-brokers claim to be able to arrange cheap cover for hard-to-insure customers, but to do this they will secretly manipulate their customers’ details by, for instance, changing addresses, driving histories, and adding named drivers.
Victims will sometimes be provided with doctored documents to mask the amendments. The resulting policy looks fine to start with, but it will be found to be worthless if the driver tries to claim. Long after the ghost-broker has made off with their fee, the average victim is £559 down and may face further consequences for having owned a fraudulent policy.
Insurance scams tend to run more smoothly when the policies are linked to real people, making identity theft a key part of the professional insurance fraudster’s toolkit.
Details such as names, addresses and ages are often sold online, and originate from an array of sources – for instance, data leaks from companies or hacked emails.
Sometimes, insurers are the weak link. A report by Pindrop claims that ‘voice fraud’ is rife in insurance. This is where impostors try to convince call handlers they’re genuine customers, usually to obtain information about those customers or access their policies.
Crash for cash
‘Crash for cash’ is where car insurance claims result from fake or deliberately staged road accidents – for example, a fraudster inducing an accident by braking suddenly in heavy traffic.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau recently analysed 2.7 million car insurance claims that were made between October 2019 and December 2020. It thinks that 170,000 of those claims might be linked to suspected networks carrying out these crash for cash scams.
How to protect yourself
Insurance brokers should be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The Financial Services Register lists details of all of the firms, individuals and other bodies that are currently regulated by the FCA.
You can also check if your policy is listed on the Motor Insurers’ Bureau’s Motor Insurance Database. This records the policy details of all vehicles insured in the UK – if your vehicle is not listed, your policy is not legitimate.
If you’ve received suspicious correspondence from an insurer, let the insurer know as soon as possible using contact details you have verified independently. It’s also worth keeping a close eye on your credit report – this will allow you to pick up on any searches by companies you don’t recognise, which could indicate a fraudulent application made in your name.
If you think you’ve been the victim of any type of fraud, contact the police. Take photographs, make sketches, and gather documentation or any other details that might be useful to an investigation.