THE AA recently heralded the seizure of Britain’s millionth uninsured vehicle since 2005 – an average of 500 each day. Car insurance is, of course, a legal requirement for driving in the UK. But it’s also an expensive necessity.
According to research by Moneysupermarket.com, London drivers face the highest premiums in the country. If you have an east London postcode, you’ll be paying an average of £938.10 to insure your car – four times the cost in Perth, Scotland.
London premiums can seem unfair, especially if you commute to work or only use your car on weekends. You can’t do much about London itself – its high population density, buoyant crime rates, and mixed neighbourhoods all affect how insurers view you. But there are some simple steps you can take to save money.
CONSIDER YOUR MILEAGE
If you only expect to make short journeys, “reducing your mileage allowance can probably save you between 5 and 10 per cent,” says Kevin Pratt, insurance spokesman at Moneysupermarket.com. If your insurer knows you drive rarely, you’ll be judged less likely to get into an accident, and therefore less likely to launch a claim for damage.
While it’s important to be honest about how much you expect to drive, there’s space for flexibility without voiding your coverage. While each insurer will have a different attitude, all will have a degree of tolerance. If you overshoot by 1,000 miles, your insurer will probably be lenient.
SECURE YOUR VEHICLE
Another London issue is vehicle security. While motor crime in the capital fell in the 12 months to August 2012, the total figure still stood at an unhealthy 95,193 incidents. There are some basic steps you can take to reduce your vulnerability. Most cars come with immobilisers and alarms, but make sure your insurer knows you have them installed. A tracking device – activated in the event of theft – might also be a good idea.
You could also save money by parking off road or in a garage. Pratt suggests considering renting offroad parking. Even if a local garage charges you £20 a week to stow your car, safe storage could trim another 5 to 10 per cent off your premium.
CHECK YOUR MODEL
One of the biggest factors in determining your premium is the make and model of your car. Insurers grade them on a progressive ranking system – from one to 50, with 50 the most costly.
If you drive an Aston Martin Vantage, car insurance is unlikely to be among your most pressing costs. But similar cars can be treated very differently and, if you’re buying a new car, it’s worth checking its classification in advance – www.thatcham.org has a useful web form.
Ultimately, your premiums will only come down if you shop around and tailor your policy properly to your needs. Car insurers don’t reward loyalty, so make sure you’re not being taken for a ride.