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Motor insurance (also known as auto insurance or car insurance) is compulsory by law if you own or drive a motor vehicle. Its primary use is to provide protection against losses incurred as a result of traffic accidents and against liability that could be incurred in an accident.

Types of Car Insurance

  • Third party only – this is the minimum legal requirement and covers you if you injure a third party, including passengers or their property, but does not cover damage to your own vehicle
  • Third party, fire and theft – covers third party injuries and liabilities, and also fire and theft to your own vehicle, but not accidental damage to your vehicle
  • Comprehensive – as well as the above, this will cover fire, theft and accidental damage to your vehicle

To see what is covered and what isn't for each type of cover, please visit our car insurance comparison tables.

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It is important to be aware that not all car insurance policies are the same - all will cover the basics, but different companies will vary what they offer. For example, some may offer car breakdown cover and a courtesy car as standard on their comprehensive policy, while others may charge extra.  It pays to know which type of car insurance you need for your purpose and to shop around for the best deal.

What Affects Car Insurance Premiums?

There are many factors which influence how much a person will pay for motor insurance.  The main ones are:

  • The vehicle's value
  • The make and model of the vehicle
  • The engine size and performance
  • The vehicle's security features
  • Car usage and estimated mileage
  • Where the vehicle will be parked and whether it will be garaged overnight
  • The proposed use of the car e.g. social, domestic and pleasure, commuting and business
  • The postcode of the vehicle owner
  • The age of the applicant
  • How long the driver has held a driving licence
  • Whether the applicant has made any claims within the last several years and if any no claims discount is applicable
  • Whether the applicant has any motoring convictions in the last several years
  • Whether legal cover is included and if so, to what level

Things to Consider when taking out Car Insurance

  • You can lower your premiums by increasing the excess on the policy. Do bear in mind however, that if you have a high excess, smaller claims my not be economical and on larger claims (e.g. if your car was written off) the damages awarded will probably not be enough to replace the vehicle
  • Check if the insurance policy allows you to drive other cars. Unless the small print of your car insurance states you are covered to drive other cars, you are not (even if it's just a test drive)
  • Paying your car insurance in one go (annually) is recommended as it will work out out cheaper than paying in monthly installments as the cost of paying monthly usually ranges from around 12% up to 29% APR. The only potential downside of paying in one installment is that any alterations made to the policy will have to be paid in a lump sum as well
  • Sometimes you will get a cheaper car insurance quote online, and other times you will get it cheaper over the telephone. We recommend you try both and try at many different companies as well.  You could also go back to your current insurer and see if they will price match your best quote to keep your business
  • Car modifications (performance and aesthetic) should always be declared even if it costs extra. If they are not declared, then in the event of a claim your insurance policy could be voided and not pay out
  • 10 month insurance policies are usually good for younger inexperienced drivers looking to build up a No Claims Bonus (NCB) but are not generally recommended for more experiences drivers who have already built up a full NCB
  • Check your mileage to make sure you are not paying extra for miles you are not covering in your car
  • Fitting an approved alarm and immobiliser (if you don't have one already) can reduce your car insurance costs
  • If you have just one car in your family, consider who to put as the main insured driver. If for example the man has more penalty points than the woman, putting her down as the main driver with him as a named driver on the policy could reduce premium
  • Keep insurance company documents and contact details to hand e.g. in the glove box so you have them to hand immediately if you need to make a claim.  This also applies to any breakdown cover you may have

N.B. When applying for motor insurance, always give honest answers and disclose anything which may effect your premiums.  Failing to do so may result in a policy not paying out in the event of a claim.

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