Best ways to save on car insurance

Keep those annual insurance fees down with our top tips.

If you’re looking to reduce your car insurance premiums and you’ve already done plenty of shopping around to get the best quote you can, then these top tips should help you trim your outlay for cover that little bit further. Here’s how to keep insurance costs low each year.

  1. Small is beautiful – cars with larger and more powerful engines, no matter how experienced a driver you are, cost more to insure. Choose a smaller, low-powered engine to enjoy a cheaper annual premium. This makes a lot of sense if all you do is semi-urban commutes to work each day, because you don’t need a 600hp supercar for this sort of driving.
  2. Take it steady – whatever car you’ve got, be it a small city car or a grand cabriolet with a V8 engine, drive carefully. This may seem blindingly obvious, but drivers with lots of points on their licence or with a record of multiple claims on their insurance will pay more than those without either.
  3. Reduce your mileage – another one that might seem simple, but the more kilometres you travel, statistically the more likely you are to be involved in an incident; and that’s why insurance companies will load the premium. If you keep insuring your car for 20,000km per annum and you’re only doing 15,000km each year with regularity, reduce the quoted annual mileage to suit.
  4. Security for peace of mind – check what security systems are fitted to the car you’re interested in buying or which you own. Almost every new car will have an in-built alarm these days, but older models are not so secure. If you haven’t got one, think about investing in a GPS tracking device, because this will make the car easier to locate and recover if stolen, and the insurance company will recognise this by lowering your premium accordingly.
  5. Park it securely – it costs more to insure any given car that’s parked on a public road overnight than a private driveway, and it costs more to insure the same car on a driveway than it would do if you can shove it into a lockable garage each evening. Not all of us have access to garages or even driveways, but if you’ve got them, use them and make sure you tell the insurance company that you’re doing so. The net result will be a lower premium.
  6. Who else is driving the car? – this can work both ways. Adding another driver to your policy, if they’re a careful and lower-risk driver than yourself, can actually reduce your premium. Insurance companies will offer discounts for adding a spouse or partner, although said driver needs to genuinely be using your car for part of the year to get the reduction. The flipside of this is that if your spouse or partner wants to go on the insurance and they’ve got a lot of claims/points to their name, your premium is only going to go up.
  7. Value your car honestly – you might absolutely love your pride and joy Volkswagen Golf MkIV, and you might have spent a lot of money keeping it in tip-top condition over the years, but it will only be worth what an insurance assessor deems it to be worth. And that will be set by the second-hand values of cars of a similar age, mileage, condition and specification. If you claim it’s worth more than it is, you’ll pay more for your premium and, in the event you have to make a total-loss claim, you’ll only get what the assessor deems it to be worth anyway (i.e., you say it’s worth €4,000 and the assessor says the market value is €2,500, and you’ll be given €2,500 as settlement) – so you’ll be out of pocket all ways up.
  8. Choose your cover – if you don’t do a lot of kilometres per year, or your car’s not worth much (as in, it’s an older run-around), you don’t necessarily need fully comprehensive insurance; you might be able to get away with third party, fire and theft, potentially making your premium cheaper.
  9. Ramp up your excess – there’s a voluntary excess on car insurance premiums and, if you increase this, then your insurance company will reduce the overall cost of cover. Set it at €500 instead of €250 and you should feel the benefits in ordinary circumstances (i.e., you don’t claim on your policy during the course of a year), but make sure that whatever you set it at you can afford to rustle up in the event of a claim; it’s no good saying you’ll have a voluntary excess of €500 if you can only reasonably raise €200 from your monthly savings, for example.
  10. Pay your premium in one hit – another one that requires a bit of financial clout, but you usually have the choice to pay your annual policy fee in one lump sum or spread it out over 12 monthly payments. The latter incurs interest, so a €1,000 annual policy might end up costing you €1,100 if you pay it monthly and there’s a 10 per cent surcharge. Admittedly, finding €1,000 (or whatever your premium) in one go may be a challenge, but it will save you money in the long run.
  11. Move to a new house – OK, we’re being facetious with this one, obviously, but different residential areas will have higher premiums than others, depending on crime rates and local population. Quiet rural areas are going to enjoy lower premiums for the same car insured in the heart of Dublin, for instance. Obviously, moving house is not practical just to save a few Euro on a car premium, but if you’re thinking of changing your place of residence and you’ve got a few different options in mind, get a car insurance quote for each area, as you’ll find the premiums may vary quite markedly.