Car Insurance Tips for First Time Drivers

Here are some of the best ways for first-time drivers to save money on their insurance premiums.

Sky-high insurance premiums for first-time drivers are one of the major barriers that prevent people from getting on the road. With the combined cost of buying a car, motor tax and an insurance premium that could run into the thousands of euros, first-time motorists and younger drivers in particular could easily be forgiven for opting to just take the bus instead. Unfortunately, because of Ireland’s relatively sparse public transport, that’s not an option for a lot of people, placing those in rural areas at a particular disadvantage. While insurance for first-time drivers is never going to be cheap, there are, fortunately, some ways to keep premiums to a minimum.

Get named driver experience

If you have the option to do so, try persuading a parent, partner or very good friend to add you as a named driver on their insurance policy. Doing this means that when you take out your own insurance policy, the years of driving experience you’ve built up as a named driver will be taken into consideration, resulting in a lower premium for you. Adding a first-time driver to a policy will usually mean a significant premium increase for the policy holder, so that’s something to bear in mind. Also, the policy holder must be the car’s primary user as buying insurance in your own name for someone else to use — known as “fronting” — is illegal.

Pass your practical test

For those still driving on a provisional licence, in addition to requiring accompaniment by a fully-qualified driver at all times, premiums will always remain especially high until you’ve passed your practical test. On the bright side, lower insurance premiums are a particularly strong incentive and motivator to pass.

Be 25 or older

One of the benefits of getting older is that those aged 25 or above get significantly reduced premiums, even if they’re first-time drivers. If you’re in a position to remain as a named driver until you’re at least 25, those years of experience plus your advanced aged should result in a much lower insurance premium than, say, a 19-year-old driver with a little in the way of experience.

Think about your car

For first-time drivers, large and powerful cars are a big no-no if you want to keep your premium low. Premiums also tend to be cheaper for newer cars, so think Fiat 500 or Volkswagen Polo from 2015 onwards as opposed to an old Subaru Impreza or a Range Rover.

Volkswagen Polo

There are some calculations to be made in this regard though: does the cost of a newer car versus an older one outweigh the insurance savings you’ll make? Many insurance companies won’t insure cars more than ten years old and those that do will often impose a substantial loading. On the other hand, buying an older car for less money may mean a higher insurance premium but a saving of hundreds or thousands of euros in up-front costs or finance payments. The choice you make will depend on your individual circumstances, but the next tip may be helpful in making your decision...

Call a broker

Forget ringing around all the insurance companies — there are just too many of them. Ring an insurance broker instead as they’ll be able to take your individual circumstances into account and find you the cheapest premium from dozens of different companies. An advisor at an insurance broker will be able to take you through all your options and give you a range of different quotes. Talking to a broker is especially useful when it comes to making the old car versus new car decision as they’ll be able to give you quotes for both and allow you to make an informed decision on which best suits you. Using a broker will also allow you to switch between insurers with ease ensuring that you get the best price available every time you go to renew your policy in future.

Think about what kind of insurance you want

There are three types of car insurance in Ireland: Third Party; Third Party, Fire & Theft; and Comprehensive. If you’ve just shelled out big money for a newish car, you may want Comprehensive insurance in case you have an accident that’s your fault, as it will cover the cost of repairs to your pride and joy. Comprehensive insurance, however, is the most expensive kind and you may feel like you don’t need it, especially if you drive a less expensive car. Third Party insurance is the minimum level that’s legally required in Ireland and both it and Third Party, Fire & Theft are usually much cheaper than Comprehensive cover.

Think about “black box” cover

A number of insurers in Ireland offer “black box” cover that, using either a telematics device fitted to your car or a phone app, monitors your driving behaviour such as speed or how far you drive. Choosing to have one of these devices installed can reduce your premium on its own, but the lower-risk your driving behaviours are, the more likely you are to earn further insurance discounts. Some drivers may be uncomfortable with this or have privacy concerns, but, as to whether the desire to save money on your insurance premium overrides this is down to the individual.

Add a named driver

Adding an experienced named driver to your policy (i.e., a parent or partner with a clean licence and more experience than you) may, in some cases, reduce your premium.

Consider where you park your car

Parking your car off the street in a yard, front garden or, better still, a garage, usually results in a cheaper premium if you have that option.

Check your excess

The excess is the amount of money you’re willing to contribute in the event of any claim where you cause an accident. The higher your excess, the lower your premium will be, so, if you can potentially afford it, consider increasing your excess to lower your premium.

Drive carefully

It sounds so simple, but driving carefully and sensibly is the best way to avoid a crash and thus inflating your premium. The longer you go without having a crash, the larger your no-claims bonus will be, which should, as the years go on, result in discounts of as much as 75 per cent.

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