Getting a lower insurance premium

Car insurance is in the news at the moment, for the wrong reason. Here are a few practical tips to reduce your costs.

The cost of car insurance has gone utterly bananas in the past two years in Ireland, as insurers seek to claw back money they lost in the era of discounted premiums and shore up their balance sheets. Overall, premiums have risen by 38 per cent in the past year, and many drivers are getting renewal quotes that are two, three, even four times their last year’s cover.

While the government has instigated an investigation into spiralling rates, it could take years for that to have any effect on your cost so what can you do today, right now, to start making your insurance a little more affordable?

First off, shop around. I know, it’s the obvious starting point, but it’s also true – it’s a well-known fact that insurers pad their renewal quotes in the hope that, as so many people do, you’ll just take the easy route and sign on the line without thinking too much about it. Don’t. Be strong. Get on the phone, get on the laptop and spend at least an hour or two phoning and clicking. That small effort can often get you at least €200 knocked off your quote, sometimes more.

Consider not having named drivers on your policy too. It’s tempting, again for convenience’s sake, to simply add everyone in the family who might drive your car, but who end up not doing so very much. It’ll save you plenty to leave them off the policy and simply add them for a few days at a time when needed. It means a little more planning ahead, but as a bonus it will give you a little more control over who’s driving your car and when…

You can also shuffle some administrative stuff around, by opting to protect your no claims bonus (which means one big claim won’t wipe it out and your next renewal won’t be as high) and opting to take a higher excess payment. Even a couple of hundred Euro extra on the excess might make a big difference to the premium, and won’t result in a huge difference for you if you have to make a big claim, which, thankfully, is not very often for any of us.

If you’re lucky enough to have a garage, and if like ours it’s full of junk and old pet food, clear it out and start keeping your car in it. A car that’s garaged at night can be significantly cheaper to insure than one that’s parked on the driveway or the street.

You could consider having a ‘black box’ fitted to the car that monitors your driving style and sends reports back to your insurer, but make sure you carefully consider the implications of privacy and the potential costs of making a small mistake first.

As a last resort, think about changing your car. Many Irish insurers are now point-blank refusing to cover older cars and are seriously jacking up the premiums for existing customers with older cars in order to try and drive them off the road. If you’re thinking of changing your car anyway, it’s worth considering and make sure you do it before your next premium is due. And ultimately, the easiest route to cheaper insurance in Ireland is still having a smaller engine. Out-dated, but there it is.