Finding affordable car insurance when you’re a new driver is no easy task. Even buying cover for relatively basic cars can still cost a lot of money as providers usually regard anyone without much experience on the road as a major risk. Of course, this isn’t unreasonable. Also note that insurance costs rise further if you are a young driver and usually fall once you reach the age of 25.
Statistics show that there is a higher likelihood of having an accident within the first two years of passing your driving test. When you consider insurance companies based premiums on risk assessment, it’s understandable they would be wary.
However, even if you fall comfortably into the “mature” category by the time you’re allowed on the road alone, your relative lack of experience is likely to dictate that your first car insurance policy is going to be expensive.
So what do you need to know?
There are a number of key elements to take into consideration when you’re buying car insurance for the first time: understanding what type of cover is available; seeing what features are available; deciding whether you need any extras; and searching the market in order to find the best combination of price and service.
Understanding cover options
There are three levels of cover – and which you choose all depends on the budget you have available. At its most basic is third-party only cover, which protects you against claims made by other people following an accident, including your liability for injury to others. Next up is third-party, fire and theft, which as well as the same level of cover as third-party only, also protects your vehicle against fire damage and theft. In most cases this is a sensible level of cover for a student to consider as it will guard against most scenarios. Finally you have comprehensive cover. This includes all the elements of protection already discussed, as well as accidental damager cover for your own car. Additional benefits can include cover for personal possessions and even medical expenses.
Getting to grips with policy features
You will need to read the small print of policies – or at the very least question the provider closely to ensure you understand the intricacies – as the deal on offer will vary enormously between rival companies. For example, some will automatically provide you with a courtesy car should yours be off the road for any period of time being repaired after an accident. However, you will need to check to see what type of vehicle will be provided as being given a tiny two-door car when you have a large family to transport around will be mission impossible.
Then you have policy extras. These are additional features that can be added to your policy – for a price that will vary between providers – such as legal expenses protection and breakdown cover. Consider closely whether you need these before agreeing to them.
Cutting the cost
Agreeing to a mileage limit with the insurance company might help to lower the costs, but you must not agree to a limit which is unfeasible, especially if you intend travelling hundreds of miles every month back home to your family. You can also agree to pay a voluntary excess. This means that you will pay extra money on top of the basic excess on most insurance policies should you have an accident. In exchange for this commitment you will enjoy a lower premium.
Other ways to reduce your premium include installing security devices like immobilisers, steering wheel locks and tracking systems. However, it’s worth checking which types – and manufacturers – are approved by your insurer.
In addition, parking your vehicle in a secure location overnight, such as in a locked garage or compound, can also reflect in your favour. However, this will all depend on where you go to university and what the accommodation is like in this area.
As a new driver also check how much your current insurer will charge for changing your insurance if you have cover as a provisional driver.
You can also consider going on the Pass Plus training course aimed at new drivers which has been designed by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) on the back of statistics indicating they’re more likely to have an accident in the first two years after passing their test. The course builds on a driver’s knowledge and skill set with emphasis on how to anticipate and deal with various hazards. Once you have completed the course successfully you’ll be sent a Pass Plus certificate which may enable you to claim a discount on your insurance.
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