Although millions of brand new, gleaming cars are sold out of showrooms every year, the vast majority of people that are scouring the market for the best insurance deals will be trying to find cost-effective cover for second-hand vehicles. The good news is there’s no shortage of options. The market is full of insurance companies offering a variety of cover regardless of whether you drive a clapped-out old Mini Metro or a three-year-old Mercedes equipped with every extra imaginable.
If you are yet to buy a vehicle then this is where the story starts.
Choosing your car
The bad news is that falling in love with a second-hand car is easy. The seductive combination of gleaming paintwork, an immaculate interior and the unstoppable patter of the salesman can convince even the most cynical buyers that they have a bargain. Hopefully that’s the case. Realistically, however, every second-hand car is likely to have some faults, whether it’s superficial bodywork scratches or more deep-rooted problems that will cost you thousands of pounds in the months ahead.
So how do you find them? When it comes to choosing your next four-wheeled companion caution pays. Don’t rush into buying anything in the heat of the moment. Being fooled by a layer of quickly applied polish could be a decision that you live to regret.
Firstly, don’t part with any cash until you’ve tried it out. Try to get at least 20 minutes and go on a variety of different roads, including the town, country and a motorway if possible. After you’ve finished let the engine idle and check under the bonnet for oil and coolant leaks.
Appraise the vehicle. Check the model badge matches the specification and that there are no obvious signs of accident damage. Running a magnet over the bodywork will also show up any dents that have been touched up with body filler. Check the electrics are working because repairs to the windows and central locking can be mightily expensive. You should also pay attention to the wear and tear on the seats as this could suggest a higher mileage than indicated on the dials.
What cover is available?
You basically have three levels of cover from which to choose – and the one you opt for will depend on your budget and individual requirements. The entry level cover 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. If you have more than on vehicle in the household then also try multi-car insurance to see if you can make extra savings.
Reducing your premium
There are ways to reduce the premium charged. For example, you can agree to limit the mileage you cover every year, as well as being willing to pay a voluntary excess should you need to make a claim. Be warned, however, that this means that you will pay extra money on top of the basic excess on the policy. 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. Some policies may also let you pay monthly with no deposit so you can manage your payments more easily.
Parking your vehicle in a secure location overnight - such as in a locked garage or compound - can also help your cause.
Find out more about car insurance