10 Tips for choosing Car Insurance

30 October 2015
A grudge purchase it may be but car insurance is as essential as owning a car itself. You may, like me, be totally convinced you’re a perfect driver but look at all the other maniacs on the road? How do some even get a licence? Oh wait. They don’t.

The unpredictability of the road means car insurance is a must and usually the best car insurance cover is a comprehensive policy. This is the highest form of cover and will give you the greatest peace of mind. You can read about the different levels of car insurance here.

Price is usually the lightbulb that goes off straightaway in drivers’ heads. If only it were as simple as choosing the cheapest car insurance. Value for money is a better way to think about it, as price-driven products can – not always though – have a more basic level of coverage.

Why not start the exercise by writing down some facts?

1. What sort of a car do you have?

If it’s a small or family car of a common make and model, you’ll find your chances of getting a competitive premium will increase, whereas a prestige, performance or even eco model may be treated very differently by insurers.

2. What colour is your car?

Don’t laugh but the fancier your auto’s paintwork, the costlier it could be to repair or blend. A black car can cost more to insure than a white car. True. Research tells us that white is proven to be the safest colour on the road. From an insurer’s point of view, if it’s non-metallic it will be easier to match with your car’s existing panels and the least labour-intensive.

3. Considering modifications?

Forget it. While I can understand the appeal of copying James Bond’s ejector seats, machine guns and amphibious capability, the fact in 007’s Aston Martin is uninsurable. Your standard Kia Rio will speak to insurers in a clearer language than if you called and said “My name is Daniel Craig”. Modifications of the hoon variety also make your car a more glittering target for thieves.

4. Who’s in the driver’s seat?

The age of the car’s main driver greatly affects the premium. The least risky is a mature-age person with perhaps a partner as a nominated driver. Now may well be the time to let your 20-year-old offspring start creating their own car insurance track record, instead of piggy-backing on yours.

5. Is roadside assistance important to you?

Roadside Assistance is an optional extra that can be added to your comprehensive insurance coverage. If you have this cover, your insurer will help you if your vehicle won’t start or if it stops because of a mechanical or electrical failure. If they can’t fix the problem immediately, they will tow you to the nearest mechanic or to a mechanic within a certain kilometre range. They can also help you change a flat tyre or a flat battery, fill up your car if you run out of fuel, and help you get into your car if you lock your keys inside the car. Some insurers cover the entire cost of this emergency help. Other insurers will arrange the help to get you off the side of the road, but you still have to pay some or all of the cost afterwards. There are a number of providers of roadside assistance as a stand-alone product separate to your car insurance policy.

6. How often do you drive?

You may get a discount if you use the car less. It’s worth exploring the options.

7. Where do you park the car?

Is it left on the street outside your house or tucked away safely in a garage?

8. What suburb do you live in?

Where you live will dictate the premium you pay. This is a little trickier to work out before getting quotes because each insurer has its own set of “risk” suburbs where it considers theft and/or damage rife, according to its own data. That’s why it’s not surprising to find one insurer differs wildly from another in the evaluation of your postcode.

9. Think outside the box to reduce your premium?

Car insurers will often give you a discount for applying online. Monthly payments can also be heftier than if you pay in one lump sum. You can bump up any discounts offered by using the same insurer for other policies – such as Home & Contents, Boat, Caravan and any other item you have that requires insuring. Ask about it.

10. Still too expensive?

You can always increase the excess to lower your premium. Be mindful of Murphy’s Law though. It’s a dreaded certainty that the one time when you simply haven’t got that excess money up your sleeve you will have an accident. Only you can decide on the merits of this approach.

Yes, there is much to consider when embarking on the car insurance quote merry go round. However, it’s not all that mind boggling. Canstar demystifies the whole process by giving you an easy way to compare car insurers in the one place. Then you can compare like with like before making a decision.

One last piece of invaluable advice – once you have made your shortlist of insurers you are interested in, read up on their PDSs to make sure you’re are going to be covered for what you think you are covered for. Nasty surprises at claims time are for other drivers, not smart drivers like you.

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