It’s widely accepted that shopping for car insurance is a chore. However, everyone who owns a car is subject to the law on Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) which requires vehicles to be insured unless they have been officially declared off-road with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). This is something that’s strictly authorised and regulated for both your safety and the safety of others.
If you’re someone who always tends to leave their car insurance quotes until the very last minute, perhaps even as late as the day before, you’ll know how difficult it can be to find a good deal without paying through the nose. For that reason, we’re posing the question – when really is the best time to buy?
Your risk class will determine your rate
When an insurance company takes on a new client, they need to determine the risk associated with that particular person. This is part of their underwriting process. For that reason, car insurance premiums differ due to the risk class you belong to. While no two policyholders are the same, many share similar traits that allow them to be classified in this way.
Your risk class incorporates several different factors that usually include, but are not limited to:
- Your age
- Your occupation
- Where you live
- The amount of experience you have
- Your driving record
- Your history of accidents
- How many years no claims you have
- Vehicle type and features
- Your driving habits
- Insurance status and history
- Credit history and credit-based insurance score
An insurance company will assess all of these factors to place you in a preferred, standard, or high-risk driver class. Understandably, the higher risk driver class you are, the more you’ll pay for your level of cover.
High-risk drivers do pay more for their insurance, but the goal of the insurance company is to help policyholders regain their status as low-risk drivers. Some insurance companies will support you and suggest ways that you can change the group you’re put in the next time you’re due to renew.
What car insurance group do I belong to?
When it comes to the type of vehicle that you own, it’s not necessarily the expensive cars sold that cost the most to insure. Cars that accelerate quickly and reach higher speeds are seen by insurers to pose a greater risk, as well as having pricier parts and longer repair times.
Every car on the market will belong to one of 50 groups. These groups have been set by the Group Rating Panel and take into consideration engine size, performance, the cost of repairs, and how attractive your car may be to thieves. At present, some of the most expensive cars to insure include the BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS, Tesla Model X SUV, and Jaguar F-Type Convertible. In fact, there are a lot of insurance companies out there that simply won’t offer an insurance quote for a car of such high value. In comparison, some of the cheapest cars to insure include the Skoda Yeti, Kia Venga, Toyota IQ, Peugeot Partner, and Suzuki Splash.
Cancelled, renewed, or expired?
Regardless of the level of cover you opt for, a car insurance policy will run for a term of 6 or 12 months. After that, every policy will either be cancelled or renewed, and it’s important to know what happens in the case of each. According to the Financial Conduct Authority, a “renewal” means “carrying forward a policy, at the point of expiry and as a successive or separate operation of the same nature and duration as the policy, with the same insurance intermediary or the same insurer.”
In most cases, you (the policyholder) will be the one to cancel your policy before it automatically renews. In general, shopping around for a new policy with a different insurer tends to save you money, but for those of us that are perpetually unorganised, this is easier said than done. Renewals, therefore, work in a car insurance companies favour. The company will be given the opportunity to look over your history of claims (or lack thereof) and use this to determine whether or not they wish to raise their rates when the time comes for you to renew. As a policyholder, you are unable to request that your renewal is run early. The insurance company has the right to wait until 30 days before your term ends to calculate a new rate.
Alternatively, if your current policy expires, you will be faced with risks and even penalties. If your car is stolen, damaged by fire, or if you’re involved in an accident that was your fault you will not receive any financial cover, and you will have to bear the burden. The moment your car insurance expires your vehicle will no longer be listed on the national Motor Insurance Database (MID). Police use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to snap up motorists that are uninsured, and if you’re caught out then your vehicle is likely to be confiscated. To avoid these risks, make sure you renew (or cancel and find a new policy) at least four days before expiry.
Experts suggest renewing at least three weeks before
Research has found that motorists who leave it late to renew their insurance policy are penalised with higher costs from insurance providers. In comparison, those who renew approximately three weeks ahead can save, on average, around £284.84. The same research also found that renewing three weeks in advance can help to save money across all age groups. For example, a £305 yearly premium may rise as high as £511 for the day before the renewal date and £590 on the day of the new policy.
The reason for this tends to be the simple fact that insurance companies take advantage of those desperate to renew their premium and will pay any price to remain on the road. An element of psychology also comes into play. After all, a person who renews his or her policy with enough time to spare will probably tend to have more financial prudence than someone who purchases the day before. Insurers tend to see these people as a greater risk on the road and rates begin to rise.
While renewing in good time can help to save money across all age groups, the biggest savings come for drivers between the ages of 21 to 24. Buying three weeks in advance can mean a potential difference between almost £300, according to the majority of comparison sites.
Are there any other ways to keep costs down?
So, you’ve finally decided to get organised and renew well in advance but what else can you do to keep the cost of your new policy as low as it can be? Here is some expert, tried and tested tips:
- Make sure you keep your vehicle safely secured such as in a garage or off the street to deter any theft or vandalism
- Drive fewer miles, and you’ll be less likely to have an accident
- Pay any minor damage out of your own pocket as to avoid making a claim and to help build your no-claims bonus
- Stick to the rules of the road to avoid any convictions
- Don’t modify or customise your vehicle
- Take an advanced motoring course such as Pass Plus
- Fit a Thatcham-approved alarm or a tracker device if you have an older car
It’s important to shop around
On top of renewing in plenty of time, one of the easiest ways to find cheaper car insurance is to shop around. We’re all aware that insurance companies compete head to head so the more time you spend looking into quotes, the more likely you are to find a better deal. This is particularly important for policyholders that find themselves situated within the high-risk category.
Insurers use SORN to make auto-renewal seem more attractive. This is because it eliminates any fear a car owner might have about their policy expiring. However, choosing to auto-renew could end up leaving you out of pocket. Experts have found that customers could be saving around £311 by opting out of their current policy and taking time to find an alternative. Car insurance expert Peter Harrison states, “September is peak period for motor renewals, and it’s vital you don’t let insurers profit from your apathy. Shop around for cover instead and keep prices as low as possible. And make sure you run quotes well before your renewal date to make sure you get the best price possible on your new policy.” For Peter, then, even a three-week advance may be cutting it too fine.
Your best option is to get quotes from a few price comparison sites, alongside a few that don’t choose to feature. Bear in mind though that the cheapest insurance isn’t always the best, because it may not cover you for certain issues when you need it the most. If you’re looking for fully comprehensive deals – it’s best to compare like for like.
Always read the key facts and policy wording documents otherwise you may be taking out an insurance policy that doesn’t work for you. This still stands if you choose to renew your policy with the same insurer. Of course, if you’re feeling confident you can always approach your current insurer and ask them to beat the best quote you’ve found.
Types of insurance: a brief recap
If you’re a car owner, it’s likely that you’ll already know the type of car insurance you need, but it’s worth going over your options again to ensure you get it right. There are three main types of car insurance: third party, third party fire and theft, and fully comprehensive cover. The minimum level you need by law is third party, even if you don’t drive your car every day.
- Third party
Covers you against any damage you have caused to someone else’s property and any compensation costs they claim. It does not cover you for damage to your vehicle, injuries you have sustained, or if your vehicle was stolen or damaged by fire.
- Third party fire and theft
Offers an additional layer of protection, covering you against fire and theft as well as any damage you have caused to someone else.
Includes cover for damage to your own vehicle, as well as any damage to others by accident, fire, and theft.
Need help finding the best insurance policy? Contact Call Wiser today
At Call Wiser, we allow motorists to compare their car insurance quotes so that they can easily find the best policy to suit them. We think we’ve made it pretty clear that choosing to insure in advance will undoubtedly place you in peak position to save some money so why not contact us today to see how we can help.