How do I get cheap car insurance?
Getting cheap car insurance starts with shopping around.
In this guide we explain how to find the best quotes on comparison sites – and the insurers that aren’t on them – plus how to tweak your cover, from adding named drivers to changing excess.
We’ve got dedicated advice for drivers with large no-claims discounts; younger and newer drivers and those aged over-50.
Once you’ve got quotes from other providers, challenge your current insurer to do better, using our haggling script.
Read on to find many more ways to save and how to find the most affordable car insurance deals.
Why should I compare car insurance?
The price you’re offered when you renew your car insurance is unlikely to be the cheapest available.
Since January 2022, car and home insurers have been banned from charging their new and existing customers different prices – but you still stand to get the best prices if you regularly shop around.
Different insurers may view your claims history, vehicle and neighbourhood in different ways – or might have temporarily made their product cheaper to attract new customers. Either way, seeing what’s on offer from your insurer’s rivals gives you the advantage of knowing how competitive your current insurer is.
Comparing car insurance quotes takes minutes and enables you to see if your renewal offer really is the best available. Even if you’ve got a big no-claims discount, it’s usually possible to carry this over to another insurer.
Ready to save? Scroll down for our tips, or see our guides on:
- Best and worst UK car insurance companies
How to compare quotes on price comparison sites
Price comparison sites are a good place to start as they allow you to get multiple car insurance quotes quickly.
Once you’re on the insurer’s website, check the policy details again, just to be sure the insurer has received all the correct information about you and is providing an accurate quote.
The main price comparison sites for insurance are Compare the Market, Confused.com, GoCompare and MoneySuperMarket.
What do I need to get a car insurance quote?
Before visiting comparison sites or contacting insurers, make sure you have the following:
- your car’s registration number (or at least its make and model)
- your driving licence
- your driving and claims history, including your no-claims discount
- an idea of what you’ll use your car for (such as work, commuting or personal use only)
- your annual mileage, which you may be able to estimate based on your MOT certificate or by checking the MOT history of a vehicle online.
It’s also useful to have an idea of what you’re currently paying for your car insurance. Your insurer’s renewal letter should note what you’ve paid this year, as well as the renewal quote.
Which car insurance comparison site should I get a quote from first?
With insurance or comparison sites, loyalty isn’t much of a virtue – although some comparison sites do have reward schemes to incentivise repeat car insurance customers.
While you’ll find a lot of big-name insurers across all the main sites, their panels of insurers vary and, in some cases, the prices too – which means you should check as many of them as possible for car insurance deals.
While this might sound like a chore, it’s effectively the equivalent of running about 50 or more quotes rather than one, to access offers from scores of insurance firms. Compared to the days when it was necessary to contact each insurer individually, it’s time well spent.
Does using a price comparison site affect my credit rating?
This is potentially the case if you apply for a deal paid for in monthly instalments, but this would be the same if you’d gone to the insurer directly without using a comparison site.
What you may notice is that a number of insurers will run ‘soft’ searches on your credit record to verify your identity. You will see these on your credit report, but soft searches won’t be visible to other companies and won’t affect your rating.
Can I trust price comparison site prices?
The car insurance price you’re shown on a comparison site is a genuine, live quote from the insurer. However, take into account the following:
- After being provided the initial quote, you’ll have an opportunity to optimise your cover by purchasing add-ons. That final inclusive price could be higher than a competing deal that included some of these features as standard.
- Insurers sometime feature versions of their policies on comparison sites that come with slightly less cover as standard than those available from their website. This means that they’re cheaper, and therefore more likely to stand out on a comparison site. But it also means you have to be careful it includes the cover you want.
- Sometimes a great price can be explained, on closer inspection, by a steep excess. You can amend what’s called a ‘voluntary’ excess when running the quote, but many insurers also include a ‘compulsory’ excess, too.
Check car insurers that aren’t on comparison sites
Comparison sites are a great aid to your search for cheap car insurance, helping you cover vast amounts of terrain quickly when shopping around. But some insurers don’t feature on all comparison sites.
Direct Line insurance is only available direct. Direct Line is a strong performer in our analysis of providers, offering a total-loss hire car as standard. Churchill and Privilege are part of the Direct Line Group, but both sell policies on comparison sites.
NFU Mutual doesn’t sell online at all. For a quote, you’ll need to call one of its broker centres. NFU Mutual tends to perform well when we analyse car insurance, offering a lifetime guarantee on repairs and purporting to have a ‘no-quibble’ approach to claims.
Use cashback sites to get even cheaper cover
Another type of comparison site is the cashback site. As the name suggests, these sites – such as Quidco and TopCashback – pay you a cash reward when you click through from them to buy goods or financial products.
These are worth checking out while you shop around for deals, but they won’t necessarily offer you the best value deals, even with cashback included.
A £300 insurance policy with £75 cashback is far from a bargain if you can get the same cover elsewhere for £150.
How much does car insurance cost?
How much you’ll pay for car insurance depends on a range of factors, from your age, the type of vehicle you own and where you live, to your marital status and past driving history.
Several organisations track prices within car insurance pricing and regularly publish trends. Differing calculation methods and dates of publication can mean that the average figures don’t always align.
While this range of figures outlines what your ‘average’ person might pay (or be quoted), in real life there isn’t an ‘average’ car insurance customer.
Insurance is personally priced. This means that according to your personal circumstances, you might find that you pay a lot more or less than the figures cited above.
What affects your car insurance premium?
Factors that could make your insurance more expensive include:
- being younger or newly qualified (though some older drivers also pay more)
- living in a postcode with a higher rate of motor accidents or crime
- having a more expensive and/or more powerful car
- a very high or very low annual mileage
- a job title seen as high risk by insurers
- any driving convictions and past claims
- parking your car on the street rather than in a garage.
While you may not be able to change insurers’ views of you, read on for several ways you can bring down the cost of car insurance.
What level of car insurance cover do I need?
There are three levels of car insurance:
- Third party only (TP): the legal minimum, only covering damage to other people, their vehicles and property.
- Third party, fire and theft (TPF&T): third party cover, plus cover for your car if it’s stolen or damaged by a fire.
- Fully comprehensive: third party, fire and theft cover, plus damage to your vehicle in an accident.
The cover offered by fully comprehensive policies can still vary hugely.
Why comprehensive car insurance could be cheaper
Drivers who are typically offered the least competitive prices (such as younger drivers) may be tempted to opt for a lower level of cover to reduce the premium. However, it’s worth checking the prices of each level of cover as, sometimes, counterintuitively, comprehensive cover costs less than TP or TPF&T.
The reason is insurers don’t just price policies according to the level of cover, but also according to how much they’re paying out in claims for the drivers buying it.
Where less comprehensive policies are bought overwhelmingly by drivers that tend to claim more, insurers will work this into their pricing, making them more expensive.
Car insurance add-ons
Even comprehensive cover won’t cover every eventuality. Insurers offer various add-ons, which you may or may not need:
Find out more: car insurance add-ons and fees explained
Cheap car insurance if you’ve got a big no-claims discount
If you go several years without making a car insurance claim, you could receive a no-claims discount (NCD) of more than 60%.
However, a big NCD doesn’t mean you’re getting the best price on your insurance:
- An NCD might not make up for a high premium – a 30% NCD on a £1,000 premium is better than a 50% NCD on a £1,500 premium.
- An NCD isn’t a discount for loyalty – you can often take it to other insurers.
- NCD protection won’t stop your premium from rising after a claim.
When you seek quotes from new insurers, you’ll be asked how many years of no-claims you have. You may be asked to back this up with evidence.
Bear in mind that different insurers have different NCD policies, and may set different maximums for the number of claims-free years recognised in your NCD.
Cheap car insurance for younger drivers, learner drivers and new drivers
If you’re aged under 25, learning to drive, or you’re newly qualified to drive, getting car insurance can be an expensive business.
While learning, you can buy dedicated learner driver car insurance or opt to be a named driver on someone else’s policy.
Once qualified, you may find the cheapest quotes are for black box policies. These could reward you for driving more safely than the average driver; other policies may suit drivers with relatively low mileage.
Choosing a cheaper car to insure, adding an older named driver to your policy and adding a higher voluntary excess can reduce your premium – though in the latter case make sure the excess is an amount you could afford to pay yourself if your car was damaged.
Also consider additional courses such as Pass Plus, which can get you a discount from some insurers.
Cheap car insurance for over-50s
Although car insurance premiums tend to decrease as you get older, they can begin to rise in your 70s and 80s.
Some insurance providers market themselves at over-50s drivers – but they won’t necessarily be the cheapest option.
We recommend continuing to get quotes from all providers to see how the over-50s specialists compare. Some over-50s insurers may offer additional perks, such as extended cover for driving overseas.
Find out more: car insurance for the over-50s
Cheap car insurance for low-mileage drivers
If you drive significantly less than the national average mileage (5,300 miles a year, according to the Department for Transport), you may be charged more for insurance than higher mileage drivers.
Some insurers now offer policies that charge by the mile, tracking your mileage using a telematics device (black box) or linking directly to your car’s electronics.
It’s worth comparing the quotes you’re getting from these providers with quotes from more traditional car insurers.
If you only need access to a car for a short time, consider getting temporary car insurance, or a policy with a rolling monthly contract that can be cancelled without incurring significant fees.
Find out more: black box car insurance for low mileage drivers
Cheap car insurance for electric cars
It’s now much easier to get your electric vehicle (EV) insured – but you may find premiums can be high, with insurers blaming high repair costs.
You also need to consider cover for batteries and for charging cables.
Find out more: our guide to electric car insurance walks you through picking a policy and how to save money.
Cheap Gap insurance for new cars
Guaranteed asset protection (Gap ) insurance covers the difference between what your new car cost you, and what an insurer would pay out if it was stolen or written off.
New cars depreciate very quickly, so your insurer could pay out thousands of pounds less than you might expect.
Gap insurance can be particularly useful for people who buy cars on finance, as they’ll be in debt for the original cost of the car.
While many people buy Gap insurance from their car dealer, they’re unlikely to be getting the cheapest price. You should compare quotes, as you would for your main insurance policy.
Find out more: what to look for when choosing GAP insurance
Cheap car insurance for classic cars
Owners of classic cars – defined by HMRC as cars over 15 years old with a value of £15,000 or more – might struggle to get car insurance from mainstream insurers.
It’s still worth getting quotes from comparison sites, but also seek quotes from specialist classic car insurers and brokers.
Joining an owners’ club may also give you discounts on car insurance policies.
Find out more: how to save on classic car insurance
Cheap car insurance for modified cars
Whether your car has been modified for a disability, or to give it a unique look, insurance can become more complicated – and more costly.
You’ll need to notify your insurer about any modifications, at which point it may increase your premium.
A modified car insurance policy covers your car and any modifications you or a previous owner has made.
Find out more: modified car insurance explained
How to haggle for cheap car insurance
While insurers are banned from charging you more just because you’re renewing, they could still come up with other reasons to raise your premium. Haggling is your chance to change their mind.
Find out more: how to haggle to get the best deal
Watch out for car insurance scams
If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. Here are some car insurance scams to watch out for:
Ghost-brokers are scammers posing as car insurance brokers; they can be found thriving on social media platforms. A Which? investigation in 2022 found 36 social media profiles – operating across three websites – that touted cheap insurance and appeared to be run by scammers.
Ghost-brokers claim to be able to arrange cheap cover for hard-to-insure customers, but to do this they will secretly manipulate their customers’ details by, for instance, changing addresses, driving histories and adding named drivers.
Victims will sometimes be provided with doctored documents to mask the amendments. The resulting policy looks fine to start with, but it will be found to be worthless if the driver tries to claim. Long after the ghost-broker has made off with their fee, the average victim is £1,950 down and may face further consequences for having owned a fraudulent policy.
Insurance scams tend to run more smoothly when the policies are linked to real people, making identity theft a key part of the professional insurance fraudster’s toolkit.
Details such as names, addresses and ages are often sold online, and originate from an array of sources – for instance, data leaks from companies or hacked emails.
Sometimes, insurers are the weak link. A report by security company Pindrop claims that ‘voice fraud’ is rife in insurance. This is where impostors try to convince call handlers they’re genuine customers, usually to obtain information about those customers or access their policies.
Crash for cash
‘Crash for cash’ is where car insurance claims result from fake or deliberately staged road accidents – for example, a fraudster inducing an accident by braking suddenly in heavy traffic.
In 2021, the Insurance Fraud Bureau released an analysis of 2.7 million car insurance claims that were made between October 2019 and December 2020. It believed 170,000 of those claims were linked to suspected networks carrying out crash for cash scams.
How to protect yourself
Insurance brokers should be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The Financial Services Register lists details of all of the firms, individuals and other bodies that are currently regulated by the FCA.
You can also check if your policy is listed on the Motor Insurers’ Bureau’s Motor Insurance Database. This records the policy details of all vehicles insured in the UK – if your vehicle is not listed, your policy is not legitimate.
If you’ve received suspicious correspondence from an insurer, let the insurer know as soon as possible using contact details you have verified independently. It’s also worth keeping a close eye on your credit report – this will allow you to pick up on any searches by companies you don’t recognise, which could indicate a fraudulent application made in your name.
If you think you’ve been the victim of any type of fraud, contact the police. Take photographs, make sketches and gather documentation or any other details that might be useful to an investigation.
Find out more: what to do if you’re a victim of identity theft
13 more ways to get cheap car insurance
You don’t have to simply accept the first quote you get from an insurer, as there are plenty of legal tactics you can use to cut the cost of your car insurance.
Got more questions on car insurance? Take a look at our guides:
- How do I make a car insurance claim?
- Car-insurance no claims bonus explained
- Car insurance: add-ons, fees and charges explained
- Modified car insurance explained
- Electric car insurance explained
- How black box car insurance works
- Learner driver car insurance explained
- Temporary car insurance explained
- Multi-car insurance guide
- Gap insurance explained
- How to insure a classic car