Car insurance is a really complex area, with dozens of companies all giving different kinds of cover. And because of the way quotes are tailor made for individuals, there’s little freely available price information so you have no idea what’s a good quote and when your insurer’s taking advantage of you.
Fed up with not knowing where to look?
In this article, we’re going to try to sum up the market to give you a feel for what you might pay. We’ll look at different types of driver – young, older, with points on their licence – and at different locations. We’ll also consider the cheapest insurers for different types of car and different levels of cover. You should get a good idea of where to look for a quote – and how much you might need to pay.
Why is car insurance so complicated?
Car insurance is complex because an insurer is looking at a whole bunch of different risks when they make you a quote – you as a driver, your car, the area where you live, and even your mileage, can make a big difference to the policy premium.
For instance an insurer will want to look at the following factors:
- Your age – younger drivers and those with less experience present a higher risk.
- Your driving record – do you have points on your licence?
- Your claims record – have you made multiple claims over the last few years?
- Your car – reliable, boring run-around or souped-up racer?
- The value of your car – how much would it cost to replace if it’s written off?
- Where you live – if you live in an area where car theft is common, expect your premiums to go up.
- The use you make of the car – if you drive for business, expect to pay more than if you only use your car to go to the supermarket or drive to your five-a-side match at weekends.
- Your mileage – the more you drive, the more likely you are to have an accident. Low mileage car users (below 5,000 miles a year) will get cheaper premiums.
- The level of cover you choose.
- Any extras that you want to add to the policy, such as a guaranteed courtesy car, or legal cover.
That’s quite a list. And considering the UK has 1.7 million postcodes and a vast number of different car models, often available with different engine sizes and stylings, you can imagine just how many different combinations there are!
Other factors that make car insurance in UK complicated
Different car insurance companies have different sweet spots. Some high volume insurers will offer the cheapest insurance for low risk drivers – a 40 year old with a clean licence driving a Ford Focus, for example. Some smaller companies go for niche, higher risk markets such as young drivers or those with motoring convictions, or specialised markets such as kit cars, modded cars and classics or vintage motors.
And like other areas of business, insurance market conditions can change very quickly. That’s the cheapest car insurance today might look quite expensive in six months’ time.
None the less, we’ve looked at quotes from different insurers and come up with some advice on ‘typical’ insurance policies for various categories of user. That should give you a good idea of where to look and how much you might pay.
How to make sure you get the cheapest car insurance?
The best way to ensure you get the best deal is to shop around – use insurance comparison sites, look for cheap car insurance companies and compare car insurance quotes from as many as you can.
But that can be difficult to do quickly. Lots of sites want all your details and have exhaustive questionnaires before you get to a quote. Compare on Safe and it’s quick, anonymous, and free.
Which insurers are cheapest for younger drivers?
If you’re a young driver looking for cheap car insurance you’ll know it’s not easy to find. Young drivers represent a high risk as far as insurers are concerned and premiums can be high – well over the £1,000 mark.
Your best bet is to go for a black box policy. This type of policy uses telematics, through a device installed in your car, to track your driving – reducing the risk to the insurer. All but one of our top ten picks are black box policies.
The following companies have a good record in providing quotes for younger drivers. But you should still compare car insurance online to make sure you’ve got the best quote for your particular circumstances.
While the rankings are slightly different by region, all these insurers rank among the cheapest car insurance for 17-20s around the UK.
Cheapest car insurance for drivers over 21 years old
When you turn 21 the world looks a little different – at least in car insurance terms – with the entry of Admiral, Elephant and Diamond among the cheapest insurers. And fewer of the top ten are telematics policies – only Admiral Little Box, My Policy and General Accident.
Which insurers are cheapest for older drivers?
Older drivers generally get better rates. Drivers over 50 pay only £398 on average for their car insurance – way under the average.
One name you’d expect to see in car insurance for the 61+ driver is SAGA – and it figures among the ten cheapest in most regions. But Admiral, Elephant and Diamond are at the top of the list for the cheapest car insurance for seniors.
Car insurance – compare quotes for drivers aged 61+
Which insurers are cheapest in London?
London drivers pay the most expensive insurance premiums in the UK, at £1,460 according to a report in the Evening Standard. At those prices, it’s got to be worth doing a proper car insurance comparison to make sure you get the best car insurance at an affordable price.
Quotes for London car insurance
Which insurers are cheapest in different regions?
According to Which? magazine, drivers in the South-West have the good luck to get the cheapest car insurance in the UK. Scotland and Wales also get cheaper insurance than the average, while drivers in the North-West (which includes the large conurbations of Manchester and Liverpool) are the second highest payers behind Londoners.
If you live in the inner city you’ll probably find your premiums are higher than those of rural dwellers, but at least you won’t be paying London premiums.
Which insurers are cheapest for different types of car?
Insurers who are very competitive for hatchbacks and family estates may not give the best car insurance quotes for performance cars or classics. Car insurance comparison sites often want you to enter your exact car model and trim – but as a very quick car insurance check you can look at the table below.
If you have a modded car or a kit car you might want to check out our page about insurance and car modifications before you get a car insurance quote.
If you have a classic car (and that can include recent classics as well as true vintage), check out our Classic car insurance page and compare insurance quotes.
Cheapest car insurance per coverage: third party, third party fire & theft, fully comp
You can choose three different levels of cover for your car:
- Third party only – this insurance protects other people and their cars and property. If you crash, it will pay the other driver (‘third party’) for any damage caused, but it won’t pay for repairs to your own car. You’d expect this to be very cheap car insurance, but because it’s often applied for by people who can’t afford fully comp insurance because they’re high risk drivers, it can turn out to be quite expensive.
- Third party fire and theft adds two important covers; if your car is damaged by fire, or if it’s stolen (including if it is damaged in an attempt to steal it). It’s often not more expensive than third party only.
- Fully comprehensive insurance, which includes cover if you damage your car in an accident, or in the event of other accidents (eg a tree falls on your car in a storm, or a flood damages it). Fully comp often includes cover for courtesy car provision while your car is repaired, cover for your possessions in the car, and personal injury or legal cover. All the other examples in this article are for fully comp insurance.
Cheapest car insurance for third party only coverage
Third party only is not a very commonly requested type of insurance and some insurers don’t offer it at all. More specialist companies than big insurers show up in the list.
When you come to third party fire & theft, on the other hand, the big insurers are prepared to offer cover. Several of them are very competitive.
Cheapest car insurance for third party fire and theft
Cheapest car insurance for fully comprehensive cover
All these policies include personal injury cover, and all but one include a courtesy car. However only three (Tesco, One Call and Quote Me Happy) include legal cover as standard.
Which insurers are cheapest if you’ve got points on your licence?
Although the financial adverts say “past performance is no guarantee of future results”, insurers believe that it is. If you’ve got a driving conviction already, they reckon that you’re more likely than other drivers to get even more points on your licence. So when you go for an insurance quote you might get significantly more than your previous renewal quote.
We looked at the right insurance for a driver with a single minor conviction – speeding or jumping a red light. If you’ve been convicted of drink driving or a more serious motoring offence, you might need touse a specialist insurer – check out our page on Convictions and car insurance.