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Cheap student car insurance

The cost of car insurance for young drivers is averaging at £1,300 a year. Cut the costs substantially with our easy-to-follow guide for students!car insurance

Owning a car isn't cheap, so driving as a university student is pretty much a luxury! Not only do you have to fork out for your wheels, but you also have to think about road tax, fuel and regular MOT tests.

However, car insurance is by far the biggest drain for any young driver, as premiums tend to be way higher when you're less experienced on the road for obvious (but nonetheless infuriatingly unfair) reasons.

Younger, less experienced drivers are statistically more likely to make a claim than those who've been driving for years, so this in turn increases student premiums  – despite younger people being the least likely to be able to afford it!

With this in mind, we thought it'd be worth taking a proper look at some of the ways that students can significantly reduce their car insurance premium.

We've also included our favourite trick of comparing 100s of providers in a matter of minutes – check it out below!

Understanding the basics

car insurance
First thing's first! As it is with most expenses in life, understanding exactly what it is you're paying for is the first step towards saving some cash on your car insurance.

You could easily be shelling out more than you need to be without realising, just because you've chosen a type of cover that isn't suited to your particular situation.

The cost of your overall package depends on three things:

  1. the level of cover you go for
  2. your own personal level of risk (i.e. how likely you are to have an accident or need to make a claim).
  3. the insurance company you choose

We can help you make the right choices on all of these which will lower your car insurance cost.

Choosing the right level of cover

car snowCredit: Joseph Depalma – Flickr.com
One of the obvious things you need to consider when buying car insurance is – what cover do I actually want or need?

There are three main types of cover that you can get:

  • Third party only insurance
  • Third party, fire and theft insurance
  • Fully comprehensive insurance

The obvious assumption would be that the cheapest option would be third party insurance, as that offers the least amount of cover (it only covers your back if you do any damage to someone else's car or property), but don't be fooled!

Some students have reported saving up to £1000 just by switching from third party to comprehensive cover, so don't make any assumptions. The only solid advice we can give you here is just do as much research as possible and explore all of your options until you're sure you've found the best deal.

Third party car insurance

This is thought of as the cheapest type of cover available (although, as mentioned, this is not always the case). Third party covers damage and medical claims of other people, should you be liable for those damages in an accident.

If your own car gets damaged then you will unfortunately have to cover the cost yourself (making this cover great for old bangers but probably not the best choice if you've got a brand new pride and joy).

Third party, fire & theft

This is probably our top pick for student car insurance cover. TPFF cover can often be the most affordable option, but also offers theft cover – which can be important if you are living in a city for university and don't have anywhere safe to keep your car.

Remember that you're still not covered for damages to your own vehicle with this option if you cause an accident, though.

Comprehensive insurance

This option has you completely covered – if you cause an accident or are a victim of one, then your car, their car and both of your medical costs will be covered (up to a certain point, of course).

If you are accident prone then we recommend getting comprehensive cover to pay for damages – skimping now just to save an immediate buck or two could mean you end up having to shell out loads later.

The trick is just to be completely honest both with yourself and the insurer, as honesty goes a long way in the insurance game!

Choosing the right type of premium

questionsCredit:Véronique Debord-Lazaro – Flickr.com
If you're not going to be driving much whilst you're at uni, it can be more worthwhile taking out short-term car insurance or opting for a 'pay as/how you drive' product (also called telematics insurance).

The standard type of car insurance that drivers would normally go for entails choosing a policy that covers you and your car (to whichever level you've chosen from the above) at a set rate for the whole year. However, these types of premiums aren't likely to be the best option for young people, as rates tend to be higher for under 25s.

Instead, we'd recommend going for a more specialist policy which will give you the opportunity to have your premiums cut down either due to infrequent driving or as a reward for driving safely on the roads.

There are two key types of specialist policies to consider: pay as you drive (PAYD) and pay how you drive (PHYD) – both are often referred to as telematic or 'black box insurance' due to the fact that both work by having a small box fitted to your car to measure how and when you drive.

Pay as you drive (PAYD)

happy car driverCredit: State Farm – Flickr.com
This option is basically the same as a pay as you go mobile contract – you only pay for cover as and when you use your car, meaning it's a great option if you use your car infrequently.
As mentioned, this option involves having a device fitted to your car that monitors how far and how frequently you drive, and charges you according to that (some insurers charge for sending out an engineer to fit the black box, so be aware of this).

It's not always the cheaper option, but this little black box could massively reduce your student car insurance premium if you work it to your advantage, so it's well worth checking out the costs.

Here's a few options currently on the market for PAYD:

  1. Cover Box – Your insurance price will depend on the amount of miles you drive as well as the time of day/night that you choose to drive. If you don't drive at night (considered more dangerous) then this is an option to consider
  2. iKube – Exclusively for young drivers (17-25), iKube is great if you don't plan on driving between 11pm – 5am
  3. Insure The Box – Choose your yearly miles (6000+) topping up if necessary, or you can even earn more through safe driving.

Pay how you drive (PHYD)

car accident insuranceCredit:Andrew Steinmetz – Flickr.com
Pay how you drive also involves having a GPS box attached to your car. PHYD is almost the same as PAYD, and there's a lot of crossover between the two, but PHYD tends to focus more on how safely you drive as opposed to how many miles you do.

These black boxes keep an eye on a number of factors including acceleration, braking, cornering speed and much more to determine what sort of driver you are and set your premium accordingly.

Fancy yourself a safe driver? If so, this might be the option for you!

Bonus: These boxes also act as an anti-theft device, allowing police to track via GPS. This means that if anyone is dumb enough to try and steal your wheels, it will get tracked down pretty sharpish!

The best Pay How You Drive options we've come across are:

  1. Co-op Young Driver Insurance – They keep track of your driving for a period of 90 days, and then decide on the insurance cost based on this
  2. Ingenie – With the slogan 'drive well, pay less', Ingenie are a good option for young people as they check your black box every three months and reduce your premium if you've been driving safely
  3. Drive like a Girl – Once you get past the sexist name, this is actually quite a good option (and open to men too!). Drivers are rewarded for safe driving and avoiding getting behind the wheel between 11pm -4am.

Be warned, however, that whilst good driving is rewarded with telematic insurance, bad driving could see your policy cancelled which is a serious black mark on your driving history.

Temporary student car insurance

Student Car InsuranceShort-term or temporary car insurance is when you arrange to only pay for the short time you will be driving. For example, you may not want to take your car to university and only drive it when you are at home for the holidays.

With temporary car insurance, you're normally able to insure yourself for anything between 1-28 days cover.

Be warned that you are now legally obliged to insure any tax-registered car even if it's locked in your parents' garage and isn't going anywhere during term time. The only way around this is if you obtain a statutory off-road notice (SORN) from the DVLA – read more here.

If you're not keen on insuring your car for the whole year when you only plan on driving it when you're home for the holidays, it might be worth considering selling your car and simply taking out cover that will allow you to drive your parents' car (if they'll let you, that is!) during the summer months.

Note that temporary insurance often isn't available to drivers under the age of 21, and is almost impossible to take out if you have history of making claims or any points on your license.

8 common car insurance mistakes to avoid

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  1. Never put someone else as main driver

    It might seem like a good idea to add one of your parents to the insurance (perfectly legal) and name them as the main driver in order to bring the cost down (totally illegal – this is called 'fronting').

    The repercussions of this trick – a hefty fine, cancelled policy and a black mark for future insurers – just ain't worth it!

  2. Don't lie in your application

    We've all been there! A little white lie on an insurance application might make it appear as if you'll be making super savings, but it's classed as fraud and can even result in a criminal record. This is serious business!

    Tell the truth and you'll be safe (well, to an extent –  we can't vouch for your driving).

  3. Never auto-renew your policy

    You would think that opting to renew your policy automatically with a company would get you a good deal, but this is exactly how they sting you! Insurance companies hike their prices each year, and they count on your complacency as a way to make cash.

    Set a calendar reminder and do your research again – changing policies year by year is perfectly normal and could save you a lot of dough.

  4. Don't under-insure to get a lower premium

    If your car is worth £6,000, you need to insure it for that amount.

    Pretending that your car is worth less will of course bring your premium down, but if your insurer catches on to your game, they'll not only pay out less for any damages but they could even choose to withdraw your policy.

  5. Don't assume that the cheapest option is right for you

    As we covered earlier, Third Party insurance might seem like the best and cheapest option at first glance, but in reality it could result in you paying out way more cash to cover yourself if you're involved in any accidents.

    The trick is, as always, to do your research and do it thoroughly!

  6. Don't pay in monthly installments

    We know it's a big ask to pay out for the whole year in one go, but unfortunately if you opt to pay in monthly installments you could be paying anything up to 30% + APR in interest.

    If you can't afford to pay it all in one go, consider paying it with a 0% credit card which you can then pay off in installments throughout the year.

  7. Don't let your insurance run out

    Yes, we know, we've made this a bit difficult by saying you shouldn't auto-renew your policy, but whilst auto-renewing is financially risky, it's even more risky to let your insurance policy expire before you take out a new one.

    Protect yourself by setting a calendar reminder a couple of weeks before your policy is due to expire and get on the hunt for a new one ASAP.

  8. Don't assume fully comp means you can drive your mates' cars

    This is a major school boy error of judgement – generally, your fully comprehensive will only cover you for driving the car that you're registered to. Make sure you read your policy thoroughly and know exactly what you're covered for.

7 tips for lowering your costs

riskandrewardA great way to save you money on your student car insurance is by taking the time to lower your risk level, or in other words, show insurers that the chances of you costing them any money is pretty slim.

All you're doing is convincing the insurer that you're a safe driver and at a lower risk of making a claim (without lying). This can save you hundreds each year, so listen up!

  1. Opt for a higher excess

    Your student car insurance excess is the amount you're willing to pay out your own pocket if you get into a crash that's your fault.

    For a lot of students the excess will be set at a certain level. For example, if your excess is £500 and you get into a crash that causes £3,000 of damage, you'll have to pay £500 from your own pocket before the insurance company will cough up the rest to cover the repairs.

    If you volunteer to have a higher excess then the insurer will take some money off of your premium (you're basically saying "I think the chances of me causing an accident are so slim that I'll offer to pay a large sum from my own pocket if I do").

    Therefore, it's important to be realistic here as you don't want to squander your hard work trying to save money by having to fork out major cash if you have a crash.

  2. Don't add modifications

    toy car modifications
    Spoilers, neon lights, tinted windows… none of these are a good idea from an insurance perspective (neither is gluing hundreds of cuddly toys to the paintwork – just FYI). Not only are they unimpressive to the general public, they don't impress insurers either!

    Their assumption is that your car will be more attractive to thieves if you add on extra cosmetic features, and the obvious stereotype that you're likely to be cruising about town revving your engine like a boy racer is there too.

  3. Take a Pass Plus Test

    Pass Plus tests are government run tests that offer new drivers a chance to show they're confident in various different circumstances on the road.  By taking the Pass Plus, you could decrease your premium by up to a whopping 30%.

    There's no set cost for the Pass Plus scheme as it depends on your instructor, but we estimate that you'll probably be paying around £140 (although some students have been known to get onto the course for £100. For more info check here). This might seem like a lot to fork out for the test now, but it'll be worth it in the long run!

  4. Park off-road and increase safety

    no parking Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov – Flickr.com
    If you can manage to secure off-road parking or a space in a garage then you'll see your premium drop substantially, so this might be something worth considering when looking at accommodation. Basically, if the insurer feels that your car will be more secure, then your premium will drop.

    You can also cut your costs by increasing the general safety of your car. Grab yourself a wheel lock, a car alarm and make sure that you tell your insurer about them!

  5. Build up a No-Claims Bonus

    If you've never had a crash before, you'll have built up a no claims bonus – if you save one for around 6 years you could even be eligible for as much as a 60% discount. However, the minute you have to claim for something the bonus is scrapped, so this is a big incentive to take as much care on the roads as you possibly can.

    Most students won't have been driving long enough to get a massive no-claims bonus, so this is more just a heads up for the future – another reason to avoid any scuffles on the road!

  6. Add a named driver

    As mentioned earlier in this article, this is a special tactic to reduce your student car insurance premiums. Simply add an experienced driver as a named driver and this will lower the price of your premium. This will (in theory, of course!) lower the risk of an accident in your insurer's mind simply because the more names added to the policy, the less time you'll spend behind the wheel.

    Again, we just have to stress that you can't you name the experienced driver as main driver of your car if that's not the case. This manoeuver (called 'fronting') is well-known by insurers and if you get caught, the repercussions are tough.

  7. Choose the right car

    toy carCredit: Team Dalog – Flickr.com
    Taking a step back and thinking carefully about the kind of car you want to drive will ultimately determine your insurance premium. Choosing a powerful car with a soft-top roof will set you back way more than VW Polo – the 'safer' your car the less you'll pay, essentially.

    Check out thatcham.org or this guide from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) for a bit more info on which cars are in which 'class' for insurers, as well as which cars are safest on the road.

Car Insurance comparison trick

As each comparison site only has a select number of insurance companies listed (and some companies aren't even featured on comparison sites), using just one site to look for the best car insurance deal really isn't enough research to ensure you're getting the best price.

We've tried and tested the following method, which involves taking a few simple steps to maximise the number of companies that you compare to squeeze out the most accurate results.

Just remember to keep track of all the best prices you spot whilst doing the comparison trick to help you make your decision at the end.

  1. Check GoCompare.com

    Gocompare car insuranceThe first of three comparison sites you should use, and we recommend starting with this one. It doesn't take long to fill in the forms on Go Compare and it has prices from 125 top car insurers.

    Compare now »

  2. Check Confused.com

    Confused car insuranceNext give Confused.com a few minutes as they often feature some insurers that other comparison sites miss out.

    Compare now »

  3. CompareTheMarket

    Comparethemarket car insuranceOnce you compare with these guys, you'll have just about covered all of the suppliers on offer to students.

    Compare now »

  4. Check Endsleigh

    Endsleigh car insuranceEndsleigh are a well known and respected student insurance company who also offer car insurance. They're included on the comparison sites, but you can also get a discount if you go to them direct.

    Have a look now »

  5. Have a look at Direct Line

    Direct line car insuranceDirect Line choose not to be featured on comparison sites, so it's worth having a quick check of what they offer to make see if they can beat your current prices.

    Have a look now »

By using our quick comparison trick, you'll be able to whittle your options down to a few that are suitable. Once you've tried this and compiled a list of the best options (plus any pay as you drive options that might interest you) then you can jump on the phone and start haggling!

Haggling and discounts

HagglingThere's a whole lot of competing going on in the car insurance world, and students are a particular market that insurers are keen to get their mitts on seeing as their premiums tend to be some of the highest going.

This means that insurers are just dying to get you in their books, so use this to your advantage!

Although, be aware that you might not always get the best deal even after haggling – keep your options open and keep shopping around.

There are some discounts you could be entitled to, so these are worth mentioning during the haggling process:

Multi-policy discount – if you come from a household with lots of cars, some insurers will give you a discounted rate if you insure all of them with the same company. Some insurers even allow you to insure all cars on one policy at a cheaper rate, so this is definitely worth enquiring about.

No-claims discount – if you've never made a claim before, they might be willing to lower your premium

Introductory discount – some companies offer an introductory discount which will then decrease or be removed depending your driving.

If you feel like you could do with a bit of support on how to haggle then check out our handy guide on how to haggle here.

And finally…

Always double check your cover!

Of course, it goes without saying for all of the options and tips above that you should always make sure you check your cover fully. Make sure you read through all of the small print and possible clauses that you may get stung by.

Think about what's important to you, and decide on your cover according to your needs, not just the price tag!

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