What to look for when getting car insurance (a step by step guide)

18 October 2018

Whether you’re fresh from your local test centre or have covered more miles than a Formula One Driver, finding the right car insurance for you can be a minefield. But never fear. All you need is our step by step guide and our expert team. With these at your disposal, there will lbe no bumps in the road.

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How do I apply for Car Insurance?

You can apply directly to insurance companies, either online or over the phone. However, this is time consuming and you may not get the most competitive deal. So, make sure you use a comparison site.

A comparison site works by comparing car insurance quotes from the UK’s leading and independent Car Insurance companies. All you are required to do is enter your details while the site will do the hard comparison work for you automatically.

What is Car insurance and why do I need it?

You know you need car insurance, but you may not fully understand what it is - or why you need it! This is understandable due to terminology and jargon insurance companies sometimes use.

First and foremost, car insurance is a legal requirement. If you’re caught driving without insurance, penalties include: 6 points on your licence, an unlimited fine, impounding and destroying your vehicle or you could even be disqualified from driving.

Your Insurance Company will pay out if you are involved in an accident (which was your fault), if your car is stolen or vandalised. Your insurance will also pay for any damage you cause to other road users, the public or their property.

However, your level of cover depends on the insurance policy you take out (which we will move onto shortly).

What if I am involved in accident that wasn’t my fault?

If you are involved in an accident where you were not at fault, your insurance provider is not liable to pay. In this instance, the at fault driver’s insurance provider will pay out.

If you are involved in an accident and you were not at fault, you must still inform your insurance provider as soon as possible.

What levels of cover will I be offered?

Insurance companies offer different levels of cover depending on the needs of the driver. The most popular are: Third Party, Third Party Fire and Theft and Fully Comprehensive.

What do these levels of cover mean and which is the right level of cover for me?

Third Party

Third Party car insurance is the lowest of cover offered to drivers and is the minimum legal requirement in the UK. The level of cover includes: liability for injury to others and any damage to third property only. Not all insurance companies offer this type of policy however.

Third Party Fire and Theft

Third Party Fire and Theft covers third parties involved in and accident plus, your car in the case of fire or theft. It is important to note that some third-party policies will not cover any damages to your vehicle.

These levels of cover may be suited to infrequent drivers or those looking for the cheapest deal. However, Third Party cover isn’t always the cheapest option. Spend time comparing car insurance quotes and you may get fully comprehensive cover for cheaper.

Fully Comprehensive

A Fully Comprehensive policy covers: You, your car, any passengers and any property damaged by an accident. It also covers all third parties involved in an accident. This level of cover also protects your car from theft, fire and vandalism.

Fully Comprehensive cover provides the highest level of cover. Some policies allow you to drive other cars, not all policies include this however. So, before you take a spin in someone else’s car, make sure you read your policy documents and of course get the owner’s permission.

Sort fact from fiction

Are red cars more expensive to insure? Will I lose my No Claims Bonus if I switch providers? There are so many myths and common misconceptions surrounding car insurance. Before you begin your application, do a little myth-busting. Thankfully we have done the hard work for you and debunked some of the most common car insurance myths.

Your Policy, Premium and application

Now we know what car insurance is, why we need it and the levels of cover offered, let’s move on to the exciting part: applying for your policy!

But what is a policy and how is it different to a premium, I thought we were finished jargon busting you ask?

But, of course, we have you covered.

Your Policy

Your policy includes all aspects of your cover including, length, terms and conditions. The policy is what you purchase from your insurance provider and is renewed annually.

Your Premium

Your premium is the cost of your policy. You can pay your premium upfront or you can pay monthly. If you choose to pay monthly, you will be required to pay a deposit amount upfront. This will be deducted from the total cost of your premium, and then the rest of your policy will be divided into monthly payments.

It is usually cheaper to purchase your policy upfront, as insurance companies charge interest on monthly payments. While not all drivers have the luxury to pay upfront for insurance, you can still get a great monthly deal by comparing car insurance quotes.

Before you begin your application

Before you begin your application, it is important you have the following to hand:

  • Personal details of each driver you intend to insure
  • Details in full of the vehicle to be insured
  • Claims or convictions details for each driver
  • Number of No Claims Bonus claimed (if applicable)

Having these to hand will speed up the process. We will ask you to read some conditions. You will need to confirm that the conditions are correct. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The driver(s) is entitled to drive in the UK legally
  • The driver(s) has a valid licence
  • Drivers do not have medical conditions that must be legally disclosed to the DVLA
  • Drivers do not have non-motoring convictions unspent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act e.g. theft, dishonesty, or fraud
  • Modifications have not been made to the vehicle from the manufacturer's standard specification

If at this stage, you cannot agree with one or more of the conditions contact the comparison site or your insurance company directly.

During your application

During your application, the comparison site or insurance provider will ask a series of questions to formulate the cost of your premium. Some of the questions are simple to answer such as your Registration Number, when you would like your policy to begin or where your car will be parked overnight.

Some of the questions are a little trickier to tackle, especially if you are applying for your first policy:

What level of Voluntary Accidental Damage Excess do you require?

A Voluntary Excess is the amount that you’re willing to volunteer if you’re involved in an accident. Your excess does impact the cost of your premium however.

You can set this zero to reduce how much you would have to pay out in the event of a claim, or you can increase it, which could reduce your premium.

Do you have any No Claims Discount available for use on this car?

Unfortunately, if you’re a new driver, you cannot take advantage of a No Claims Discount.

A No Claims Discount or No Claims Bonus is a reduction in the cost of your premium, if no claims have been made during your policy period. Your No Claims Discount entitlement can be found on your renewal notice if you have one.

What is the total annual mileage?

If you’re a new driver, this is a tricky one. The average driver in the UK has an annual mileage of 8000 miles, whilst this is a good benchmark, be realistic about your mileage expectations.

You can also use a mileage calculator online if you’re unsure. If you’re a seasoned driver, you can use your MOT history to calculate your annual mileage.

Who is the named driver?

Whilst it may sound like an easy question, the named driver must be the person who uses the car for the highest percentage of the time. Whilst it may be tempting to drastically lower the cost of your Son or Daughter’s insurance, do not consider Fronting your child’s insurance.

Fronting is when a more experienced driver (usually a Parent or an Older Sibling) declares themselves as a main driver on an insurance policy. The goal is to obtain a lower premium for a higher risk driver.

Fronting is a form of Insurance Fraud and if you’re found to be Fronting, your insurance will be automatically invalidated, and you may be taken to court.

If you’re a Parent worried about the cost of your Teenager’s insurance policy, consider a Telematics Policy. A Telematics Policy is usually considerably cheaper and includes the installation of a black box. A black box monitors driving techniques including: speed, driving style and distance.

Honesty is the best policy

It is important to be honest with your policy application. Falsifying details or even making an honest mistake during the application process can result in invalidating your cover. Before you submit your application make sure that all the information you provide is accurate and truthful.

Choosing the right policy for you

The final leg of our journey. By now you should be a fully-fledged Car Insurance Guru. You know different levels of cover available to you, your policy from your premium and mastered the art of the Voluntary Excess. We salute you!

Once you have chosen your perfect policy, all you need to do is make a payment, whether it is for the full amount or a deposit amount. This can be online or over the phone. Your policy will begin from the date you specified during your application process. Car insurance has never been so simple.

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