January 16th, 2020 at 12:16 pm
The golden advice when sourcing a vehicle for a new teenager driver is to go for the best and newest you can afford. With this comes the latest safety technology and features – statistics dictate they may well need it. So don’t skimp on the car. Insurance costs, however, are fair game. You know they will be eye-watering but there are things you can do to get that premium down.
Avoid car modifications
Anything that increases power and performance is going to be a red flag to any insurance company. Equally, decorative effects like spoilers and body kits will increase premiums by a significant amount. Insurers know that those (usually male – statistically) teenage drivers who want to decorate or personalise their car are more likely to be competitive when they drive, show off and take unacceptable risks. This all equates to a higher premium.
Pay annually rather than monthly
The temptation with a large sum is to pay it monthly but it works out cheaper if you can pay it at the start in one hit. Basically, when you pay monthly, you pay an interest charge as the money is effectively lent to you. If you can avoid the Direct Debit then it will save you something from the total amount.
Choose a car in a cheaper insurance group
Choosing a car within a cheaper insurance group does not necessarily mean compromising on safety features. Many small less powerful cars (particularly electric cars) are bristling with airbags and safety technology but can still fall within the lowest insurance groups. Remember, there are now 50 vehicle categories. Some of the most popular choices in Classes 1 and 2 are the Kia Rio, the VW Polo and the Nissa Micra. Because each car has a variety of styling and variation, you will need to check carefully that the actual model you have picked out does fall within the insurance group you expect it to. The Vauxhall Corsa and the Ford Fiesta are still on the list as Class 2. Engine capacity and the overall value of the vehicle will partly determine which class a car falls into but there is plenty of choice for a new driver who wants something smart and up to date but wants to remain within Class 1 or 2.
Black Box technology
This is top of most young driver’s list for a premium reduction. Not every insurer will offer Black Box policies or telematics as they are sometimes called. Basically, an app or fitted device within the vehicle monitors the driver’s behaviour and also records when and where they drive. The premium can, therefore, be tailored to some degree to usage rather than the blanket effect of everyone else’s driving behaviour and claim history in the 17-21 age group.
Black box policies can reduce premiums by around half providing the driver behaves well and is not involved in an accident. The actual black box is about the size of a matchbox, usually installed behind the dashboard so you won’t even know it is there. The technology is also known as telematics sends data to the insurer about how the driver is using the vehicle – braking, cornering, acceleration, deceleration. Based on how safely the driver is performing, a Driver Score is allocated – this changes every time that the driver gets into the car so to maintain a good score, driving must be consistent. A supporting mobile app will feedback areas for improvement such as occasions when braking was too sharp or acceleration too hard. The idea is to encourage driver’s to understand how to drive well, to educate and to promote road safety with good safe driving practises. But, the better the driver score, the lower the insurance premium.
The black box is a permanent feature on the car so if the vehicle is shared, then it will record the driving behaviour of other people and this may not support a good driving score. Some black box insurance policies may impose restrictions on where and when the vehicle can be driven and there may be mileage limitations – lower annual mileage reduces the risk of an accident. A discount may not be offered at the start of the policy but can be earned through good driver behaviour. Most industry commentators would recommend a black box insurance policy as one of the best ways to cut costs but it is important to be aware of all of the implications of this technology.
Pay a higher excess
There will be a minimum compulsory excess on any motor insurance policy but drivers can opt to increase this by adding a voluntary excess on top and thus reducing the policy premium. An excess for a young driver can be around £500 and it’s worth considering how this cost may be met in the event of an accident. Statistics dictate that this is more rather than less likely.
Opt for third party cover rather than fully comprehensive
Third party is the most basic level of car insurance, it covers the cost of repairing or replacing another driver’s car in the event of an accident and also compensation for any injuries they sustain. There is no cover for the insured’s own vehicle so damage or write off will have to be funded privately.
There is no doubt that if a young driver avoids driving at night, restricts their mileage, has a black box fitted and third party only cover then their premium for the first year of motoring could be quite acceptable. The problem is that accidents amongst young drivers are based on genuine errors due to lack of experience so it doesn’t matter how carefully they drive, statistically, they are still likely to have an accident. So third party cover is not perhaps quite so attractive after all. Also, third party cover is traditionally only chosen by new young drivers in order to reduce premiums so rather perversely, it can work out as being more expensive than fully comprehensive cover.
There is no such thing as cheap car insurance for young drivers, only degrees of expensiveness. Ultimately the best way to reduce cost is to stay accident-free and keep out of trouble.