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Here's how to reduce your car insurance costs

Here's how to reduce your car insurance costs
Simon Moynihan

Simon Moynihan

Staff Writer

Car insurance premiums have increased by 60% in just three years and Irish drivers are now paying more than ever to insure their cars. With premiums so high, it is now essential to shop around to give yourself the best chance of beating your renewal quote and reducing the cost of your car insurance. In this article, we’ll show you how.

Car insurance is a huge annual cost for most households, and massive increases have left many drivers finding it more and more difficult to insure their cars.

Drivers with clean licenses, no claims, and no penalty points regularly report hikes in the hundreds, while insurance companies fail to provide reasonable reasons for the increases.

Even the government now considers the issue to be so import that it established the Cost of Car Insurance Working Group to look at ways to get the cost of car insurance under control.

The approach to saving hundreds on car insurance

We don’t offer a car insurance comparison for Irish drivers on yet, but we do know a thing or two about reducing the cost of car insurance.

Every year we challenge the drivers in our office to beat their renewal quotes, we’ve been successful every year, and we’ve learned a few things along the way. We often save hundreds, and our best result was to halve a comprehensive insurance renewal quote with a saving of €655 which you can read about here: “Is it still possible to get cheaper car insurance?”

Despite rising costs, car insurance is still a competitive business with dozens of insurance companies competing for your business. So, the best way to tackle your renewal quote and reduce your costs is to pitch the car insurance companies against each other.

How to get cheaper car insurance

This is our tried and tested method for beating your renewal quote:

Step 1: Your renewal letter

Treat your renewal letter as a guide. It is the highest price you will pay for car insurance this year - you can do better!

When you receive your renewal letter, don’t ignore it. Your insurance company only needs to give you 20 working days’ notice of renewal, so get on the phone and get at least three new quotes from different insurers. This will give you a good idea of the range of premium prices available for the same level of car insurance. You should be able to beat the renewal quote because most insurance companies have special deals for new customers.

In our experience, the phone is the best way to get a car insurance quote because agents can use discretionary discounts - especially if you tell them that you have a better price from another insurer.

Step 2: Consider some of the lesser known car insurance providers

This step is especially important for owners of older cars, exotics, modified cars, and cars with big engines. Some major insurance companies don’t want to insure cars like these and may offer ridiculous quotes to send you on your way.

Some insurance companies won’t insure a car that’s more than 15 years old (even with a valid NCT), and others have lists of cars and driver types that they don’t want on their books. This is where you’ll need to do some extra calling around to companies that will insure unusual cars, and not-so-perfect drivers. But it’s nearly always worth it… well, unless you’re a 18 year old male with a modified Skyline!

Step 3: Consider upping your excess

All comprehensive car insurance policies include an excess amount; this is the amount you must pay in the event of an accidental damage claim. You can usually choose how much you want this excess to be and it can make a big difference to the price you pay for car insurance.

Step 4: Contact your existing car insurance company

Once you’ve armed yourself with a few quotes, call your existing insurer. Tell them you're surprised that the premium is as high as it is (even if you're not). Ask how much it was last year, and if it’s gone up, ask why. This will tell them that you are serious about paying them as little as possible.

You can also tell your insurer the price of your best quote. Your premium is much more flexible than you may think and to keep you as a customer, your insurer will probably reduce your premium. If they do, great, but keep pushing. Ask if this is their best and final rate - you still might squeeze another few euro out of them. This should give you your best renewal rate from your existing insurer.

Step 5: Select your car insurance policy

Make your selection, call your insurer and tell them the good news - you've just given them the business so they should be happy. And you'll be starting cover with a new insurer or renewing with your existing one at a price that’s better than your renewal.

By using this approach, you should certainly save money. All it takes is a few phone calls which you won't have to make again for another year. And to save a couple of hundred euro, it’s not that much trouble really, is it?

Is there anything else you can do to reduce the cost of your car insurance?

There are a range of steps that you may consider if you’re not having much luck beating your renewal. Here’s a few:

  • Don’t insure your car for more than it’s worth. And be realistic. What could you really sell or replace your car for?
  • Consider third party cover. This is a good option for younger drivers and owners of lower value cars.
  • Gender equalisation for car insurance, which took effect in December 2012, means that you cannot be discriminated against based on your gender. It also means that men can apply for car insurance from companies that traditionally only offered car insurance to women.
  • Add a named driver to your policy. Weird as it may sound, adding another person, especially an older more experienced driver, to your policy can reduce the cost of your car insurance.
  • Cut the extras. Optional extras like breakdown assistance, windscreen cover and no claims bonus protection all add up. If these are not important to you, cut them out and you should be able to save a few euro.
  • Your mileage. Anything over 15,000 km per year may incur loading (a fancy word for higher cost) on your policy, so consider whether it’s possible to reduce your mileage.
  • Parking. Do you have access to a driveway, a garage or a car park? Insurance companies prefer this and will charge you less if you can park your car off the street at night.

If you’re having difficulty getting car insurance

If you have been denied car insurance from at least three insurance companies, you can appeal to Insurance Ireland’s Declined Cases Committee. The committee will review your case and will generally be able to get motor insurance for you unless it would be contrary to the public interest. It is worth noting that extremely high quotes can be considered refusals too. More information on the Declined Cases Agreement is available from Insurance Ireland.


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