Drivers aged 50 and above have seen their car insurance premiums rise much more sharply than other age groups over the past decade, but the good news is there may be ways to drive the cost of your cover down.
According to the latest motor insurance price index by Consumer Intelligence, the average cost of the most competitive car insurance policy for the over-50s has soared by a record 22.5% in the past year, with typical annual costs for this age group now at around £462. Since Consumer Intelligence first started analysing motor insurance costs in 2013, costs have risen 80.4% for the over-50s, compared to 54% for those aged between 25 and 49. Costs for those aged under 25s are down 20.1% over the period.
If you’re worried about rising insurance costs, you might be surprised by how much you can reduce the cost of your premiums by making some simple changes.
Here are some tips to help you lower the cost of your car insurance premiums.
- Make sure your mileage is correct
- Try changing the way you describe your occupation
- Pay your car insurance premium annually rather than monthly
- Never automatically renew your cover
- See if you can boost your insurance savings with cashback
- Think carefully about which car you buy
- Get a black box policy
- Keep your car safe
- Avoid adding younger relatives to your policy
- Compare quotes from different providers
1) Make sure your mileage is correct
When you buy motor insurance, you’ll be asked for an estimate of your annual mileage. Don’t just have a stab at what this is – it’s a good idea to give as accurate an estimate as possible, as the more you drive, the higher your car insurance premiums will be. That’s because the more you drive, the higher a risk insurers will consider you to be, simply because the longer you spend in your car, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident.
One helpful tip is to try logging your mileage each time you renew your car insurance, so you have a regular check point each year to know how far you’ve driven. Lots of insurers also have annual mileage calculators to help you work out how far you drive each year. For example, you can find them at Direct Line, Hughes Insurance and Keith Michaels. You can also check your annual MOT certificates which show what your mileage reading was at the time the car was tested.
It’s also worth thinking about seeing if you could cut down your mileage at all. For example, could you get to your destination by cycling or using public transport. Using alternative modes of transport can be a healthy lifestyle change, anyway, and ultimately reduce how much you drive.
If you drive under 7,000 miles a year, one option you might want to consider is an insurance policy that only charges you for the miles you drive. For example, with insurer By Miles, you pay an initial annual charge, and then an amount per mile that you’re on the road. You’ll be sent a Miles Tracker to measure your mileage and you can download an app to automatically see the cost of your journeys.
However, whatever your current mileage, make sure you’re honest when applying for insurance. If you end up having to make a claim and your mileage doesn’t match up, your claim could be rejected.
2) Try changing the way you describe your occupation
Believe it or not, the way you describe your job when you apply for car insurance can have a big impact on the amount you pay. Don’t be tempted to put down a different occupation to the one you actually do, as this could invalidate your cover, but when you next apply for cover it could be worth seeing if describing your job in a different way reduces your insurance premiums.
Certain occupations are considered much higher risk than others. For example, according to comparison website GoCompare if you describe yourself as a ‘chef’ your average quote could be as much as £88 higher than if you selected ‘kitchen staff’ as your occupation. If you have more than one job that applies to you on a pre-defined list offered by your insurer, it’s always worth comparing costs to see if you can cut your premiums by describing your job differently. Jobs which tend to offer a range of options include office work, building and construction, teaching and journalism.
Lee Griffin, spokesman for GoCompare said: “You will also need to tell your insurer if you change your job. Your occupation is one of the major pieces of information that insurers use to work out your insurance premium. Ultimately, some occupations are viewed as more risky than others which means, unfortunately, if you are a professional footballer, you’ll likely be shelling out more for your cover than a priest.
“It’s not just those in full-time work that this applies to, for instance if you’re a full-time parent, retired or a full-time student, make absolutely sure you’re selecting those titles and not ‘unemployed’ – it could save you almost £300.”
3) Pay your car insurance premium annually rather than monthly
Around one in three of us pay for our car insurance monthly rather than annually, but paying annually can add substantially to the overall cost. If you can afford to pay the annual cost up-front rather than monthly, it could save you up to £65 a year, according to research from Comparethemarket.com.
A spokesman for comparison site Uswitch said: “Although paying upfront for your car insurance can be a big hit to your bank balance, it can save you a considerable amount over the year. By paying for your car insurance in monthly instalments, you are essentially taking out a loan from the insurer with added interest rates. If you can afford to pay the annual cost upfront, you could save 20% or even more depending on your provider.”
The typical interest rates offered by insurers are not usually that competitive, so if you can’t afford to pay your car insurance in one go, you might want to consider using a 0% credit card to cover the cost, but this should only be an option if you’re certain you can pay off the balance on the card before the interest-free period finishes.
If you can’t afford to pay your car insurance in one go, you might want to consider using a 0% credit card to cover the cost, but this should only be an option if you’re certain you can pay off the balance on the card before the interest-free period finishes. Find out more in our guide Should I pay my car insurance premiums monthly or annually?
4) Never automatically renew your cover
Unfortunately, there’s no reward for staying loyal to your insurer – in fact, you’ll probably find prices creep up every year, even if you haven’t made a claim. According to recent research by finance website TotallyMoney, £565m is lost every year due to customers remaining loyal to their current car insurance provider.
It’s therefore essential to always shop around for car insurance cover before you accept your insurer’s renewal quote to find out whether you might be able to save by switching to another provider. The city regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) introduced new rules in 2017 to encourage shopping around at renewal, but research shows lots of motorists still fail to do this. It is currently consulting on proposals which would result in new and existing customers getting the same quotes. According to GoCompare, 4.1m drivers auto-renewed last year without checking if they could get a better deal, even though switching could typically save them up to £240.
Even if you want to stay with your current provider, it’s worth getting some external quotes and then calling up your existing provider. Most companies will offer to beat an external quote to avoid you leaving them. Just never assume your existing provider will offer you a good deal at renewal.
Don’t leave renewing your car insurance until the last minute as according to research by MoneySuperMarket, buying cover within 15 to 28 days of your renewal date will get you the best price. The comparison site says that renewing the day before it is due costs on average 17% more than renewing in the 15 to 28 day window. Based on the average £490 cost of a fully comprehensive policy, that means motorists who renew the day before the renewal date could end up spending £83 more than those who renew in the 15 to 28 day window.
If your insurance renewal is coming up soon, you can compare car insurance quotes using our car insurance comparison tool, or if your insurance isn’t up for renewal just yet, you can set up a reminder here and we will send you an email nearer the time.
5) See if you can boost your insurance savings with cashback
Once you’ve found a new insurance policy, see if you can get a hot deal or extra cashback from that provider through a cashback site such as Quidco or Topcashback. For example, when we checked, Quidco was offering up to £15 cashback to anyone buying a new car insurance policy from the AA.
Similarly, Topcashback was offering up to £47.25 cashback on car insurance bought through Freedom Brokers or up to £45 cashback on car insurance bought through Diamond insurance.
6) Think carefully about which car you buy
Simply put, the more expensive your car is, the higher your insurance premiums will be, for several reasons.
An expensive car will cost more to repair if it’s damaged or in need of replacement parts, and a flash car tends to be much more attractive to car thieves and vandals. Also, if your dream car comes with a powerful engine and high top speed, insurers will consider you more at risk of getting into an accident.
Whichever car you buy, remember that you need to factor in the cost of the insurance premiums as well as the upfront cost. If you have your heart set on an expensive model, make sure you can afford the cost of insurance before you buy, and consider taking extra steps to keep your new car safe, such as keeping it in a garage if you’re able to. Otherwise, you might want to stick with a more affordable model. You can find the cars which cost the least to insure in our guide 16 cheapest cars to insure.
7) Get a black box policy
Black box insurance – also known as telematics, smart box insurance, pay as you drive or usage-based insurance – is a special kind of policy that rewards you for safer driving.
Your insurer will fit a small device in your car or ask you to download a particular smartphone app, which will monitor your driving and send the data to your insurer. It uses information including how fast you drive, how smoothly you brake and make corners, your mileage and what times of day and night you tend to drive at to arrive at your overall driving score. This is then used to help calculate your premiums.
You will typically have access to a dashboard providing feedback on your driving to improve your score, too. The device’s GPS capabilities mean that it will also usually double as a tracker in case your vehicle is stolen.
While these policies tend to be aimed at younger drivers to help them improve their driving and remain safe on the roads, there is no age limit on getting a black box policy.
If you consider yourself an excellent driver already, then it could be worth looking into black box policies, as they will directly reward your careful driving with lower premiums over time. You may also get an initial discount just for getting a black box policy, and particularly if you have passed your test recently. Find out more in our guide What is black box car insurance?
8) Keep your car safe
Protecting your car to the best of your ability will make insurers more inclined to offer you low premiums. For example, keeping it in a garage or driveway is better than leaving it on the road, and if you don’t have a garage, then keeping it in a well-lit space may still help. Additional security measures such as a tracker in the car or a security camera in case of theft can further reduce your premiums.
9) Avoid adding younger relatives to your policy
For younger drivers, adding the name of an older relative who might use their car onto their insurance policy is a well-known strategy for reducing the cost of insurance.
The same principle applies in reverse – if you’re getting car insurance and have a younger relative who might borrow the car from time to time, it will probably save you money not to name them on the policy. This is because younger drivers are typically classed as higher risk drivers, so this will bump up your premium. However, it’s perfectly legal – and very common – for two people to get separate insurance policies on the same car.
This also means that your no-claims bonus will not be affected if your relative is involved in an accident and needs to make a claim. Learn more in our guide Should I add my child to my car insurance policy?
10) Compare quotes from different providers
The best way to start cutting down on your insurance costs is to compare quotes from a variety of providers and find out which ones offer the best deals. Don’t automatically renew with the provider you’re currently using, especially if you’ve recently turned 50 – it’s likely that there will be better deals available to you now.
You can use this tool to get started and compare car insurance quotes for people over 50 from over 110 providers.
You can also use this tool to compare quotes from providers covering all age ranges.
Looking at ways to reduce the cost of your car insurance might feel like an effort, but the savings can be substantial. If you need any motivation, think about what you might be able to do with the money you save – it could help you pay off that credit card bill, or top up your rainy day savings. So don’t delay, dig out your car insurance policy, find out when it’s up for renewal and mark the date in your diary now.