Car Insurance Help

Choosing your insurer

With car insurance premiums surging - they rose by a record 11.5 per cent in the three months to September 2010 - new drivers are being stung. However, some car insurance companies are introducing schemes such as pay-as-you-go policies that could help drive premiums down.

So how can you find the insurer that`s right for you?

Think about the cover you need

There are three types of cover available:

- Third party cover: Covers liability for injuries to third parties and damages to their property. Also covers liability while towing a caravan or trailer.

- Third party, fire and theft: Third party cover plus protection for your own vehicle against theft; damage from an attempted theft; and fire damage.

- Comprehensive: Third party fire and theft cover plus cover for accident-related damages suffered by your vehicle, subject to policy exclusions. Depending on the policy you take out, comprehensive cover may also incorporate features such as accidental damage, medical expenses and more.

The more cover you take out, the better protected you will be. However, new drivers are often encouraged to take out third party cover during their first year of driving to keep premiums affordable. Don`t assume that third party cover is always the cheapest, however - use a comparison website to compare deals and you may be able to find more cover for less money.

Reduce your risk level

Most insurers base premiums on risk - i.e. the more likely you are to make a claim, the higher premiums will be. With high accident rates among new drivers and their lack of experience on the road, they are particularly hard hit. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your perceived risk and bring premiums down:

- Agree to a mileage cap/pay-as-you-go scheme: The fewer miles you drive, the less likely it is an accident will occur so consider agreeing to a mileage cap. Similarly, some insurers offer pay-as-you-go schemes which reduce premiums if you agree to only drive at certain times of the day.

- Boost security: Adding security devices such as alarms, immobilisers and trackers and parking in a garage overnight will reduce the risk of theft.

- Choose the right car: Make sure your first car is a sensible one - older cars with smaller engines generally qualify for cheaper premiums.

- Drive safely: Insurers examine your driving record when assessing premiums so staying accident and conviction free will help lower premiums. Most insurers offer no-claims discounts that can reduce premiums by as much as 60 per cent after four or more years with some companies even offering rapid bonus schemes to new drivers.

- Increase your excess: If you agree to pay more in the event that a claim is necessary your insurer should reduce your premium.

- Take the Pass Plus course: The Pass Plus course is designed to provide new drivers with experience in unfamiliar driving situations such as driving at night, in cities, on country lanes, on dual carriageways, on motorways and in adverse weather conditions. This additional experience is looked on favourably by insurers with some companies offering discounts as high as 35 per cent to those that complete the course. You may even be able to secure assistance with the cost of the course from your local authority.

Follow this link to take you to my Pass Plus help and advice page.

Now you`re ready to choose.

Once you know what level of cover you want and have considered all the steps you can to reduce your premiums, you`re ready to shop around. For new drivers car insurance use a comparison website to compare deals from 100s of insurers and find the right balance of price and cover.