The Sun helps driver to HALVE his car insurance bills – saving £547 a year

I can't understand why my current insurer, Admiral, has hiked the price by a fifth despite the fact I haven't made any claims at all since I took out the policy.

In fact I've got an 11-year no claims bonus.

My wife, Helen, and I are both insured on my company car which we use for work so this insurance only covers social and leisure use.

It's obvious to me that loyalty doesn't pay.

I'm sick of the way insurers seem to always ratchet up the price after the first year in the hope that you'll forget about it and let the policy auto-renew.

But can you give me any tips to help me shop around and save as much money as possible?

Mark Hill, Rotherham

Leah Milner replies: I've yet to come across anybody who has been offered a truly competitive quote by their existing insurer at renewal.

And yet if you shop around and then go back to your current firm often they will match what rivals are offering.

It's infuriating that insurers try and get away with charging as much as possible rather than playing fair in the first place.

The City watchdog is concerned about this too and has just launched an investigation into whether insurers are ripping off customers who stick with the same firm.

This comes after  Citizens Advice revealed that millions of people are being overcharged up to £4billion a year for loyally sticking with insurance, mobile phone, broadband, mortgage and saving account.

The charity warned customers who stick with the same providers each year are paying a "loyalty tax" equivalent to £877 a year per household.

Do you have a money problem that needs solving? Email Leah at [email protected]

I suggested that you register for a cashback website so that you could make money back, not just on your car insurance but on travel, gifts, energy and all sorts of other purchases.

You joined Topcashback and found it had lots of offers on car insurance, both through comparison websites and from insurers direct.

I also told you about the 21-day rule.

According to recent research by MoneySavingExpert which analysed millions of quotes, 21 days before your policy expires is the best time to get the cheapest deal.

If you look too soon or too late you're unlikely to get the best price, the analysis found.

The rule certainly seemed to work for you as you had done an initial search for cover when your renewal quote came through a couple of weeks earlier and found the best deal was around £500.

But when you looked again exactly 21 days before your renewal date you were able to find much cheaper policies.

I explained that although it is a bit of a hassle the only way to guarantee you get the best price is to look on multple comparison websites as each one has a slightly different range of offers.

So you searched on Moneysupermarket, Confused and Gocompare.

You also checked with Aviva and Direct Line's own websites because they are not on comparison websites.

And because your wife Helen is a school cook, you tried entering this as "kitchen staff" rather than "chef".

In the end the cheapest deal you found was from Tesco Bank Insurance through for just £388.

And because you had clicked through to via Topcashback, you are also going to get a £10.50 bonus payment, bringing the cost down to £377.50.

That's a massive saving of nearly £547 from your original Admiral renewal quote – slashing your bill by way more than half.

And the whole process only took about half an hour, so it goes to show that it really pays to take a little time to follow all the tips and shop around properly.

A spokesman from Admiral said: "When we calculate a price, we look at many different rating factors, and we regularly review our rates and make changes depending on what we see in our claims statistics.

"As a result some rates will go up and others will go down.

"In Mr Hill’s case we’ve made changes to rates relating to his postcode due to a recent review.

"We appreciate Mr Hill may be disappointed with this renewal quote but we do aim to offer a fair and accurate price based on the risk a customer presents to us."

Could a dash cam save you even more?

Anders Nilsson of GoCompare said that for other drivers looking to save more money a dash cam can be a worthwhile investment.

He said: "Insurers are increasingly aware of the benefits of dash cams with several offering discounts of 10 to 20 per to those who use them."

This could shave up to £96 a year off the typical car insurance premium of £481 and these gadgets are available for as little as £39.99 from Argos.

Although in the first year you'd have to pay for the cost of the camera, you could benefit from lower premiums year after year.

Check the terms and conditions of the discount carefully as some insurers insist on particular brands of camera.

How to cut the cost of car insurance

  • Never accept a renewal quote
    Your policy could double overnight if you're not careful. Make sure you put a reminder in your phone or diary  of when it's up and shop around for a better deal.
  • Buy 21 days in advance
    Purchasing a policy three weeks in advance can cut your bill in half. Buy 30 days in advance it could cost you hundreds more because there aren't as many policies out there. Taking out a policy at the last minute and insurers will deem you a higher risk and whack up your premium.
  • Use cashback sites
    Quidco and Topcashback and often have deals for cashback if you click through to the comparison sites via their own links and then go on to take out a policy, so look  here first. There are also cashback offers if you go direct to the insurers but it's much more important to get the best premium so don't be tempted by these unless you already know the insurer in question is offering the cheapest quotes for you.
  • Check more than one comparison site
    For the best range of quotes make sure you check Moneysupermarket, Confused, Gocompare and ComparetheMarket  or as many of these as you can.
  • Don't forget the ones comparison sites miss
    Two of the biggest insurers, Aviva and Direct Line aren't on comparison sites so you'll need to check them too to see if they can offer you a better deal. Again, click through to these from one of the cashback sites mentioned above.
  • Pay annually
    Monthly installments mean you can spread the cost of insurance, but they come at a cost. Pay in one go to save more. We found you can save as much as £440 a year by paying car insurance bills annually.
  • Try tweaking your job title
    Sometimes there is more than one way to accurately describe your job and trying different options can save you money. Never lie or use a misleading description, but GoCompare found one example where a "chef" saved £88 a year by describing himself as "kitchen staff" instead which is still accurate.
  • Avoid the unnecessary extras
    Typical car insurance can include legal assistance, courtesy car cover, personal accident cover, windscreen cover and protected no claims bonus. However, you are likely to pay up to £140 a year for these benefits, so decide what cover you really need rather than just accepting what an insurer adds on.
  • Look at telematics policies if you're a younger driver
    These insurance policies use a small box fitted in your vehicle or a mobile phone app to monitor how safely you drive, by checking your speed and how sharply you brake among other things. For young motorists who pay the highest premiums, this can mean a saving of £370 on a standard policy of £3,200, for a typical 18 year-old driver, according to Gocompare.

Do you need our help with a customer service gripe or money dilemma? Email us at [email protected] and don't forget to include a daytime phone number. If you're complaining about a particular company, please include a line to say you give the firm in question permission to speak to The Sun about your case so that we can look into it for you. We cannot take any legal responsibility for the guidance given and it does not constitute financial advice.


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