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Beginner's Guide To: Car insurance

September is always a busy month for car insurance renewals, as the new car registration plates hit the forecourts. Yet millions of drivers will pay more than they need to for insurance because they stick with the same provider. According to moneysupermarket.com, this costs people an average of £9.4bn a year in unnecessary premiums.

How much could I save?

Independent research shows that by comparing different providers, a driver can cut what they pay by an average of £157 a year. This means that sticking with your current provider each year can be a costly mistake.

Don't leave it too late

Many insurers will automatically renew their customers' policies at the end of a year, unless they contact them directly to end the contract. This is because they know that many drivers won't bother to get in touch, meaning they'll be tied into a new contract for a further year.

What are my options?

If you're buying car insurance for the first time, you will be considering choosing fully comprehensive or just third-party protection. Many young or new drivers will pick third-party cover because they assume it's cheaper, but new analysis by moneysupermarket.com shows that's not always so.

Because people buying the lowest level of cover tend to be riskier drivers, insurers have increased the cost. This means it is sometimes cheaper to buy fully comprehensive insurance. It sounds laughable, but it is sometimes the case that more cover costs less, so check out both options when you're comparing providers.

Don't agree an excessive excess

The excess is the amount you agree to pay before the insurer steps in and picks up the bill. It can be tempting to agree a high excess to bring down the cost of your policy, but you don't want to be hit with a bill you would struggle to pay if you do have an accident.