Put the brake on rising motoring costs
Record rises in insurance premiums have made driving more expensive. But there are still ways to save
Sunday 14 November 2010
Driving a car has never been cheap, but insurance premiums for motorists reached such unprecedented highs last month that MPs were forced to launch an inquiry. The findings, revealed at a Transport Select Committee meeting on Monday, painted a less than rosy picture.
Premiums have skyrocketed by 40 per cent over the past 12 months, and young people are bearing the brunt with some costs rising by as much as 51 per cent. The average premium stands at £792 compared with £569 a year ago. And although politicians have expressed concern over the impact rising premiums will have on household finances, experts believe the costs could rise further as claim management companies mushroom in number and cash-strapped Britons take advantage of no-win, no-fee lawyers.
With a one pence increase in fuel duty, which took effect from October, adding more financial woe, it has never been more important to slash your motoring costs. While rising premiums may be beyond our control, there are many ways of saving money, including driving more economically.
"Adopting eco driving techniques is an easy way for consumers to reduce their fuel consumption to help purses, wallets and the environment," says Erik Nelson, a spokesman for the RAC. "By making a few simple changes to their driving style, motorists can help to drive down their cost of motoring."
For young drivers with a strong record of driving safely, there are ways to keep costs down. Young and experienced drivers with low mileage could benefit from cheaper insurance with Insurethebox, a provider which uses a satellite device fitted into your car to monitor movements and bases its premiums solely on an individual's driving habits.
The device also has the duel purpose of being able to track a car in the event it is stolen . Other specialist providers include Coverbox and i-kube, which also use tracking technology to monitor and reward safer driving with policies for 17- to 25-year-old drivers.
Little changes such as keeping your car as light as possible by taking off roof racks will immediately improve your fuel efficiency. You should avoid sharp acceleration and breaking, which can use up to 30 per cent more fuel and use air conditioning sparingly as this gobbles up fuel rapidly, particularly at low speeds. Slowing down your car may seem like a drag, but driving at 60mph uses up to 15 per cent more petrol than at 50mph, according to the Department for Transport. If you cruise at 80mph you could be using as much as 25 per cent more fuel than at 70mph.
The make and model of your car will also affect the premiums on offer. Since January, insurers have put cars into categories ranging from one to 50, with the highest group potentially facing the steepest premiums. Cars such as the Ford Ka, Peugeot 107 and Volkswagen Polo fall into the lowest group because they are cheaper to repair. Generally, a smaller, less-powerful car will represent a lower risk. Avoid cars that have been customised with alloy wheels and big spoilers. Insurers don't look kindly on modified vehicles and are likely to ramp up premiums.
But by far the biggest factor determining your insurance costs is whether you take the time to review your options. Comparing as few as five insurance providers can cut bills by 35 per cent, according to the Association of British Insurers, so it is worth taking a few minutes to compare quotes. It may also be worth investigating specialist policies too. Axa has a policy of rewarding motorists who have at least eight years' no claims with a discount of up to 90 per cent on premiums and some providers offer rates dependent on gender. However, Steve Sweeney, head of car insurance at Moneysupermarket.com, says don't take it as read that these providers are always a cheaper option.
"So many factors are taken into consideration by insurers that it is impossible to say that just because you are a woman that the specialist female insurance firms will be the cheapest for you. No single insurer is the cheapest for everyone and this is why comparing policies and prices is so important," he says.
Increasing your excess will also reduce your premiums and may work well for occasional drivers, but for anyone using their car every day a large excess is a risky strategy. Your car insurance company may offer a discount if you are willing to commit to an annual mileage cap, and if you have reduced your mileage, let your insurer know so that you don't pay for extra miles you are not actually covering.
"If, for example, you change jobs and have a shorter commute to work you could be saving money. Try to work out how many miles you will genuinely cover – but don't get it wrong as inaccuracy could jeopardise your claim," says Mr Sweeney.
Locking your car in a garage overnight will also help as more than 50 per cent of vehicle thefts occur overnight. You can also keep costs down by paying the whole year's premiums in one go, rather than in monthly instalments which incurs additional interest.
Ian Crowder, an AA spokesman, says that, regardless of age, improving driving habits will help lower costs. "An additional qualification like Pass Plus is useful, but the best financial incentive to get premiums down is staying within the law and not picking up speeding tickets," he says.
Ian Crowder, AA
"As far as driving techniques are concerned, there are lots of bad habits that we get into. Make sure you're accelerating gently, instead of flooring it. Don't have a roof rack and avoid driving with your windows open at speed as this will increase resistance. It's also important to check regularly your tyre pressure – underinflated tyres can account for three or four miles per gallon."
Budget 2015: George Osborne is set to get tough with further cuts in public spending
Buyers beware of new-build home headaches
Dirty tricks in a divorce can cause some nasty surprises
Simon Read: 'Taylor Swift tickets purchased on Viagogo were cancelled hours before the concert'
Simon Read: You're guilty until proven innocent when HMRC sends in the tax credit detectives
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
- 4 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 5 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
iJobs Money & Business
£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...
Day In a Page
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.
This recently-refurbished three-bedroom home has bi-folding doors that lead out to a decked seating area - ideal for alfresco dining this summer.
Well-located for coastal walks and popular restaurants, this detached four-bedroom home offers views over farmland, to the Solent, the Purbecks and Bournemouth.
If you love high ceilings, school conversions like this one are bang on the money. This two-bedroom flat is minutes from Burgess Park and the foodie haven at Borough Market.
Set within a church conversion in Bermondsey, this two-bedroom maisonette combines existing features, such as original arches and brickwork, with a contemporary finish.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.
Located in the University area, this semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors - there's even a rear garden and off-road parking too.
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.