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."
- 2 Qataris pledge to expand Canary Wharf
- 3 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 4 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General election live: Booths open at 7am across the country on polling day
iJobs Money & Business
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...
£40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...
Day In a Page
Set over three storeys, this unusual two-bedroom townhouse has many character features including high ceilings, arched windows, exposed beams and original church doors.
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.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
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, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
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 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 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.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
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.
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.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
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
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house