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Car policies that age well with age

FOR car insurance companies, the age of reason appears to be 45, when many start offering special deals. This means that as drivers get older, they should check their insurance, as a company which was competitive for a 40-year-old may not be the best for an older driver. Some companies continue to cut the cost of policies as drivers get older.

According to the latest Motor Advice survey, a 50-year-old driver can expect to pay up to 41 per cent less than a 30-year-old for the same cover. In fact, all the direct-writing companies offer a reduction to older drivers, and several have come up with special deals.

All insurance companies consider older drivers a better risk, and as a result, the market to provide them with cover is highly competitive. So what is on offer for low-risk owners? The Motor Advice survey also includes an analysis of the premiums charged to older drivers, particularly those with modest cars and good driving records.

The survey compares the cost of a comprehensive insurance policy for two sample drivers, one aged 50 and the other 65. Both live in Devon and drive a K-reg Metro SL 1.4, which is garaged overnight.

Premiums on offer for the 65- year-old range widely in price. The cheapest available is from Guardian Direct, at pounds 110.56, while the most expensive, from Royal Direct, is 71 per cent higher at pounds 188.72. Guardian, which does not specialise in insurance for older drivers, is the only one of the direct writers which offers a protected bonus to all drivers without extra charge. Eight of the direct-writing companies are able to improve on the best quote from a broker company (pounds 127.70).

For the 50-year-old, the cheapest policy comes from Preferred Direct at pounds 123.12. Again, it is Royal Direct which offers the most expensive direct company policy, this time at pounds 189.27.

This is not to say that Royal offers consistently high premiums for older drivers. Had our sample drivers been, say, a 54-year-old from Grays with a Jaguar, Royal would have offered him the best rate from a direct insurer (pounds 401) and Guardian would have been second with pounds 489.

The survey demonstrates clearly that premiums vary widely, even for low-risk drivers. For higher-risk groups, the variation will be even more significant. The only way to find out which company offers the cheapest premiums is to undertake extensive and continuous research, as Motor Advice does.

o Motorists who want advice on their car insurance may ring Motor Advice on 0897 664422. It is the only company that monitors not only the companies used by brokers, but also the direct writers that do not pay commission. In one call, drivers can find out how much they should be paying in premiums and which companies they should go to. The process takes about four minutes and calls are charged at pounds 1.50 a minute.