It has never been more expensive to own and run a vehicle, with the soaring cost to purchase a new car and the booming price of second-hand vehicles, plus the historic rise in petrol, diesel and electricity prices making many think twice about turning the ignition.
However, a Northern Ireland personal finance comparison website says motorists struggling to meet the costs of running their vehicles can make substantial savings, particularly on their insurance.
CompareNI.com has 10 tips that could help household finances go a little further:
Parking vehicles in garages and even driveways can result in cheaper insurance than parking on the road. Typical savings can be as high as £140 for parking on a private driveway, as it’s deemed safer and less of a risk by insurance providers.
It should go without saying that safer driving results in cheaper premiums. But did you know just how much penalty points can bump up insurance premiums? On average, three points can add 5% to premiums, but it shoots up to 25% for six points and remember that increase is likely to influence premiums for four years until the offence is spent. So, if a driver normally pays say £250 for an annual car insurance policy, with six penalty points that could be as much as £62.50 a year extra, potentially for four years, making it an extra £250. If drivers do have points, it can help to use a bespoke product such as convicted driver insurance, which can help them find the right insurance provider for their risk profile.
On that note, normally the bigger the no claims bonus, the lower the premium. And it’s not just car insurance, recent research shows bikers can make big savings too. So it’s important not to break your string of consecutive claims-free years accidentally, by say switching the car to a partners name. The driver must be the registered owner of the car and noted as the main driver, for a period of consecutive years, for the no claims bonus to add up.
If the driver has points on their licence or very little in the way of a no claims bonus, it might be worth considering a telematics insurance policy. This allows them to demonstrate their driving skills, giving insurers data on which to base their premium. If they’re a careful driver, this will help bring the premium down.
Modifications - branding, spoilers and alloy wheels - might help promote a business or make the car look good, but insurers see them as higher risk, more chance of getting stolen and more expensive to replace, therefore premiums could be higher as a result. Also, not declaring them accurately on the policy could void the cover.
Size matters when it comes to engines - the less powerful the engine the cheaper the insurance is likely to be. If drivers are looking for a new car, it’s wise to check what insurance group that particular make and model falls into.
Alarms and immobilisers usually come as standard but adding safety extras such as a tracker or a dash cam, can sometimes help to bring insurance premiums down – and they can be bought quite cheaply.
If you’re switching to an electric car, look out for government grants for home charging points.
Never let a policy auto-renew - even though new laws introduced in January 2022 mean insurance providers have to offer all customers the same deals, not just incentives for new customers, it’s still sensible to use a comparison site and compare prices.
Mileage is important, check how many miles the car did the year before, the lower the mileage, often, the lower the premium. However, make sure the estimate is as accurate as possible and inform the insurance company throughout the year with significant changes, as claims can be declined if the driver is seen to be misleading the insurance provider.
Greg Wilson, founder of personal finance comparison site CompareNI.com, said: “Families are under more financial pressure than any time in recent memory, but there are a few simple changes that could help reduce unnecessary costs – especially where cars are concerned.
“I think most people are searching for ways to save and they might not know some of these simple facts and tips that could reduce their insurance premiums and, in some cases, save hundreds of pounds a year.
“The cost-of-living crisis is not likely to be resolved any time soon, so it’s worth reviewing household finances so people can find long-term tweaks and changes to their expenses, to help tighten the belt and safeguard for the future. Our new online money saving tool is designed to help people understand their finances better and could even help households find savings.”
CompareNI.com is Northern Ireland’s largest price comparison website, and has helped over 650,000 users compare products from over 200 insurers across car insurance products, bicycles, motorbikes and home insurance. Recommended by 97% of reviewers on Reviews.co.uk.