Car insurance can be a costly outgoing for anyone, but more so for young drivers. This is because young drivers (aged 17-24) are at a much higher risk of crashing than older drivers. In fact, drivers aged 17-19 are involved in 9% of fatal and serious crashes, yet they only make up 1.5% of UK licence holders.
So, insuring your first car is more than likely going to be expensive, especially when you’re about to embark on postgraduate studies and you need to save all the money you can. However, being able to drive is also an invaluable skill to have, and can come in very handy when you're heading onto bigger and brighter things.
To help postgrad students save as much money on their insurance as possible, here are a few tips.
Take a Pass Plus course
More experience on the road usually means cheaper insurance. If you’ve only just passed your driving test your insurance policy will cost more than a policy for someone who’s been driving a while, so to help keep that cost down, you may want to take a Pass Plus course. A Pass Plus course can cost anything from £99 to £160 depending on where you choose to learn. A Pass Plus course is designed to help drivers who have recently passed their test enhance their driving skills and make them safer drivers, and includes all weather driving, motorway driving, night time driving and driving in rush hour traffic. The course boosts young drivers’ confidence on the road and some insurance companies even offer discounts if you have the Pass Plus certificate. With that said, not all insurance companies offer discounts for a Pass Plus so you may want to shop around to find the ones that do.
Install a black box
Also known as a telematics device or Smartbox, a black box is a nifty piece of in-car tech that can help keep your insurance premium low. Essentially, a black box is installed in your car to record your driving style – the safer and smoother you drive, the lower your premium will be. While the data black boxes record varies, they usually monitor a driver’s mileage, speed, whether the driver is changing up through gears smoothly or accelerating quickly and what time of day they are driving. A black box also records whether the driver is carefully slowing to a stop or slamming on their brakes, and if they are taking corners too fast. With that said however, different insurers will look at different aspects of driving to judge whether you’re a good driver. If you drive dangerously with a black box, this will impact your insurance premium, so make sure that you drive as safely as possible. If you have a one-off bad day of driving, this won’t necessarily have an immediate impact on your premiums. Instead, it is much more likely that constant poor driving over days, weeks or months will be penalised. Your insurance company is more concerned about consistent poor driving because it can signal that you’re a higher risk on the road. Black boxes not only have the benefit of saving you money on your insurance, but they make the roads safer by incentivising good driving habits.
Install a dash cam
Similar to a black box, some insurers will offer a discount to a driver who installs a dash cam. Using a dash cam to record an incident will allow the insurers to quickly and accurately establish who was at fault, saving both money and time – which is why the discounts are offered. Again, not all companies offer discounts for dash cams, so you may want to shop around to find out which insurance companies do. When you find a company which offers a good deal, you should also make sure the camera you choose meets the insurer’s terms and conditions. This could mean buying a certain brand, or getting it fitted by a professional. If you were to get into an accident on the road, providing video evidence of what actually happened can speed up the claims process and prove your innocence. As well as proving the fault of a third party, a camera could demonstrate your own driving transgressions – which is why you should always drive safely.
Buy a car outright
Owning a car instead of leasing one can minimise the insurance premium, because when you lease a car or take out a bank loan, it is the bank or leasing company who owns the car that decides the insurance. When you lease a car, legally, you have to get fully comprehensive insurance. If you buy a car outright, you have much more flexibility when it comes to the types of insurance policies you can take out – meaning you have more of a chance of finding a better, more affordable option.
Research insurance intently
From learner driver insurance policies to insurance policies specially designed for young drivers, there are plenty of insurance options to choose from, whatever stage of driving you’re at. It can also be a good idea to conduct your own research and get an idea of how much car insurance might cost before you even think about buying a car. It can be wise to check whether there is an interest charge before you set up a direct debit, and if so, find out what the difference is in the cost between paying for insurance annually and monthly. Usually, paying the insurance off in one lump sum can save you money in the long run.
Whether it’s installing a dash cam or a black box, or buying a car outright instead of leasing one, there are plenty of ways you can reduce the cost of your car insurance as a postgrad student.