Seven mistakes people make when buying car insurance

Carlton Boyce / 22 April 2016

Get a better deal and avoid invalidating your car insurance policy with our guide to the common mistakes people make when buying motor insurance.

Buying car insurance used to be simple: You’d call into your local insurance broker and have a chat over a cup of tea. They knew your position, and would phone around to get you the best price, which would probably come from the same company you’d been using for years.

Things have moved on since then, and the onus is now on you to provide all the information needed to generate a quotation and that information has to be accurate, not only to make sure that the insurance policy is valid in the event of a claim; putting the wrong information down could lead to you paying more than you need to.

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Here are our top seven tips on how to avoid making these sort of common mistakes.

1. Inertia

The biggest mistake you can make is to give into inertia, reasoning that getting a quotation from another insurance company is too much trouble or, even worse, assuming that your loyalty will be repaid if you decide stick with your existing insurer.

It isn’t and it won’t, so it’s well worth investing an hour or so of your time in getting a few quotes when renewal time comes around.

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2. Don’t filter stuff out

Please don’t be tempted to filter the information that you provide. 

If it asks you if you’ve had any accidents or claims in the last five years then don’t be tempted to ignore that small bump that you had four-and-a-half years ago. There will be a record of it and it could invalidate your premium if you don’t declare it.

Similarly, if you have a second job, or never park your car in the garage because it’s full of junk, be honest and tell them everything.

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3. Your job

Of course, if you’re retired this part is easy, but for the rest of us how we describe our job could lead to wildly varying insurance costs.

As someone who makes a living by writing stuff, if I describe my occupation as ‘journalist’ my premium is often weighted because most insurers assume I’ll be giving famous celebrities lifts here, there and everywhere. The reality is, sadly, that I’ve only done so once. (And no, it was Kylie…)

If I change my description to ‘writer’, then the premium drops. Given that I don’t write news, or work for a newspaper, most insurance companies are happy to accept that I’m a writer rather than a journalist. 

Similarly, your job could probably be described in a different way without being untruthful, so why not see if that makes a difference to your premium?

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4. Limited mileage

It can be tempting to try and reduce your premium by opting for a limited mileage policy and this can be a great way to save money on a car that you don’t use much. However, you need to be careful that you don’t exceed the limit because if you do, your cover will be invalid, as you’ll have covered the mileage you paid for.

If in doubt, have a look at the last couple of MOT certificates. The mileage is recorded on them and you’ll be able to more accurately gauge how many miles you’re likely to cover in the next 12 months.

5. Fully comprehensive or third party?

Fully comprehensive cover used to be more expensive than third party cover, but that might not be the case for you. 

With a good driving record and a clean licence, fully comp is often the cheapest option for careful drivers, so it’s worth exploring both options and comparing them before committing.

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6. Think about the extras

A lot of policies offer extra cover for things like breakdown cover or legal expenses. 

It’s always worth taking the time to compare the costs of buying them as part of your car insurance cover compared to doing so separately – and there is certainly no need to buy the same cover twice!

7. Check and then double-check

Before you finally commit to pressing ‘send’, it’s always worth checking and then getting someone else to double-check that everything is in order and accurate. 

It might be an honestly held mistake, but any errors might lead to problems with future claims.

Why not let us provide a quote for your car insurance? With tailored policies for people like you, you could save a bundle!

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.