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Car insurance: how is it calculated?

22 Nov 2022, 23:24 GMT+10

Car cover is an essential part of car ownership but it's also one of the most expensive. But how do insurers work out the cost of car insurance and is there anything you can really do to find cheap car insurance quotes? With advice and tips on how to save money, here's comparison site

What affects the cost of car insurance?

Insurance is ultimately about understanding and calculating the risk of a claim being made - the greater the risk, the more you can expect your insurance to cost. To help them calculate this risk accurately, insurers will ask you all sorts of questions, including:

Your age

Drivers under 25 years of age typically pay significantly more compared to any other age group. This is because young drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident, which increases the probability of a claim being made.

Your address

Areas with higher than average crime rates tend to attract higher premiums as there's a greater risk of your car being vandalised or stolen.

Your job

Some insurers link certain jobs to risky behaviour. For example, professional sportspeople often pay considerably more for car cover compared to nurses or teachers.

The type of policy you choose

There are three levels of cover to choose from. The lowest level is third party only while the highest is comprehensive cover. However, that doesn't mean third party is the cheapest option and in many cases, it can be the most expensive.

This is because figures show that third party policyholders tend to make more claims compared to drivers with comp cover, which is reflected in premiums.

The activities you use your car for (known as 'class of use')

If you use your car to commute to work every day, you can expect to pay more than someone who only uses their car for social or domestic reasons. This is simply down to the fact that using your car on a frequent basis increases your exposure to risk, which in turn increases the chances of a claim.

The number of miles you drive each year

If you cover lots of miles each year, you're again increasing your exposure to risk, and this will be reflected in the cost of your premium.

Your car's insurance group

All cars belong to one of 50 insurance groups. As a general rule, the lower the group number, the cheaper the car will be to insure. So, if you're considering buying a new or nearly new car, it's worth taking a look at what group it's in.

Car security

If your car's hard to steal and you can keep your car in a locked garage overnight, you're likely to pay less compared to someone who parks their car on the street.

Your no claims bonus

For every year you drive without making an insurance claim, you'll earn a no claims bonus (also known as a no claims discount). The more years of no claims you have, the bigger the bonus or discount.

Your driving record

Insurers will usually ask you whether you've made any recent claims or if you have any driving convictions. Having one or both can increase your premium as you'll be considered a 'risky driver' who is likely to make another claim.

How can I get cheap car insurance?

The good news is that as there are lots of factors that affect your premium, there are also lots of ways you can balance out the factors that make it expensive.

So, while there will be some elements you can't change, for instance, your age, address and driving record, here's what you can do to get cheaper car insurance:

  • Pay for your car insurance annually - it's a lot of money upfront but it will mean you avoid interest fees.
  • Increase car security - if you don't have a garage or private driveway, consider investing in an immobiliser or car alarm.
  • Reduce your mileage - if this isn't possible, be as accurate as you can. Overestimating your mileage could mean you pay more than you need.
  • Increase your voluntary excess - the amount you choose should still be affordable, otherwise you won't be able to go ahead with a claim.
  • Add an experienced named driver - from an insurance perspective, adding another driver suggests you won't be behind the wheel as much which reduces the risk of an accident and in turn, your premium.
  • Tweak your job title - variations in your job title can have a surprising effect on your premium, just make sure what you choose still accurately describes what you do.
  • Compare car insurance - comparing quotes at sites like, is one of the quickest and most effective ways of ensuring you get the best value for money. You can start a quote online or speak to an expert on 0330 022 8825.

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