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cutting your car costs

car insurance

Here are our top ten tips for saving on your car insurance costs.

1. The golden rule: shop around - don't just sign on the dotted line to renew with your existing insurer every year.

Insurance costs from the many different providers can vary widely - there's huge competition. That means there's plenty of savings to be made by shopping around and playing insurers off against each other. Sure, getting quotes is boring and repetitive. But an hour's effort could put up to £150 in your pocket.

In particular don't forget to check with the company that provides your home insurance. Some offer further discounts if taking out a car policy with them too.

To save you time we've put together a list of links to well-known insurers. Click on a few company names and get a quote on their web sites, to see how much costs could vary for your own circumstances.

2. Don't judge the premium by the excess. The 'excess' is an amount you'd be required to stump up towards a claim. But it's a mistake to assume that the premium on a policy with a higher excess is likely to be one of the cheapest. Make it your task to search out the cheapest, lowest excess policy for the cover you need. Then think about offering to pay a higher excess to bring the premium down still further.

3. Consider cutting your cover - If you have an older car, the extra you'll pay for comprehensive insurance might not make sense relative to the value of your car. Your car would probably be written off at the slightest damage and the 'market value' you'll get back may not be much more than you've paid for cover. For higher value cars, which are more likely to be repaired than written off if in an accident, comprehensive cover makes more sense.

4. Fit approved security devices. Even small items like an approved steering wheel bar can help cut your premiums. Approved alarms, immobilisers and deadlocks for doors cost more, but could save you up to 30% on your insurance every year.

5. Garage your car overnight. Clear out all that junk from your garage and put your car in it. It's a guaranteed saving.

6. Buy online. Most insurers give a 10-20% discount and other benefits for buying your cover online.

7. Don't modify your car's standard specification. Any mods from alloy wheels to spoilers and body kit, certainly engine tweaks, makes insurers fret and prices rise.

8. If you possibly can, pay up front. There'll probably be an administration charge for paying your premium in monthly installments, or you may be charged interest. That's likely to add at least 10% to your premium.

9. Young drivers take Pass Plus. Anyone under the age of 25 who has passed their test within the past 12 months can take this extra test. It costs £100 but could cut pricey starting-out insurance by half.

10. Avoid claims. Obvious, but it's the real key to affordable insurance. Not only will a no-claim bonus build over several years into a 60-75% discount, but also a long period without claims will get you through the door with a wider range of insurers.

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