I saved £1,600 on my son’s first car insurance: Why it pays to shop around –  and tweak your job title

When my 17-year-old son Christian passed his driving test for the first time, it was something to celebrate, but also to worry about.

Would he be safe? Should I let him take friends as passengers? And would he ever understand that a speed limit is not a speed drive?

An unexpected concern was the cost of car insurance. I couldn’t believe Nubee’s initial £2,917.82 quote for a car that cost me £223.14 to insure myself with the AA.

Ironically, I had contacted Nubee because the website claims it was created for users of Collingwood’s Learner Driver insurance ‘to help you keep your costs down’.

Subsequent offers were not much better. I pointed out that I was not insuring a Mercedes, but a small Hyundai i20, recently worth £2,000. “But you have to consider the Mercedes your son could use,” a sales agent replied.

Young driver: Jane Knight with her son Christian, who was given £2,917.82 to insure his humble Hyundai i20 car

The high prices reflect the fact that young drivers are a much greater risk to insure. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), 17 to 19 year olds make up just 1.5 per cent of permit holders but are involved in nearly 12 per cent of fatal and serious accidents.

However, there are ways to lower the premium. I managed to get Christian’s insurance down to just over £1,300 with a company called Ticker, using a variety of hacks that largely apply to anyone who buys car insurance.

For this I used three comparison websites, approached individual insurers and tried the insurance broker Adrian Flux; the latter quoted me £2,028.13.

Julie Daniels, auto insurance expert at price comparison website Comparethemarket, says, “With any type of insurance, I can’t stress enough how important it is to shop around. Providers update their premiums daily.’

The price of car insurance is based on risk; anything you can do to reduce that risk, such as having a car with a small engine, will lower your premium.

“As for the risk factors, the type of car, the size of the engine, the age, where it’s parked, whether the driver has any beliefs, the average mileage you’re going to be doing — will all be taken into consideration,” she says.

Since my son was desperate to drive as fast as possible, we couldn’t take advantage of MoneySavingExpert.com’s (MSE) top tip: “If you’re getting quotes, make sure your car insurance starts about 23 days in advance, as analysis has shown that is usually the cheapest time to buy.’

Apparently insurers think you’re disorganized and therefore riskier if you leave it a day or so before you need it.

However, I saved costs by adding myself as a named driver, even though the policy is in my son’s name. I have 35 years of driving experience, nine years of no-claim bonus and I will also be driving the car, reducing the risk of an accident.

Please note that you should never write someone down as the main driver if they are not. This is known as ‘fronting’ and is fraud — and could result in a criminal conviction and invalidation of your insurance.

Best deal: Jane managed to cut Christian's insurance down to just over £1,300 with a company called Ticker, using various hacks

Best deal: Jane managed to cut Christian’s insurance down to just over £1,300 with a company called Ticker, using various hacks

As a named driver, I could use another handy MSE tip. Anthony Forchione, senior insurance analyst at the consumer website, says, “Tweak your job title — using an insurance job selector tool — to see if a different job title for the same position could lower your costs. Whatever you do, always be honest.’

For example, entering “editorial staff” instead of “journalist” reduces insurance that would cost £1,000 to £792, according to the website’s job picker tool.

Another surprising hack is that it is not always cheaper to take out third-party insurance, which is the minimum required by law.

With this you are insured for damage to someone else’s vehicle or injury to someone in an accident. This also applies to accidents caused by your passenger. However, it does not cover medical costs if you are injured or repairs to your own car.

Those who purchase third-party coverage are statistically more likely to file a claim than those who purchase full comprehensive coverage, driving the price up.

‘Increase the voluntary excess [a sum of money you agree to pay towards the cost of a car insurance claim, which is separate from the compulsory excess set by your insurer, can also reduce your premium, but you should make sure that the excess is an amount you can afford to pay yourself should your car get damaged,’ says Sam Richardson, of consumer champion Which? Money.

Like all insurance, it is cheaper to pay annually rather than in monthly instalments. And you might shave off hundreds of pounds if you have multi-car insurance. Also, if you live somewhere where your child isn’t going to drive much, consider paying per mile.

Marmalade quoted me £233.89 for every 500 miles after the starter price of £363.40, including the first 500 miles. 

Savings: Like all insurance, it is cheaper to pay for your car insurance annually rather than in monthly instalments. And you might shave off hundreds of pounds if you have a multi-car deal

Savings: Like all insurance, it is cheaper to pay for your car insurance annually rather than in monthly instalments. And you might shave off hundreds of pounds if you have a multi-car deal

We live in the countryside, so this wasn’t an option. Nor was a car club — a short-term car rental service that allows members access to locally parked cars for which you pay by the minute, hour or day.

Most require young drivers to have held their licence for at least a year, and some have a minimum age requirement.

Most policies I looked at involved using a black box, which measures driving in terms of braking, speed, steering, times and distance — this is known as telematics.

The device is supplied by the insurance company. You can stick it to your windscreen or plug into the cigarette lighter; it communicates with an app on your phone. Sometimes, no device is needed — just a smartphone.

Telematics policies can make a difference, particularly in year two,’ says Mr Daniels, adding that companies reward good drivers with discounts.

Be aware, though, of curfews, which limit the times you can drive. Bell, which is part of the Admiral insurance group doesn’t have a curfew, but in its FAQ, it states that ‘frequently driving at risky times such as after 10pm will reduce your driving score’. A salesman was not able to define ‘frequently’, and suggested that if it was more than a few times, the policy wasn’t for us.

Although my son has a black box with Ticker, and often drives after 10pm, he has maintained a ‘gold’ standard driving score. So, hopefully, he can look forward to a lower premium next year.

It’s not the same for his 85-year-old grandfather, though. ABI says: ‘Our data shows that for drivers aged 86 to 90, the frequency of claims and average cost is higher, which pushes premiums up for older drivers.’

Nubee and Bell were approached for comment. Bell subsequently agreed that it had not adequately addressed the issue of what was considered ‘regularly’ driving at night. 

A spokesman later said that, ‘if someone takes a short trip once or twice a week between 10pm and 4am, and overall drives a larger number of miles annually, then it should not impact too much on their driving score’.


10 tips for getting cheaper cover for new drivers 

  1. Be sure to shop around: Try several comparison websites before buying.
  2. Think about the type of car: If you haven’t yet bought one, get a small engine vehicle such as a Hyundai i10.
  3. Buy fully comprehensive insurance rather than third party: It may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s often cheaper.
  4. Buy in advance: Purchasing 23 days before your policy expires is the ideal.
  5. Consider telemetrics: Using a black box to monitor your driving skills can save money.
  6. Add an experienced named driver to the policy: But they must still drive the car; they will have the same level of cover as the main driver (but if they have an accident your no-claims bonus will be affected).
  7. Tweak your job title: You can legally describe your job in a different way to cut costs — as long as you are honest.
  8. Raise your excess: The more you agree to pay of any claim the less your premium will be.
  9. Take out multi-car insurance: It’s often cheaper to insure two or more cars.
  10. Pay your premium annually, not in instalments: It’s a big upfront cost, but you save in the long run.

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