Many of our bills are on the rise, and insurance prices unfortunately aren’t exempt from this trend.
For instance the average car insurance premium paid increased this year, after several years of falling, according to the Association of British Insurers.
But there are measures you can take to get the best deal for cover you can depend on.
Here, we share eight tips to help you keep your insurance costs contained in 2023.
1) Don’t automatically renew your insurance
The ban on the insurance ‘loyalty penalty’ at the beginning of 2022 brought an end to new customer discounts.
Recent statistics suggest this appears to have contributed to prices going up – at least for some groups of customers – with Consumer Intelligence reporting that over 2022, the most competitive car insurance quotes have risen by 17.4% between November 2021 and November 2022.
However, Which? research has also shown it’s still well-worth shopping around when your policy is up for renewal.
Some 48% of Which? members who haggled in the first six months of 2022 made savings – on average £56 for car insurance and £54 for home insurance. What’s more, seven in ten who tried haggling found it easy to do.
Our research also found that there are still likely to be savings available by switching. Drivers who’d not haggled but had changed car insurer were paying £43 less, on average, than those who’d stayed put. Home insurance switchers were paying £103 less.
How to do it
Use the best quotes you’ve gathered to negotiate with your insurer – and take your new business elsewhere if it doesn’t improve its offer.
2) Search for cover on comparison sites
Some insurers set different prices depending on the method you’ve used to get your quote (such as via a comparison site) and some comparison sites also offer cash-saving incentives to entice you to use them.
At the time of writing, Confused.com and MoneySupermarket guarantee to beat your car or home insurer’s renewal offer or refund the difference plus a £20 voucher. GoCompare, meanwhile, offers free ‘excess cover’ with car insurance. This reimburses up to £250 of your excess if you claim (excluding breakdown and glass damage).
When we ran test quotes in October for a 38-year-old Ford Focus Zetec driver, adding a voluntary excess of £250 (which we’d be able to claim back) reduced the cheapest five quotes by between £55 and £58 – or around 12%.
Comparison sites aren’t without shortcomings – not all insurers or policies are on them, and we’ve found they don’t always ask detailed enough questions to allow customers with more complex circumstances to get accurate quotes. However, as a low-effort start to your search for great deals, they’re a no-brainer.
How to do it
At renewal, check how competitive your insurer’s renewal offer is by looking at quotes on one – or ideally, several – comparison sites.
Make sure you’re comparing like with like, as some insurers may offer a larger range of policies (for example, ‘essentials-style’ policies) on some comparison sites.
3) Get the timing right
Lots of factors affect your quotes – from your personal details to general levels of claims and inflation. When you buy can also have an effect.
If you leave arranging car or home insurance until the last minute, generally speaking, insurers are likely to charge you more than if you’d purchased the cover a few weeks in advance of the cover starting.
The time of year can also affect your quotes. When we analysed 33 months of car insurance premium data from Compare the Market (Jan 2020-Sept 2022), we found regular variations of as much as £50 in the average premium depending on the month you buy, with prices peaking in December and dropping between February and April.
How to do it
Try buying your insurance weeks (rather than days) ahead of the policy going live.
Also, if you’re a driver, it might be worth checking what premiums are available in the early months of the year. If they’re lower than what you’re paying – and the saving is larger than your insurer’s cancellation fee – making an early switch will save you a bit in the short term and should mean you’re not being disadvantaged by seasonality in the long run.
4) Make sure the cover is adequate
Opting for the very cheapest policy you can find won’t necessary save you money in the long run.
If your policy comes with steep excesses or significant exclusions, you’ll feel the pinch when it’s time to claim. This means it’s vital you check the policy details before buying the cover.
How to do it
In an ideal world, we’d have time to absorb every enthralling detail of each prospective insurer’s policy wording booklet – and come away with comprehensive knowledge of the cover’s benefits and limits. In this world, at least do the following before signing up:
Save time: Use our unique ratings of hundreds of car, home, travel and pet insurance policies to whittle down your choice of policies.
5) Make sure the cover fits you
While not spotting a shortcoming in your insurance can cost you dear, it’s important to have a level of cover that fits your needs – and that you’re not paying for cover you’ll never use.
How to do it: excesses
One of the most direct ways to tailor a policy’s cover to you is to play with the voluntary excess, as increasing this will reduce your premium.
The ‘total’ excess (any compulsory excess plus the voluntary excess) should be no higher an amount than what you could afford to pay out of pocket in a claim.
How to do it: cover
It’s no use paying through the nose for cover that’s of little to no value to you.
For example, if you’re content with the breakdown cover that comes with your bank account, you don’t need to buy it again with your car insurance. And if you have personal possessions cover with your home insurance, you might want to consider whether you also need separate phone or gadget cover.
6) Make sure the quote is accurate
It’s easy to fall out of the habit of paying careful attention to questions asked when applying for insurance or checking assumptions made about your circumstances at your yearly renewal.
For example, perhaps two years ago, you made a daily commute to work during rush hour – but now do so less frequently and drive fewer miles a year. Similarly, you might have made a change to your property – or the value of your insured contents may have changed.
Keeping your insurer up to speed means you get a more accurate price – potentially saving you from being overcharged due to out-of-date information about your level of risk.
On the flipside, if you’ve failed to update an insurer about changes in your circumstances, you might find you’re not fully covered (or at worst, your policy is invalidated) when you come to claim.
How to do it
Contact your insurer to report a change in your circumstances – there’s no need to wait until your next renewal.
7) Pay annually (if you can)
Paying by the month for your cover can make it more manageable within your budget, but can be the most expensive option overall.
You’re effectively borrowing the year’s premium to repay in installments. This typically comes with interest – with rates of around 30% APR not being uncommon – hiking your annual cost.
How to do it
Compare the cost of policies based on their total cost – either of the combined monthly payments, or the single annual payment, depending on how you intend to pay.
You could spread the cost of an annual payment using a 0% purchase credit card.
Or you could find an insurer that charges low (or no) fees for monthly payments. We’ve listed the car and home insurers charging the highest and lowest fees.
8) Try a broker
If you’re drawing a blank trawling Google and the comparison sites, or are seeing prices that make you despair having searched in the first place, don’t give up just yet.
If you feel locked out of insurance – perhaps because of your age, the kind of house you live in, a medical condition, or various other circumstances that can make finding insurance difficult – it could be worth trying a broker.
They find insurers, arrange cover for you, and can help with renewal and making a claim. They’re usually paid by commission.
How to do it
Go to the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA). You can find specialist brokers through its ‘find insurance’ web service and helpline.
Beware, some scammers operating on social media pose as brokers but in reality sell fraudulent cover.
The best way to identify a genuine broker is by checking if they are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.