Buying a car

Car insurance guide for new drivers

7 min read • Oct 29, 2018
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If you’re looking for an insurance quote on your first car, there’s probably going to be a lot of questions which don’t make much sense and you’re not sure how to answer. This article is designed to simplify the process. We’ll bust some of the common jargon you’ll come across when looking for a car insurance quote, and take you through some of the questions you’ll be asked.

Types of car insurance

Choosing car insurance can be confusing, and making sure you get the right policy for you can be even trickier when you’re a young driver tackling high premiums.There are three main types of car insurance:

  • Third party - The legal minimum, and normally the cheapest, this covers damages to other drivers and property. You're not covered for damage to your own car or injuries to yourself.
  • Third party fire and theft The same as third party insurance, except it covers you if your vehicle is stolen or damaged by fire.
  • Fully comprehensive - The best but the most expensive form of insurance. It covers both third parties and your own vehicle, and well as, on occasions, the content of your vehicle.

About your car

In order to get your car insurance quote, you’ll need to fill in a few details about the car. You can do this by putting in the registration plate, or, if you don’t know it, by looking up the make, model and year of the vehicle.

If the insurance company or comparison site asks you how much the car is worth, you can use an estimate if you’re not sure of the exact worth. It might be worth using an online valuation service. Autotrader and Parkers, for example, have online tools to help with this.

You’ll also need to state whether the car has any modifications, whether it has an alarm/immobiliser, or a tracker. If you’re not sure how to answer any of these questions, look in your car’s handbook or ask the garage/seller you’re buying it from.

Policy holder details

As a young or new driver, you might not be able to afford your own car. If the vehicle belongs to your parents or another family member, for example, you’ll be asked to disclose this.

About you

Next, you’ll need to tell the insurance company a little bit about yourself. Here, you’ll be able to enter your date of birth, your marital status, your occupation and where you live. You might be wondering why they need to know all of this information, but your personal details allow the insurance company to calculate a quote based on your location and your lifestyle.

The insurance company will also need to know where your vehicle is kept overnight. Here, you can inform the insurance company whether it’s kept in a locked garage, on the driveway or on a public road. You need to be honest when filling in this information, as entering it incorrectly could invalidate your insurance.

Your licence

The section about your licence will be where you state how long you’ve held a driving licence for and whether you’re a provisional licence or full licence holder. You will also need to state whether your licence is for manual or automatic transmission.

Claims and convictions

You will need to disclose whether you have had any motor accidents, claims, convictions or fixed penalty points in the past 5 years. This includes any accidents where you were deemed not to be at fault.

You will also be asked whether you have any unspent non-motoring convictions. Failure to disclose any of this information could invalidate your car insurance.

Additional drivers

If you’re the main driver on your car insurance policy, you’ll be given the option to add any additional drivers. This could be your parents, siblings or anyone else who will be driving your vehicle.

Adding additional drivers on to your policy will not necessarily make your premium cheaper. Any difference in price will depend on the age and experience of the driver, as well as whether they have any motoring convictions or penalty points.

Annual mileage

To retrieve your quote, you’ll need to enter an estimate of your average annual mileage. This number varies from driver to driver. To calculate your own you’ll need to consider how far you travel, on average, on a weekly basis, before calculating the estimate for a year.

If this changes at any point during the year (if, for example, you get a new job), simply phone your insurance company to adjust your quote.

Classes of car insurance

In addition to levels of car insurance cover, there’s also different classes of insurance which depend on what you use your vehicle for. These are:

  • Social, domestic and pleasure - The vehicle is used solely for social, domestic and pleasure. You are covered to use your car for day-to-say activities like shopping, but you cannot use your car to commute or for business.

  • Social, domestic, pleasure and commuting - You can use your vehicle as above, as well as to commute to a single place of work.

  • Business use - If you need to drive for business purposes, you will need to get insured under business use. There are three classes on business use: Class 1, Class and Class 3. The terms of each class will depend on your insurance provider, so make sure you check which one you require.

Your excess

Finally, you’ll need to choose the amount of excess you will pay if you make a claim. Excess is a sum of money that you pay your car insurance provider to go towards the cost of making a claim.

Excess is split into two parts. First, there’s the compulsory excess which depends on your age, your car and the type of claim. There’s also the voluntary excess which you set and agree to pay if you make a claim. This is usually between £250 and £750, and the higher the excess you choose, the lower your premium. Remember, though, that if you do make a claim, you’ll have to shell out more for choosing a higher excess.

Image via NRMA Motoring and Services.

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