4/30/08

car insurance guide

If you run a car you have to insure it - that's the law. The type of insurance you get varies according to the extent of protection it provides and how much it costs you.

The options

Fully Comprehensive is the most expensive and covers everything - damage to your car, personal injury costs and any third party's vehicle and property.

On very old, cheap cars, annual comprehensive premiums can cost more than the car is worth. But it's a must if you are buying a car using a credit agreement or a loan because if the car is a write-off or stolen you still have to continue paying the finance.

Third Party insurance is the minimum legal cover allowed and is comparatively cheap. It covers damage to the other person's car or compensation but if your own car is stolen, burnt out or damaged it is not covered. Third Party can be beefed up using add-on insurance such as Fire and Theft.

The costs

The price of insurance can add a lot to the cost of motoring so it's worth knowing the factors that affect the premium you are quoted. Shop around and compare quotes from different insurers. They base their premiums on their claims experiences, which naturally differs.

One company may see your area as higher risk than others. One may charge more because of your occupation. Shopping around on the internet makes it even easier because you can quickly see the effect of, for example, accepting a larger excess.

The starting point is the type of car you want to insure. There are many different insurance categories, with price, performance, and the cost of replacement parts the main factors that dictate the one your car falls into. Driving a smaller car is the best way to cut the cost of insurance.

Your age, sex and address all affect the price you are quoted. Young male drivers generally are charged the most, while women in their 50s pay the least. And you will usually pay more if you live in a city rather than in a rural area. Parking your car on the street overnight, rather than in a garage, will also mean higher premiums.

High risk categories

Your age, sex and address all affect the price you are quoted. Young male drivers generally are charged the most, while women in their 50s pay the least. And you will usually pay more if you live in a city rather than in a rural area. Parking your car on the street overnight, rather than in a garage, will also mean higher premiums.

Some insurers might class you as higher risk if you are a sports professional, entertainer, barman, chef or builder, among other occupations. But you may be able to avoid having your premium loaded by shopping around. Some insurers specialise in covering people traditionally regarded as higher risk, or non-standard. Even if you can't avoid having your premium loaded, the extra you are charged is now typically in the region of 10%-15%, down from 30% or 40%.

If you suffer from a health condition that could affect your ability to drive, including epilepsy, vision impairment, certain heart conditions or sleeping disorders, or if you are taking any medication that could do the same, you must inform the DVLA. If you don't, you could be charged with a criminal offence.

How the no claims discount works

You typically get a 30% discount after one year of claim-free driving, rising to 65% after four or five years. But companies vary. Some go up to a 70% maximum while others specialising in younger drivers will give higher discounts at an earlier stage.

Many insurers now offer the opportunity to pay a bit more to protect your no claims bonus. The rules vary but you may be able to make two claims in three years, for example, before your bonus is affected. Protecting your bonus will not stop your insurer from hiking up the premium at renewal following a claim. But at least you won't lose your no claims bonus on top.

Making a claim does not automatically mean you lose your discount. It depends whether the claim is a 'fault' or 'not fault' claim.

This is not just a question of whether or not you were to blame for the accident, but depends on whether your insurer can recover all its costs from someone else.

For example, if you skid on black ice and hit a wall, your claim would be classed as 'Fault', even though you were not to blame, simply because your insurer can't recoup the cost of fixing your car from anyone else.

Where another driver is involved, unless it can be proved beyond doubt that the other driver was to blame, the two insurers will often settle a claim on a 50:50 or 80:20 basis. This means both drivers will lose some of their no claims bonus. With most insurance companies, you will lose two years of no claims bonus if you have a fault claim.

Making a claim

If your car is stolen, report it to the police first and then your insurer. You will have to wait a while because many cars are stolen by joyriders and later recovered.

If it is never found or is a write-off, then you may face another problem. Your car may have been in good condition with a low mileage, and the amount the insurer gives you may not allow you to replace it with an equivalent machine.

In that situation, get hold of a car buyer's guide - Glass's Guide is the most frequently used. If its tables support the insurance company, you'll find it hard to get a better offer, even if the car was in good condition.

If you have been in an accident and the other driver was uninsured, personal injury claims and some damage claims will be met by the Motor Insurers' Bureau - (01908) 240 000).

This is financed by a levy on all insurance companies and was set up to compensate victims who would otherwise lose out through no fault of their own.

It will also pay out if you are hit by a driver who has bought insurance from one of the fly-by-night unauthorised companies that offer cheap insurance. If you find yourself in this position, tell the police.

1 comment:

Isha Kapoor said...

A Third Party Liability is the minimum you need to drive your car or Bike on the Indian roads. Get it to be compliant and ensure peace of mind.