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Friday, March 27, 2015

Tips for how younger drivers can beat the car insurance trap

Car insurance costs are on the up, after it emerged that following a steady period of declining prices, premiums have now gone up for the first time since June 2011.
Drivers can expect to fork out a hefty £582 a year for cover, according to car insurance provider
But for the under 25s, that is a drop in the ocean – on average youngsters now pay about £1,911 for car insurance - although this is down by £792 since this time last year.
Despite that high cost, many younger drivers still want the freedom of being behind the wheel. We explain how they can try to beat the high insurance cost trap and we also reveal how it can be possible to drive something more fancy than a tiny-engined hatchback and still keep costs down. 
Learner drivers: What are the costs?

Men vs women and car insurance costs

Until fairly recently, female drivers have been offered some respite from high costs, as they are seen as much safer - this is especially true for younger drivers. Firms have even set up with the specific purpose of offering cover to women, with the likes of insurance firm Sheila’s Wheels making the most of their better claims history.
But the days of cheaper premiums for women are numbered, thanks to a European Court of Justice ruling, which says insurers cannot charge men and women different premiums because it constitutes discrimination.
The change came into effect on December 21 2012 and the younger you are, the bigger the impact.
So, with both men and women under 25 in the same boat for the first time, here are some tips to secure your cheapest car insurance option.

Tricks and traps: How to get better car insurance offers

- Compare prices Use an online comparison service to do the hard work for you. Put in your details and check the prices that come up. You can alter the excess that you are willing to pay and the mileage you will drive and get new quotes. Also check the insurers that don't feature in comparison sites, the big two are Direct Line and Aviva. This is Money's car insurance search is powered by MoneySupermarket and will search more than 130 insurers for you.
- Haggle! The car insurance market is notoriously competitive. Once you've been on This Is Money's comparison and found your cheapest price (below), get on the phone and start bargaining!
- Avoid paying monthly charges - direct debit installments generally come hand-in-hand with high interest rates. An alternative is to borrow the money on a 0 per cent purchase credit card and then clear it within a year.
- Think outside the box: An accelerated no-claims bonus, such as Admiral's Bonus Accelerator, could give you a year's no claims bonus after just 10 months.
- Or, if you've previously been insured as an additional driver on another policy, see if you can transfer a no claims bonus to your own insurance coverage. Some insurers do this, including Direct Line.
- Try for a discount by insuring two or more vehicles between friends or family members with the same firm.

- Try for a discount by insuring two or more vehicles between friends or family members with the same firm.


AA drivesafe - Anti-theft tracker installed in your car for free - Online drivesafe dashboard 24/7 to check your score - Courtesy car while yours is repaired - Dedicated UK claim line available 24/7 Autosaint - Free telematics device and free installation - Curfew and non-curfew policies available - Locate your car if it's stolen
Co-op Young Driver Insurance
- Free box and installation
- Online dashboard to check your driving
Hastings smartmiles - Telematics box to measure your driving style - Comprehensive insurance policy including windscreen repair - Theft tracking - Courtesy car while yours is being repaired Bell from Admiral - Free tracker with 24/7 theft hotline - Access to personalised online driver dashboard - 24/7 accident and glass repair helpline - Courtesy car while yours is at an approved garage Insurethebox - Premium fixed for the year with no curfews and no fines - Acts as theft tracking device - Dedicated UK claims line available 24/7 - Courtesy car while yours is being repaired Coverbox - Free telematics box/theft tracker installed - Driving profile saved on your personal online portal - Comprehensive policies

Blackboxes - Pay how you drive

If you are a good driver, and are happy to prove it, you could get money off by installing a telematics device, or ‘black box’, which monitors how you drive. 
As an example, The Co-op's young driver insurance policy includes fitting a box into 17-25-year-olds' cars to monitor acceleration, braking, cornering and time of driving.
It then charges for insurance every 90 days, taking into account any discounts or loadings.
Although bad driving could see your insurance cancelled, research carried out on behalf of the Co-op claims the service benefits young drivers who drive well, with 82 per cent of young drivers saving claiming a safer driver discount.

Pay when you drive

The system is simple: A tracking device is fitted to your car and the less you drive, the less you pay - another option for young drivers looking at ways to keep costs to a minimum.
iKube is aimed specifically at 17-25 year-olds, who don't often drive between 11pm and 5am, with fees charged for driving outside of hours.
Those that choose Insure The Box pick either a 6,000 or 8,000 mile per year policy, but earn extra miles by driving safely - or buy more online.
Coverbox also offers a 'pay as you drive' scheme. Although not specifically aimed at young drivers, it does offer some under 30s £50 cashback.
For low mileage drivers these schemes can cut costs, especially if you don’t drive at night (11pm - 5am), when the price per mile is bumped up.

Dos and Don'ts

DO compare prices for third party and fully comp. Although third party insurance should be cheapest for young drivers as it offers a lower level of cover, this isn't always the rule.
Check BOTH using our comparison table (below).

DO think about adding a second or even third driver to your insurance, especially an older more experienced one. This can even out the average risk - which could mean cheaper insurance of up to £1,000.
Although the obvious people to add are those with a long track record of good driving, you may be surprised - anyone that's in a lower risk category than you can help. Younger drivers with a job perceived by insurance firms to be lower-risk can shave off pounds from your premium - strangely, some claim adding younger siblings, on a provisional license, helped to cut costs.
DON'T confuse this with 'fronting', which is illegal - see below.
DO see if you can get cashback via a cashback website to reduce the cost.
DO, once you’ve tried our comparison site, check specialist young driver policies to see if they undercut them. And:
DO try a specific young driver broker. Swinton's Young Driver Insurance is worth checking out, as are A Plan, Thames City, Only Young Drivers, Adrian Flux and Endsleigh.
DO check your occupation. When you are asked to give your job title in the application process, there may be a number of options that apply to you so try them all to see if it makes a difference. But bear in mind that if you choose an occupation that couldn’t reasonably apply to you and is likely to be considered fraudulent, your cover could be invalidated.

Can I pimp my ride or drive a fast car?

The more powerful your engine, and the more changes you make to your car (unless they are for security), the more you'll be charged.
But, if you are under 25 and you just can’t imagine life without your high-powered SUV, or a sporty little number,here are some suggestions to avoid insurance premiums high enough to make Donald Trump weep.
•    Shop around - comparison sites can be good for standard risks, but a young driver with a powerful car will not tend to do as well on these sites, compared to a specialist broker who has negotiated a scheme specifically for this market (examples below).
•    Will you only drive a few thousand miles a year? Try a limited mileage policy.
•    If you've passed your test recently, get yourself a PassPlus, IAM or Max Driver qualification and then insurance firms, such as Adrian Flux could knock off up to 25% - which means hundreds of pounds for teenage drivers. Many councils offer discounts of up to 50 per cent on the price of the course. Visit Direct Gov for more information.
•    Got mods? Make sure you tell your insurance firm about all modifications to your vehicle, and check how they would affect your price before you do them, even if they don't enhance performance. If you don't, your insurance could be invalidated. Some mods might even reduce your premium.
•    If you've been riding a moped, scooter or other motorcycle, ask if you can transfer your no claims bonus to your car policy.
•    Are you in an owners club or online forum? If not, think about joining one. From an insurer's perspective, people who are enthusiastic about their car and learn all they can about it will take better care of it. Even better, discounts can be as much as 15 per cent.
•    Keep your car garaged if you can. Fitting a security device such as an alarm or an immobiliser will also lower your insurance bill, sometimes substantially.
•    Don't be a teen racer The more points you have on your license, the higher the cost of your insurance. One speeding conviction could bump up your premium by around 10 per cent, but two may cost you up to 25 per cent more. If you have a conviction for using a mobile phone while driving, it can increase your premium by a whopping 50 per cent.
•    Don't go for a modern car if you want something a bit less ordinary Insurance premiums for 'classic cars' are often discounted, although running costs may be higher.
For example, managing director at insurance consultants Osborne & Sons David Button, recently charged £677 for a young driver's two-litre Westfield sports car.
The driver, a 23-year-old from Norfolk, was prepared to drive no more than 3,000 miles a year. He could also have been entitled to a 10 per cent discount for being an owners club member.
However, Button was keen to make clear all circumstances are different.
Classic car insurer Footman James has recently launched its young enthusiasts policy. If you can prove you are not just looking for a cheap policy and you have a genuine interest, those as young as 17 can get a cheap insurance policy on their classic.
So, despite the challenges, reasonable prices for modified or powerful vehicles are achievable; quotes provided to this Is Money by specialist car insurer Adrian Flux also demonstrate that investing in your street cred doesn't have to decimate your bank balance.

Parents and fronting:  Remember the small print

- Unsuspecting mums and dads looking for cheap deals could find themselves facing court proceedings for ‘fronting’ –  WHICH IS ILLEGAL - if they falsely declare to insurance companies that they drive their car more than their son or daughter.
The consequences can be serious as fronting invalidates insurance and can lead to prosecution.
Insurance companies may even refuse point blank to add a youngster to a policy if they believe he or she is intended as the main driver. It could also cause huge headaches if a claim is made - with some firms refusing to pay out.
- One option for parents looking to cut costs is to add under 25s to insurance policies on a temporary basis - from one day to a few months - if they are visiting or at home from university. Short Term Car Insurance Under 25, offer tailored policies for young drivers, but the AA and eCar Insurance also offer good short-term options.

General advice to driving abroad

You may be asked to produce your documents at any time. Make sure that they are in order and readily available to avoid the risk of a police fine or even having your car taken away.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have all documentation needed to comply with the requirements of immigration, customs, health and other relevant regulations.
If you are traveling in a vehicle other than a car or motorcycle, or you are taking a boat, you may need additional documents.
Image result for best cars

Documents to take

  • valid full (not provisional) driving license
  • driving license paper counterpart – if you have a photo card license
  • an International Driving Permit (when necessary)
  • vehicle registration document (V5c) – the original not a copy
  • motor insurance certificate
  • passport(s)
  • your travel insurance documents
You may need a visa for certain countries too.
Check with your motor insurer to make sure you have the cover you expect when driving abroad. They may ask to be notified when you travel abroad or provide only third party cover when you do.

Borrowed, hired or leased

If you are taking a vehicle abroad that is company owned, hired or borrowed you will need a letter of authorisation from the registered keeper.
In addition you will need to take either the original vehicle registration document (V5c) or a Vehicle on Hire certificate (VE103).
The VE103 is the only legal alternative to the vehicle registration document and can be obtained from BVRLA/All fleet services on 01452 881037.

In an emergency

112 is the European emergency call number you can dial anywhere in the European Union in case of accident, assault or in any other distress situation.


Don't leave handbags or other attractive items in view at any time, even when you are in the car.

Contact the Foreign Office Travel Advice Unit for crime and personal safety advice before you travel.

Drinking and driving

There is only one safe rule – if you drink, don't drive. Laws are strict and the penalties severe.

Breathalysers in France

1 March 2012 – the French government confirmed that from 1 July 2012 drivers of all motor vehicles and motorcycles (excluding mopeds) must carry a breathalyser. The regulation was to be enforced from 1 November 2012 (later postponed to 1 March 2013) and anyone stopped after that date who fails to produce a breathalyser when requested was to receive an on-the-spot fine of €11.
January 2013 – the French government announced that the implementation of the sanction (fine) for drivers not carrying a breathalyser – a fine of €11 – has been postponed indefinitely.
So you are still required to carry a self-test breathalyser when driving in France but there is no current legislation demanding a fine for non-compliance.
The original official announcement stated that one unused, certified breathalyser must be produced showing the French certification mark NF. The breathalyser produced has to be in date – single-use breathalysers normally have a validity of 12 months.

Medical treatment

If you’re going to a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, make sure you’ve got a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
The EHIC card entitles you to reduced-cost, sometimes free, medical treatment in most European countries but the cover provided under the respective national schemes is not always comprehensive – and the cost of bringing a person back to the UK in the event of illness or death is never covered so you should make sure you have adequate travel insurance as well.
Read the Department of Health booklet 'Health Advice for Travellers'
Apply for a European Health Insurance Card

Credit cards

UK issued credit cards are not always accepted at stores or petrol stations in other countries. Check with the card company before you go, particularly if you plan to rely on the card for payments.

Mobile phones

Use of a hand-held mobile phone while driving is prohibited in many countries.


Contact the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) helpline on 0870 241 1710 if you are planning to travel with a pet.

Show your card

An AA personal membership card includes the 'show your card' symbol on the reverse which gives access to hundreds of discounts in Europe and the USA.


Take a spare pair of spectacles if you wear them – especially if you are the sole driver.

Think right

It's easy to forget to drive on the right, particularly after doing something familiar, such as leaving a petrol station or car park.

GB sticker

You must display a GB sign - failure to comply could result in an on-the-spot fine.
If your car has number plates that include the GB euro-symbol (Europlates) you don't have to display a conventional GB 'sticker' within the EU.
In some countries outside the EU a GB 'sticker' is required even if you have euro-plates, so it is always safer to display one.
The distinguishing sign for vehicles travelling in International Traffic is governed by the 1949 Road Traffic Convention, annexe 4 of which stipulates the size and appearance of the sign - one to three letters in capital latin characters with a minimum height of 80mm (3.1in.) and a stroke width of 10mm (0.4in.). The letters shall be painted in black on a white background of elliptical form with the major axis horizontal.

Reflective jackets

Many countries require all drivers including visitors to carry reflective jackets.
In Norway and Portugal they are compulsory for residents only but we still recommend you carry them.
The AA recommends that you carry at least two reflective jackets/waistcoats in the passenger compartment - one for the driver and one for a passenger. Our country-by-country advice includes specific national requirements.
Reflective jackets must conform to EU Standard BS EN 471: 1994 Class 1 or 2.
Car hire companies don't all provide reflective jackets (or other compulsory equipment) as standard in their cars. Check with the hire company before you go.

Reflective clothing for motorcyclists

January 2013 – a law that made reflective equipment compulsory for motorcycle riders and passengers in France from 1 January 2013 has been abolished.
The requirement was to have been that clothing must have a minimum reflective surface of 150cm2 (approx 23in2) in total, either in one piece or in several pieces, and must be worn between the neck and waist.


Adjust the beam pattern to suit driving on the right so that the dipped beam doesn't dazzle oncoming drivers.
The legal requirement is to 'not cause dazzle to oncoming drivers' rather than specifically to adjust/convert headlamp beam pattern.
Delays and bad weather can't always be predicted so even if you're only making a short trip and don't plan to drive at night we recommend that you at least carry a set of headlamp beam convertors with you – unless your lights can be adapted without them.
  • Don't leave it to the last minute to find out what you need to do – it might be necessary to have a dealer make an adjustment for you.
  • Beam converter kits may not be suitable for all types of headlight – check carefully.
High-intensity discharge (HID), halogen or xenon headlights
  • Some headlights have an internal 'shutter' that can be moved into place by a screw or lever adjustment at the back of the headlamp unit, but others are less convenient and the dealer will need to make the adjustment.
  • Some headlamp beam converter kits are suitable for these types of light too.
Remove headlamp converters as soon as you return to the UK.

Warning triangle

Many countries require visiting motorists to carry a warning triangle. Check our country by country advice before you go.

Leaded petrol

Leaded petrol and Lead Replacement Petrol (LRP) are no longer generally available in northern European countries. You should be able to buy antiwear additives but it's best to take a small supply of the additive you use at home.


Don't overload the car as, safety risks apart, this can incur fines and possibly invalidate your insurance.

Booze cruises

Breakdowns caused by overloading are common, particularly around Christmas. Carrying five cases of wine is equivalent to having another passenger in the car and if you overload you could pay more in repair bills than you saved on your shopping.
Overloading can:
  • damage suspension
  • burn out the clutch
  • cause punctures or uneven wear on tyres

Rear-view mirrors

A door or wing-mirror on the left-hand side is very helpful when driving on the right. Get one fitted if your vehicle doesn't have one.


Service your car well in advance to reduce the chance of expensive breakdowns while you're abroad.

Speed-trap detection devices

The use or possession of devices to detect police radar is illegal in most European countries. Penalties can include fine, driving ban, and even imprisonment.
Some countries now also prohibit the use of GPS based navigation systems which have maps indicating the location of fixed speed cameras meaning that you must deactivate the 'fixed speed camera' PoI (Point of Interest) function.

Travel insurance

It's always a good idea to take out travel insurance for your trip abroad to ensure that you're covered for accidents and emergencies. For a competitive quote for travel insurance, including special trips such as skiing, backpacking and weddings, go to AA Travel Insurance.


Check all tyres for condition, pressure and tread depth before you go.
Most countries have the same requirement as the UK - a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm over the central three-quarters of the tread and around the whole circumference.
Tyres wear out quickly after they get down to 3mm so if they are this worn think about getting them replaced before you go.
Some require winter tyres at certain times of the year in which case a minimum tread depth of 3mm is generally required (the Czech Republic now requires 4mm).

Snow chains

Snow chains are important for any winter motoring and compulsory in some countries even when using winter treys.

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