At the end of 2017, comparison website Confused.com revealed that car insurance premiums are rising at a record rate of 14% a year, with drivers paying £101 a year more to cover their car in 2017 than in 2016. And the bad news doesn’t end there, with experts predicting further hikes throughout 2018.

Insurance is the biggest financial burden motorists face, with the average driver shelling out £840 a year for their premium. Of course, there are discrepancies in the cost of cover depending on age, gender and car type, but the 2017 Car Insurance Price Index shows that no demographic escaped increases in 2016/17.

Thankfully, there are several things you can do to help reduce your car insurance premium. In this guide, we offer 14 practical ways to save on insurance in 2018, from investing in a dash cam to shopping around for the very best deals.

1.     Fit a Dash Cam

car with dashboard camera

Dash cams have become a must-have gadget for motorists, with thousands of drivers now using the tech to record and monitor their journeys. But will fitting a dash cam reduce your car insurance premium?

According to Confused.com, some UK insurers are now offering a discount of 10% for drivers who use a dash cam. Why? Dash cams offer a simple way of proving who was responsible for an accident, saving the insurance company legwork and legal costs; the discount is their way of giving something back to the customer.

Dash cams are also a useful tool in protecting your no-claims discount and avoiding a hike in your insurance premium after an accident. The police and insurance companies are now accepting dash cam footage as evidence in claims disputes, helping innocent drivers avoid unfair penalties for an incident they weren’t responsible for.

2.     Use Comparison Websites

One of the biggest mistakes drivers make when buying insurance is failing to shop around for the best deal. With a huge number of price comparison sites now available, it’s easier than ever to make sure you’re paying the absolute lowest price for car insurance.

Comparison websites take the hard work out of shopping for insurance, and as long as you enter accurate details and compare like-for-like cover, you’re almost guaranteed to make a saving. Using a comparison site offers additional perks too, from automatic renewal reminders to money off vouchers for the cinema, restaurants and even breakdown cover.

While the majority of providers can be found on comparison sites, some of the biggest and most reputable insurers choose to remain independent, so make sure you get a separate quote from them before settling on a policy. These sites include Direct Line, Aviva and Admiral.

3.     Up Your Voluntary Excess

increasing car insurance excess

Choosing to pay a higher amount of voluntary excess will bring your premium down. Provided you aren’t in an accident in which you’re at fault, this is a good way to save on the annual cost of cover. However, be wary of raising the excess point too high, particularly if you have a lower value car, as you could wind up with a nasty repair bill following an accidental bump.

4.     Pay Annually, Not Monthly

When you choose to pay for your car insurance on a monthly basis, you’re lumped with high interest rates that add hundreds of pounds to the yearly insurance cost. That’s why we’d always recommend paying for insurance on an annual basis in one lump sum, therefore avoiding any direct debit interest.

If paying for insurance on an annual basis isn’t feasible, a 0% purchase credit card is a great way to avoid high rates of interest, provided you pay off the amount within the interest-free period.

5.     Drive Less

cycling to work public transport

While driving less isn’t a viable option for some motorists, making an effort to cover fewer miles could help you save on insurance costs.

One of the first things insurance companies look at when calculating insurance is a driver’s estimated annual mileage. They work on the basis that the more you drive, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident – and thus the higher the cost of insurance.

There are lots of ways to reduce your annual mileage, from taking the bus to work to getting out on your bike on the weekend. However you do it, driving less could be the answer to your insurance woes.

6.     Avoid Commuting by Car at Peak Times

In a similar vein, you can reduce your car insurance premium by avoiding driving during peak times – such as the morning and evening rush hours when you’re commuting to and from work.

With more cars on the road during peak hours, insurance providers believe that motorists are more likely to have an accident, and therefore push up the price for those who commute during this period. When you’re searching for insurance prices, select social and leisure only to benefit from a lower insurance cost.

Tip: Always be honest when buying car insurance. If you bend the truth only a little, your insurance cover may be invalidated – leaving you facing huge legal, repair and medical costs in the event of an accident.

7.     Opt for Black Box Technology

driving safely brake lights

Since they were introduced, black boxes – or a telematics policy as they’re known to insurers – have helped thousands of drivers pay less for car insurance.

These small devices fit to the undercarriage of your car and monitor how safely you drive, assessing things such as acceleration, braking and speed to help calculate your insurance costs. They’re especially great for young drivers or those whose premium has shot up following an accident, as they provide the insurance company with real-time evidence of how you drive – for a more accurate insurance cost.

8.     Protect Your No-Claims Discount

Racking up a large no-claims discount through years of safe driving is the best way to ensure an affordable insurance policy. That’s why it’s vital that you do your utmost to protect your no-claims bonus, otherwise you could quickly go from paying a few hundred pounds to over a thousand.

The bad news is, no-claims discount protection varies from insurer to insurer. For instance, one insurer may honour your no-claims discount when you’ve been in an accident that wasn’t your fault, while others may not. Always read the small print on your policy before switching to another provider to protect that valuable no-claims bonus.

9.     Fit an Alarm, Immobiliser or Tracking Device

unlocking car alarm protection

The majority of drivers rely on a factory-fitted alarm to secure and protect their car, but did you know that you could save 5% on your insurance premium by fitting a more advanced alarm, immobiliser or tracking device? Sure, there’s a sizeable upfront cost, but the amount you spend on securing your car will be offset by the savings you make on your insurance policy.

10.  Don’t be Afraid to Haggle

Through ease and convenience, many drivers settle for an insurance policy that doesn’t offer the best value for money – and often from a provider they’ve spent years with, without exploring the market.

If you’ve a preferred insurer in mind, but have found insurance cheaper elsewhere through a price comparison search, challenge the company to match the amount. Nine times out of 10, they’ll happily reduce your premium to keep your custom – so it always pays to haggle on price.

11.  Use Your Garage for Overnight Parking

cars parked in safe garage

Insurers set great store by where drivers keep their cars overnight, so perhaps it’s time you cleared that junk out of your garage and started stowing your car in there on an evening.

Not only will you enjoy the freedom of not having to scrape your windscreen every morning throughout the winter, you could make a great saving on your insurance premium. Just make sure to use your garage wherever possible once you’ve told the insurer that’s where your car is kept, as parking it outside could invalidate your cover.

12.  Avoid Putting Lots of Drivers on Your Policy

Partner, kids, colleagues – lots of people can end up on your car insurance policy, and this could be having a negative impact on your premium. Try to limit the number of named drivers where possible, and instead add people to the policy temporarily only when they need to use the car.

13.  Keep Personal Details Up to Date

If you have recently moved to a new house, changed jobs, built a garage or are now in a position where you’re doing fewer miles per year, you should tell your insurance provider. Even if you’re midway through a 12-month policy, you could be entitled to a refund or lower monthly payments if your new circumstances affect your premium.

14.  Try a Drive-Safe App

car insurance safety app

Taking black box telematics technology to the next level, several insurers have launched drive-safe apps which monitor how safely you drive to give you a more accurate insurance quote – and potentially save you hundreds on your next premium.

One of the most successful of these is Aviva Drive, which uses smartphone technology to assess how well you drive. To receive an accurate insurance quote, the app requires you to log 200 miles of driving based on your normal daily journeys. It then provides a score out of 10, with drivers rated 7 or above saving an average of £170 on a comprehensive car insurance policy.

At Holts, we can’t lower your insurance but we can help you get from A to B without worrying about unexpected breakdowns and roadside emergencies. Click here to visit the homepage and browse our collection of DIY car maintenance products today.