Changing the date your car insurance starts could save you 50%
There are any number of tips and tricks to reducing your car insurance, including selecting the most insurer-friendly job title, and including more experienced drivers on your policy. However, one variable you’ve probably never considered when getting an insurance quotation is thestart date of the policy- and according to Which!!!, that alone can save you up to 49%...
While we don’t know why they did it, Which!!! Money pretended to be a Ford Focus driver living in South London and contacted 15 major car insurance providers, changing only the start date of the policy in getting comparable quotes. The difference in price they report is astonishing.
The baseline initial quotation Which!!! requested was for insurance cover active from the 30 January, which was the day of the quotation. After getting the details, Which!!! then went back and changed the 'start date' to see what effect, if any, this had on the annual price.
Now, in the majority of cases, the difference of a day made little or no difference to the premium- after all, an annual policy is going to cover all 365 days, so even if certain days are more accident-prone than others, they’ll have to cover you sooner or later. However, Which!!!’s investigations did find several insurers where the one little day made a huge difference. Moving the date forward a day to 31 January knocked £121 off Nationwide's premium, £115 off LV's and £95 off Direct Line's.
The biggest shocker came from Tesco Bank, where a one-day deferral of cover cut the renewal price down from £1,577 by a massive £780- that’s 49%. And postponing the start date to 1 February took the quote down another £99, giving a total reduction of £879 over the two days.
But why does a day make such a difference? Even the smallest quoted saving of £95 is worth having if you can get it. There are, apparently, two schools of thought on the matter. On one hand, some insurers reckon that that those who buy cover in advance statistically pose less risk, resulting in cheaper premiums. A Tesco Bank spokesperson said: “Some of our underwriters have identified that the period of time between the quote date and start date of the policy can be a risk factor, and so this can affect the premium that is offered.” While we can see the logic in assuming the kind of person who sorts out their car insurance three weeks before renewal is, perhaps, less likely to drive with reckless abandon for the speed limit, or without regularly checking their dipstick, does doing it the day before (as Which!!!’s experiment would have had it) really count as doing it in advance? Isn’t it more likely that those trying to sort car insurance on the day of cover are being penalised for leaving it until the absolute last minute?
However, perhaps it isn’t that at all. LV said that it sometimes offers discounts to customers who insure in advance, but that it regularly changes rates in response to market conditions and “policies that start on different dates may have different prices, according to when a rate change takes effect.”
In either case though, if you don’t use your car every day, and you keep it off a public highway (on a driveway or in a garage, for example), next time you renew it might make sense to check and see whether delaying by a day or two might make a welcome difference to your pocket, particularly if renewing with one of the firms cited above.