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Tips to obtain cheaper car insurance

With costs continuing to head north, it has never been more important for drivers across the province to try to find identical cover at a cheaper price.

Here are top ten tips — approved by the British Insurance Brokers Association — on how you can cut the cost of your cover :

1. SWITCH INSURER: The best way to reduce the cost of cover is often to change insurers. Call a few telephone-based insurance providers, get some quotes online, or speak to a broker who can compare the cost and levels of cover on your behalf.

A word of caution though: it is important to ensure that you still have the right cover and a cheaper policy still provides what you need. Young drivers, people with high risk cars or convictions and people living in high crime areas and those with risky professions could be better off going to a local broker. You can find a broker at www.biba.org.uk or 0870 950 1790

2. INCREASE YOUR EXCESS: Most policies require you to pay the first £100 of any claim. However, you can opt for a higher excess and qualify for a discount. By increasing the excess to £250, for example, you could save around 10%. Just make sure you can afford to pay £250 in the event of a claim.

3. CHOOSE VEHICLES CAREFULLY: Cars made in Britain, such as Ford Modeos, Astras and Vauxhalls are often cheaper to repair which means insurance premiums are lower. Also, the more powerful the engine, and the more likely the car is to be broken into or stolen will affect the amount you have to pay.

4. FIT SECURITY DEVICES: It may cost money to fit your car with security devices, but the expense can often be recouped through lower premiums. A immobiliser costs around £100, but this can cut around £50 a year off the insurance for a Ford Sierra. Not every system qualifies for a discount so check with your broker before buying one.

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5. CUT DOWN ON MILEAGE: The fewer miles you drive, the less likely you are to have an accident, therefore your insurance premium will reflect lower usage. For example, insurance could be cut by 10% for those who drive less than 3,000 miles.

6. RESTRICT DRIVER NUMBERS: Insuring children can be expensive. Policies are less expensive if only a husband and wife drive the car.

7. CHECK INSURANCE DETAILS: Make sure you are not paying for features you will not use. Comprehensive can be cheaper than third party cover, which does not pay out for damage caused to your vehicle in an accident. Also, if your vehicle is solely for leisure, tell your insurer.

8. DO NOT CLAIM UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY: Insurers reward drivers who do not make claims, with up to 65% off the premium. Before making a claim, make sure it is worth losing your no-claims bonus. You can protect your no claims bonus for between 5 and 10%

9. CHANGE THE MAIN DRIVER: Policies may be cheaper if the car is insured in a woman's name. But be careful not to give fraudulent or misleading information. The person who drives the car for the majority of the time must be named as the main driver, or any future claim under the policy may not be covered.

10. INSURE WITH OWNERS’ CLUB: People with sports or classic cars can get quotes from insurance schemes run by clubs for enthusiasts. Most clubs negotiate cheap deals with specialist insurers. Affinity group insurance can quote competitively, eg Age Concern or Farmer's Union for example.

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