Seriously: shop around for your car insurance

The insurance renewal for our main car (a 2005 Saab 9-5 estate) came through yesterday. I was about to pick up the phone and renew when I was struck that the premium seemed higher than I expected — £823.62 for the year (plus the extra 10% they charge you for paying monthly instead of up front). Sure enough, when I checked last year’s renewal, I found it had been only £569.22. So they’d tried to slip a 45% increase past us.

The insurance company in question, in case you want to know to avoid them, was Direct Line.


When I called them to ask about this, they offered me a discount for having both our cars insured with them (£61.48) and a “loyalty bonus” (£55.12) which together brought the price down to £707.02 — but that would still have been a 24% hike over last year’s price.

That was exploitative enough that I was prepared to face the hassle of changing insurer. I don’t enjoy this kind of thing at all, so I just used Google’s car insurance comparison site. It was a pain entering all the details of the car, myself, and the named driver, but I suppose it didn’t take more than ten or fifteen minutes. It gave me quotes from ninety-odd insurers, of which I simply picked the cheapest. (I won’t name them, because I’m not out to advertise any individual company.)

The upshot is, I just paid a lump sum of £371.64 for the year. That represents a saving of 59%, or £534, on what I would have paid had I blindly renewed the existing insurance.

So folks, I know it’s tedious, but do make fifteen minutes here and there to look for better deals on things like your car insurance, your electricity supplier (we saved about £300 per year by switching a few months back) and I guess your house insurer. (That one’s next on my own list. It’s currently Direct Line, as it was for the car, but I bet someone else can do it cheaper.) There are non-trivial amounts of money to be saved for very little effort.


I suppose the lesson here is: don’t be greedy. If Direct Line had restrained themselves to ask for only, say, a 5% rise, I would never have questioned it and so I would never have found the much cheaper alternative. It’s only because they made a crazy-ass grab for a 45% hike that I was cracked out of my comfortable apathy.


8 responses to “Seriously: shop around for your car insurance

  1. One thing you can do, having found a quote, is call their retentions line. Chances are good that they’ll match the quote and you don’t even have to move.

  2. I know that can happen, but I don’t honestly believe there was any chance they were going to match a quote that was only 42% of what they’d asked. Plus I don’t want to reward them with my continued custom.

  3. These stories always annoy me, because each year I check the prices of other car insurers and no one will quote me anywhere near my current provider.
    I feel like I’m being cheated somehow, despite already paying the lowest price available!

  4. No need to feel annoyed, you can just pat yourself on the back and feel satisfied that you’ve been doing a good job. This post is really not aimed at diligent people like yourself, but at lazy folks like me who would never normally think to perturb a process that’s basically working.

  5. Pingback: Some insurers just can’t take a hint | The Reinvigorated Programmer

  6. Most insurers will offer a price match because ultimately they don’t want to lose your business. but you should definitely do your upmost to try and find that cheaper deal.

  7. I’m pretty confident First Direct weren’t going to match a price that was 41% of what they’d asked for. And in any case, after the way they behaved, I wasn’t inclined to give them any of my money.

  8. Pingback: Another rip-off merchant: Chaucer Direct | The Reinvigorated Programmer

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