4 tips to pick the best car insurance provider

If you own and drive a vehicle, then car insurance is a must, but you can spend a long time trying to decide which provider is the best for you before you commit. Although it is a huge factor, the price is not the only thing that you need to take into account when finding the right insurance cover to protect you. 

The general rule of thumb is to compare at least three quotes from different companies and here are a few industry-wide factors that you should take into consideration and apply to each.

1.     What features are they offering?

As well as third-party, fire and theft or comprehensive cover, car insurance policies will offer additional features, some of which are necessary and some which could be deemed useless. Certain ‘must have’ features of every policy should include windscreen cover, cover for loss or damage of your personal belongings, cover for loss or theft of car keys, car rescue cover, a courtesy car, protected no claims discount and guaranteed repairs. 

By understanding the features that will come with a policy, you’ll also be aware of add-ons that you know you might not need such as cover when you’re driving abroad. You can easily assess the differences between car insurance policies with a comparison website such as Call Wiser. By comparing the options that are available to you first-hand, you’ll be able to match a policy to your particular needs from a panel of 30+ of the UK’s best insurers.  

2.     How long will it take to settle a claim?

Before you commit to an insurance provider, you’ll want to know how long it will take them to settle a claim if anything were to happen on the road. If you have filed an insurance claim to cover the cost of damage to your vehicle, property or injury, you will need to negotiate a settlement until you get the payout you believe you deserve. Before you do this, you need to know exactly what your car insurance policy covers, what your claim is worth, your acceptable settlement range and when to seek legal advice. The length of time varies depending on each case, but you want to make sure you choose a car insurance company that will assist you through the process until you’re 100% satisfied. 

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) states that car insurance companies should settle claims within three months, but this can be delayed if neither side admits liability or if the claim is not fully quantified. Negotiating a car insurance settlement can be a long and frustrating process, but a reputable car insurance provider should work closely alongside you to get everything sorted in an acceptable period. While researching the reputation of car insurance providers, try to find out how long they have taken in the past to settle claims with other policyholders. You don’t want to commit to a company that is known for bad customer service when it comes to something as important as making a claim.

3.     Are they offering a discount?

If your yearly renewal date is fast approaching, try to haggle and negotiate with your current provider. More often than not, this can save you more money than if you were to switch. Try to negotiate a price for less than 20% of what you already pay, and if you succeed, it’s definitely worthwhile staying put. If not, it’s probably cheaper to find a deal with a different company. Some companies offer discounts for drivers of certain ages or drivers who have anti-theft devices installed. Others may offer lower premiums for drivers that have consistently good records and no claims. 

Another thing to watch out for is multi-line coverage which can allow for a discount when purchasing two or more lines of coverage (car and home, for example) with the same provider. If you’re looking to add a young driver to your policy, a rise in prices is often unavoidable but if you feel the amount you’re paying, whether monthly or yearly, has become too high, discuss options with your provider on how you could decrease it with things such as additional driving courses. Many companies decrease their prices depending on certain life events, such as moving, getting older,getting married or purchasing a new home. So whenever something major in your life changes, it’s probably worth evaluating your insurance policy.

4.     How is their reputation?

Once you’ve found a few companies that you think will suit your needs, do some investigative work to find out about their reputation and financial standing. Have a look at ratings such as those regarding customer satisfaction and those that consider financial strength. These will give you an idea about the overall experience and whether or not the company is good value for money. There is nothing stopping you from reaching out to companies yourself to find out how they respond to questions about important issues such as discounts. 

Check out online surveys such as those done by Auto Express, who ask a huge amount of drivers to rate their insurance company in five key areas: communication, how long it takes them to settle a claim, value for money, helpfulness and overall service. Regarding figuring out which company has the best reputation, there are pros and cons when it comes to using comparison sites to do so. 

There has been a huge rise in the amount of people using this type of site to find the cheapest deal, believing it to be the best. This is not always the case. The competitive element of comparison sites has caused providers to create cheap car insurance cover at the most basic level. By keeping prices down, these companies remain at the top of the list, but this is often at the expense of the customer who will be left out of pocket in the long-run. 

Remember that just because a car insurance company is cheap, it doesn’t mean it is the best. Be very aware of surprise extra fees that companies can often claim are ‘admin charges’. Also, certain providers don’t feature on comparison sites. These include Zurich Car Insurance, Aviva and Direct Line who must be contacted directly for a quote.

There you have it, consider these factors whether it’s time to switch insurer or if you’re a new driver looking for a good deal. By keeping these things in mind, you should choose an insurance company that not only has good value for money, but will give you the support you need if you ever need to make a claim. Remember not to just look for the best price when you’re shopping around, companies such as Fairer Finance will review companies to find the highest ranking, reflecting the providers who will pride themselves on being the best value in the long run.