Why is my car insurance premium so high?
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Why car insurance is expensive

If the cost of your car insurance is high, it's because you're considered a "high-risk" driver. There can be lots of reasons for this, including your age, job title, postcode and the vehicle you drive.

The price of car insurance also goes up because of things like fraud, uninsured drivers and the number of middlemen involved when you buy an insurance policy.

Why car insurance is expensive

Let's look at each reason in more detail.

Your age

Your age can make a big difference to your price.

Young drivers pay more for car insurance than older, more experienced drivers. This is because they're more likely to crash.

Under-25s tend to pay a lot. And then the cost gradually gets lower as you get older.

But there are ways for young drivers to get cheaper car insurance. They can:

Your vehicle

The car you drive can make your insurance premiums higher. Faster or more expensive cars tend to cost more. High-performance cars with big engines tend to cost more. Cars with lots of safety features tend to cost less.

(You can get all your car's technical details with our free car checker.

Cars are categorised within different groups for insurance purposes. Depending on what group your car falls into, you could see a big jump in your insurance premiums.

You can check your car's insurance group for free.

The age of your car doesn't directly affect your price, but it does go hand-in-hand with a lot of the things that do directly affect it.

Newer cars tend to have more safety features, for example, but they're also usually more expensive to repair.

You'll also usually pay more if your car is modified. The definition of "modifications" can be pretty vague, so it's always worth checking with your insurer before you make any major changes to your car. Even changing the colour of your car can count as a modification.

Mileage

Most insurance companies will look at mileage, too. Generally, the higher your annual mileage, the more you'll pay.

Write-offs

If you make a claim on your car and your insurance company doesn't think it's worth repairing, they can "write it off".

Write-offs are much riskier to insure. So if you buy a second-hand car that was once written off and has been repaired, you'll probably pay a lot more for your insurance.

Imported cars

Imported cars also tend to be more expensive to get insured - if you can get them insured at all.

It's because imported cars are often higher spec than ones bought in the UK. Plus, they don't fit into an insurance group.

Electric cars and hybrids

Electric cars and hybrids also tend to be more expensive to insure. That's because they use a load of technology that's really expensive to replace if your car gets damaged and you need to make a claim.

There's also a lot less data about how many claims people make for electric cars, so insurance companies tend to play it safe and bump up the price.

Some insurance companies don't cover electric or hybrid cars at all. So before you go ahead and buy an electric car, make sure you check that you can transfer your insurance.

Modifications

If you modify your car, your insurer might bump up the price of your insurance.

The definition of a "modification" is pretty broad, so it's worth checking with your insurance company beforehand.

And bear in mind that some insurers don't cover modified cars at all. If you get your car modified without telling them, they might cancel your insurance if you need to make a claim. 🚫

Your monthly payments

Paying for car insurance monthly rather than annually can be a lot more expensive.

That's because you're not actually buying a month's worth of car insurance at a time.

Instead, think of it like getting a full year of car insurance - but on credit. That means the monthly payments you make are more like repayments on a loan.

And, like most loan repayments, they come with interest - and often credit checks.

(We don't think that's very fair. That's why we're building a new kind of pay-monthly car insurance. There's no deposit, no interest, and you can cancel any time - without the fees!)

Your driving history

Your driving history could be another reason your car insurance is so high. Having a bunch of incidents and claims on your history makes you a lot riskier to insure, so your price might get bumped up.

Points on your licence can be another factor. Sometimes you'll get a bit extra added to your insurance premium if you have points for speeding.

You normally have to tell your insurer about any claims or accidents you've had in the last five years.

Your job title

Some jobs are "riskier" to insure than others, so drivers in certain professions get higher premiums.

This has nothing to do with driving for work, because most car insurance policies don't cover driving for business purposes.

It's all about the historical data insurers have about how people in those professions drive.

If your car insurance price is particularly high, you might be able to cut a bit off your insurance premium by carefully choosing how you describe your occupation. But there's a big difference between this and lying about your job, which would make your policy invalid.

Your excess

Excess is the amount of money you have to pay when you make a claim. There are two kinds of excess: "mandatory" (or "compulsory") and "voluntary".

Mandatory excess is set by your insurer, and you can't change it. It's usually worked out based on a lot of different pieces of information.

But voluntary excess is adjustable. And the higher you set it, the lower you premium will be.

So if you have a voluntary excess on your car insurance, bumping up the amount you agree to pay could make your car insurance less expensive. Just make sure you choose an amount you can actually afford to pay, if you do have to make a claim.

Where you live

Even your postcode can bump up the price of your insurance. This is because most accidents happen within five miles of the driver's home. So drivers who live in areas where lots of accidents happen are likely to get higher car insurance premiums.

Insurers look pretty carefully at driving stats in your location when you apply for insurance. They'll consider how many:

  • Crashes and thefts take place
  • Uninsured drivers live there
  • Fraudulent claims are made

At Cuvva, we use a few bits of location data to figure out your price. That includes:

  • The postcode your driving licence is registered to
  • Your residential postcode
  • Your actual location when you start the policy

Sadly, the only solution to this one is moving 😬. If that inner-city London postcode is taking its toll on your premiums, there's always the Isle of Barra. People who live there get a great deal from insurers.

The external things

There are lots of boring, external industry reasons that car insurance is expensive, too.

The number of people involved pushes up the cost of car insurance

When you buy car insurance, there are a lot of parties involved. The chain usually looks something like:

customer → price comparison website → software house → insurance broker → underwriter

It's a long process. And at each stage, someone gets paid. This makes car insurance more expensive.

We've simplified things a bit. It goes:

customer → Cuvva → underwriter

Much tidier.

Fraud makes insurance more expensive for everyone (~£90)

Insurance fraud is a big problem, especially in the world of temporary car insurance.

Whiplash alone costs insurers £2bn per year. Many of these claims are fraudulent, but whiplash is almost impossible to disprove, so insurers usually pay out.

This drives up the price of insurance for everyone. It's thought that whiplash claims alone add about £90 a year to the average insurance policy (according to the ABI).

In early 2018, the law was changed to stop fraudulent whiplash claims. It knocked about £35 off the cost of insurance premiums.

(We're always doing our best to tackle insurance fraud. That's why we ask for pictures of you and your vehicle when you sign up. We're not being nosy.)

Crashes with uninsured drivers (~£30)

Many people get behind the wheel without car insurance. And that makes insurance more expensive for everyone else.

When an insured driver has a crash with an uninsured driver, someone has to pay out. And that someone is the underwriter of the insured driver.

Because of this, premiums get higher for everyone.

It's thought that uninsured drivers add £30 to the average insurance policy.

Why your car insurance premium suddenly went up

Sometimes it seems like your car insurance has gone up for no reason. Here's why that happens.

Rising insurance premium tax (IPT)

When you buy car insurance, you pay Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) rather than VAT. Like VAT, IPT is set by the government.

IPT is getting higher and higher. In 2011, it was 6%. And in 2017 and 2018, it was 12%.

For some kinds of insurance - like travel insurance - IPT is even higher, at 20%.

In time, IPT will probably line up with VAT. But we're not quite there yet.

The Ogden discount rate

The Ogden discount rate helps insurers work out how much compensation they have to pay for life-changing injuries.

In 2017, the rate changed from 2.5% to -0.75%, meaning insurers have to pay out much more. But in 2019, it went back to up to -0.25%.

Lower Ogden discount rates make car insurance premiums higher for everyone.

Misleading temporary discount rates

Some insurers offer very low premiums just to get customers through the door. Then they bump up the cost next year and hope you won't notice.

This means your car insurance premium will jump up occasionally anyway, even without all the other things we've listed.

Updated on 5th February 2021

Cuvva is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. (#690273)