How picking the right time to apply could halve the cost of your car insurance premium

A happy man on his phone with winning gesture

Motorists can halve the amount they pay for car insurance simply by changing when they get a quote.

That’s according to founder Martin Lewis, who has claimed on his ITV show that the best time to get a quote and buy car insurance is around 21 days before your renewal is due.

An investigation carried out by MoneySavingExpert of 50 million quotes found that the sweet spot to compare prices is between three and four weeks before the renewal date. The closer you get to your renewal date, the more prices will go up as car insurance companies think you may be a higher risk driver. On average, drivers who wait until the last minute to get quotes pay around £546 more than those who get quotes three to four weeks earlier!

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Martin Lewis said: “This is not about your renewal price, it's about the cheapest price you'll get on a comparison website on the days before you renew. If you try and get a quote 30 days before, the price is pretty high, then it drops pretty rapidly - the sweet spot is around 21 days but anything around three or four weeks [in advance is worth trying]. Then it goes up and up until we're talking about renewing at the last moment, which is nearly twice the cost.

“There is a reason. Insurance pricing is based on risk. And if you are the type of person who leaves it till the last minute, their risk charts show you're a more risky person so they'll charge you more. So play their risk odds against them and renew earlier in that sweet spot of three to four weeks.”

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Other tips to help you save money on your car insurance renewal

As well as choosing the right time to compare quotes online, there are other steps you can take to make sure you get the best value for money on your car insurance renewal.

1. Don’t auto-renew without shopping around

Recent research has shown a dramatic increase of drivers auto-renewing their car insurance with their current provider, rather than shopping around to find the best price.

This means that many drivers pay a ‘loyalty tax’ to their current insurer simply by allowing their policy to auto-renew, which can cost them almost £300 extra in premiums.

It is always strongly recommended that drivers shop around for car insurance each year, as many insurers offer cheaper prices as an incentive to get new customers to join – meaning you can buy identical cover for much less if you switch.

Read more: What are the best car insurance comparison sites?

2. Don’t just rely on comparison sites

Although it’s a good idea to start your search using comparison sites, you may be able to find a better deal with car insurance companies that are not on comparison sites.

Insurers such as Direct Line and Aviva don’t appear on comparison sites and often offer attractive incentives to new customers – which can include extra cover options like protected No-Claims Bonus and uninsured driver cover as well as cheaper premiums.

Read more: The best car insurance companies not on comparison sites

3. Don’t assume third party cover is cheaper than comprehensive

It’s natural to assume that, being the ‘lesser’ cover, third party, fire and theft cover would be cheaper than getting comprehensive car insurance. However, this is not always the case and many drivers who opt for third party cover could actually get comprehensive cover for roughly the same price, if not lower.

This is because some insurers will see the fact that you are looking for comprehensive insurance and view you to be a more ‘responsible’ driver and therefore a lower risk. In a lot of cases, this can outweigh the fact that you are getting more coverage and can actually make the policy cheaper. Also, drivers who purchase third-party insurance policies statistically make more claims than those with fully comp cover.

You must bear in mind that car insurance premiums are based on a wide range of factors, so this won’t work for everyone – but it does mean that you should never just get quotes for third party cover when it’s time for renewal.

For more advice, read our guide: 10 tips and tricks for cutting the cost of car insurance

The only way to know how much you could be saving on your car insurance premiums is to compare quotes online around 21 days before your renewal date. If you find a cheaper deal online, let your current insurer know and see if they offer to match or beat that price. If they won't, you should definitely switch! Get started now or read our guides for further information:

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