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Cheap Car Insurance

Cheapest from our research: £230.75 (comprehensive)

Car insurance is one of those bills that we don't need to be paying over the odds for ... but often end up doing so anyway. This guide explains how to get the cheapest car insurance and make sure that you don't accept that annual renewal quote. And if you act on just one piece of our advice, it would be to check for better deals every single year - don't fall into the trap of auto renewing, even if it feels like a hassle to do otherwise - that's when car insurers start to ramp up your premiums.

Looking to save on car insurance?

Follow our 10-step guide to increase your chances of cutting premiums.

1The HonestJohn.co.uk Ten Step Plan To Saving Money On Car Insurance

We all worry about the rising cost of car insurance, but with a little help, you'll discover there are plenty of simple ways to make huge savings on your car insurance.

That's why we have scoured the industry to find the best money saving deals. Check our top 10 to see how you could save hundreds off your next car insurance renewal. 

2Never accept an auto-renew quote

The first rule to saving money on car insurance is to never accept the auto-renewal quote. On the face of it, the insurer will look like they’re doing you a favour by automatically renewing your policy, but stop and think – who is this really benefitting? 

In our experience, auto-renew quotes are much more expensive and include a fee for the privilege. Don’t get sucked in. Instead, add your insurance renewal date to your diary and tell your insurer in advance that you will not be automatically renewing the policy. You can always approach your insurer later with the lowest quote you’ve found and ask them to match it.

3Make your job work for you

As well as checking each car insurance company to get you the best deal and getting cashback, you could have something else which works in your favour - your job.

Some of the best occupations for insurance costs include educators such as college professors and school teachers, who may be eligible for a discount with many car insurance companies. Scientists, engineers and military service personal qualify for the privilege of reduced insurance too, along with doctors, nurses, surgeons and other medical professionals.

4Use a cashback website

Once you have found your cheapest car insurance quote you can get even more back by buying it through a cashback site. If you register with somewhere like Top Cashback, which is free, it will return some of the cost of the insurance directly back to your account.

It’s completely free to register for cashback and the retailer will pay the website for commission on your purchase.

5Haggle

It's all well and good trawling the web and checking the latest prices online, but it'll help you a lot further if you pick up the phone and give the companies with the cheapest quotes a ring - you might well be able to haggle a discount, or get a better policy altogether. 

Be upfront about your mileage and where the car will be parked, but don’t accept their first offer. Instead, challenge their quote with other prices you’ve found. 

6Don't make any modifications to your car

Many insurers will refuse to cover a modified or enhanced car. Those that do will charge a lot more for the privilege – in some cases more than the car’s worth - so be realistic about what you can afford. Don't fall into the trap of over spending, you’ll need cash to run and maintain the vehicle too. 

7Use a broker

It can sometimes work to your advantage to have a middle man - a broker. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (www.biba.org.uk) is yet another comparison site - but one with a difference. Instead of compiling prices from insurers, they find the nearest brokers to you in order to get the cheapest quote they can.

 

8Add a second driver

Some insurers will offer discounts if you add a low-risk driver to the policy like a parent or older relative. Do not add a younger driver – it will push the prices up – and do not give the impression that the second driver will be the main user of the vehicle - it's illegal.

 

9Beat the prices with a black box

Black boxes can save you money. It might be a little bit off-putting initially to think that you’re being monitored while driving but if you are confident then a black box might be the answer to your money-saving prayers.

A little tracking gadget is fitted to the vehicle in order to pick up information - not only the big things such as the amount of miles you cover, what time of day the car is being driven, your location and your driving style - but also the more minute aspects of your driving. For example, it will register how rapidly or smoothly you accelerate, brake and take corners.

10Be honest

While all the above tips will help you to save cash on your insurance, it is best to start off on a good footing by being totally honest about yourself and the car you will be driving. Do not tell the insurer that your car will be stored on your parents’ leafy driveway, if in reality it will be outside your flat in a city centre. Likewise, be upfront about your mileage and tell them if any modifications have been made to the car. 

Insurers base their quotation on what you tell them and reserve the right to cancel your policy or refuse a claim if you have given false information. What’s more, a cancelled policy may put you in a higher risk category and result in years of higher premiums. 

 

What should you know about car insurance?

Whether this is the first time that you're taking out car insurance or have been doing it for years, you can never have too much information or insider knowledge. Below are details of insurance groups, what you should know about cover and how car insurance works.

1Car Insurance Groups explained

The insurance group tool enables you to find and compare car insurance groups for all popular models on sale in the UK. Simply pick a make and model below to see which insurance group your car is in.

2Search Car Insurance Groups

This tool enables you to find and compare car insurance groups for all popular models on sale in the UK. To get started simply pick a manufacturer from the list below. 

Please note that insurance group ratings are purely advisory. They are used by many motor insurers as just one of the many input factors in calculating premiums. As such, insurance groups can provide a useful indicator of the likely relative cost of insuring a particular vehicle. Insurers are not required to follow the advisory group ratings and the full cost of insurance will depend entirely on the age and status of the policy holder.

3What is an insurance excess?

Excess is the first part of the claim you have agreed to pay. This should only be applied to claims on your own vehicles and not claims against you. These come under the following titles.

Statutory or Compulsory Excess

This is the lowest excess on your policy you can pay. It forms the basis of how the insurer underwrites the policy so the higher this excess, the higher the risk they attach to it.

Voluntary Excess

This is the amount you have volunteered to pay in addition to the compulsory excess, so the two are added together.

The higher the voluntary excess, the lower the premium will be. Make sure you can afford to pay it in the event of an accident.

Young Driver Excess

If you are a young driver (someone under 25) you may well find this excess applied. This also is added to the Compulsory Excess. Check the policy, as your insurer may advise they add all three together.

In addition, there are products available you can use to 'insure' your excess, that way you do not have to pay it if you have an accident. You can also get a lower premium by having a higher excess, saving many hundreds of pounds, so it makes sense to insure it.

 

Insurance Costs: What difference does age and postcode make?

Our regular round-up of insurance quotes shows the effect that age and postcode has on a policy. It's designed to highlight trends in the market and give you a steer as to whom may be offering decent deals. We've kept the car the same throuhgout, but changed a few other variables to reflect what we'd expect from each of the age brackets - i.e being single or married and the type of work they may be doing.

What did we find?

Of course this only applies to the quotes we have conducted and this may not apply to your own circumstances, but we found that Hastings Direct (and variants such as their Black Box scheme and slimmed-down Hastings Essential) were regularly coming up among the cheapest.

18 year olds continue to get a raw deal, even with the introduction of black box schemes. In fact, owners in this age bracket are actively being forced into these schemes - standard insurance policies are now significantly more expensive than their back box counterparts.

In our basket of insurers, Tesco and Sainsbury's - two household names - were incredibly uncompetitive and were not once a best buy. All of Sainsbury's quotes for our 18 year-old were in excess of the value of the car and Sainsbury's was the most expensive quote of all: an eye watering £13,498 for a city centre postcode.

At the other end of the age brackets, there's very little difference in policy cost between the 55 and 65 year olds, with some insurers quoting identical amounts. Black boxes start to make a reappearance as best buys in these brackets, too, and are much cheaper than standard policies.

Car insurance: What can an 18 year old expect to pay?

Assumptions: Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre Titanium manual, worth £8,000, single, licence held for one year, student and no convictions or accidents. Looking for comprehensive insurance with £250 excess.

 

 Sainsbury's

More Than

Churchill

 Admiral

 Tesco

Rural postcode  £8750.29  £1871 (Black Box)  £5500  £2070.88  £2144 (Black Box) 
Town postcode  £9835  £2308 (Black Box)  £5531  £2007.04 (Black Box)  £2890 (Black Box)
City postcode  £13,498  £3822.99 (Black Box)  Did Not Quote  £4695.04 (Black Box)  £2539.73 (Black Box)

Cheapest car insurance for an 18 year old in a rural postcode we found: Hastings Direct (Black Box policy) £1106.40; Wise Driving (Black Box policy) £1370.

Cheapest car insurance for an 18 year old in a town postcode we found: Hastings Direct (Black Box policy) £1097.77; Wise Driving (Black Box policy) £1656.

Cheapest car insurance for an 18 year old in a city postcode we found: Hastings Direct (Black Box policy) £1723.23; Wise Driving (Black Box policy) £2381.57

 

Car insurance: What can a 25 year old expect to pay?

Assumptions: Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre Titanium manual, worth £8,000, single, licence held for six years, employed full time in administration in Civil Service, no convictions or accidents. Looking for comprehensive insurance with £250 excess. Full NCB.

 

 Sainsbury's

More Than

Churchill

 Admiral

 Tesco

Rural postcode  £3026  £701.85  £748.16  £795.20 (Black Box policy)  £1486 (Black Box policy) 
Town postcode  £3484  £804.54  £763.84  £748.16 (Black Box policy) £1466 (Black Box policy)
City postcode  £5010  £1514  £1422  £851.20 (Black Box policy)  £1804 (Black Box policy)

Cheapest car insurance for an 25 year old in a rural postcode we found: Hastings Direct (Black Box policy) £500.96

Cheapest car insurance for an 25 year old in a town postcode we found: Hastings Direct (Black Box policy) £496.16

Cheapest car insurance for an 25 year old in a city postcode we found: Bell, £758

 

Car insurance: What can a 35 year old expect to pay?

Assumptions: Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre Titanium manual, worth £8,000, married, licence held for 15 years, employed full time in a managerial role in the Civil Service, no convictions or accidents. Looking for comprehensive insurance with £250 excess. Full NCB.

 

 Sainsbury's

More Than

Churchill

 Admiral

 Tesco

Rural postcode  £1995.89  £550.08  £540.96  £838.88  £2022.25
Town postcode  £2298.07  £560.99  £564.88  £713.44 (black box policy £2327.15
City postcode  £3302.36  £1017.64  £1099.84  £796.32  £3237.36

Cheapest car insurance for an 35 year old in a rural postcode we found: Esure, £358

Cheapest car insurance for an 35 year old in a town postcode we found: Esure, £437

Cheapest car insurance for an 35 year old in a city postcode we found: Bell, £632.41

 

Car insurance: What can a 45 year old expect to pay?

Assumptions: Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre Titanium manual, worth £8,000, married, licence held for 15 years, employed full time in a managerial role in the Civil Service, no convictions or accidents. Looking for comprehensive insurance with £250 excess. Full NCB.

 

 Sainsbury's

More Than

Churchill

 Admiral

 Tesco

Rural postcode  £1641.02  £460.51  £446.88  £909.44  £1664.72
Town postcode £1888.35  £524.01  £461.44  £823.20 £1914.24
City postcode  £2713.15  £888.65  £908.32  £981.12  £2740.50

Cheapest car insurance for an 45 year old in a rural postcode we found: Esure, £324

Cheapest car insurance for an 45 year old in a town postcode we found: Esure, £390

Cheapest car insurance for an 45 year old in a city postcode we found: Hastings Essential, £524.46

 

Car insurance: What can a 55 year old expect to pay?

Assumptions: Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre Titanium manual, worth £8,000, married, licence held for 15 years, employed full time in a managerial role in the Civil Service, no convictions or accidents. Looking for comprehensive insurance with £250 excess. Full NCB.

 

 Sainsbury's

More Than

Churchill

 Admiral

 Tesco

Rural postcode  £1435.62 £443.76  £415.52  £882.57  £1458.25
Town postcode  £1651.77  £443.72  £430.08  £872.48 £1676.66
City postcode  £2373.35  £845.60  £847.84  £833.28  £2330.71

Cheapest car insurance for an 55 year old in a rural postcode we found:  Hastings Direct (Black Box Policy), 230.75

Cheapest car insurance for an 55 year old in a town postcode we found: Hastings Direct (Black Box Policy), 230.75

Cheapest car insurance for an 55 year old in a city postcode we found: Hastings Direct (Black Box Policy), £288.48

 

Car insurance: What can a 65 year old expect to pay?

Assumptions: Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre Titanium manual, worth £8,000, married, licence held for 15 years, employed full time in a managerial role in the Civil Service, no convictions or accidents. Looking for comprehensive insurance with £250 excess. Full NCB.

 

 Sainsbury's

More Than

Churchill

 Admiral

 Tesco

Rural postcode  £1449.59 £525.33  £480.48  £874.72  £1473.85
Town postcode  £1668.93  £473.50  £491.68  £885.93 £1693.44
City postcode  £2397  £978.21  £968.80  £953.12  £2442

Cheapest car insurance for an 65 year old in a rural postcode we found:  Hastings Direct (Black Box Policy), 230.75; LV offering a standard policy for £267.20

Cheapest car insurance for an 65 year old in a town postcode we found: Hastings Direct (Black Box Policy), 230.75

Cheapest car insurance for an 65 year old in a city postcode we found: Hastings Direct (Black Box Policy), £282.11

Ask Honest John: Car Insurance

Tim Kelly, our in-house insurance expert, answers your car insurance queries and conundrums

Ask HJ

Insurance asked us to choose a bodyshop for repair work - how do we go about this?

My wife's 2014 Vauxhall Corsa was reversed into whilst parked at work. The third party has accepted responsibility and we've been in contact with their insurance company, who have asked us to supply two quotes. My wife's work will supply a courtesy car. We're concerned that if we choose the body shop, the third party's insurance company may lay the responsibility at our door in the event of any future issues. We're also concerned because we don;t know how to identify a good versus a bad body shop and whether the manufacturer will honour any body and paint warranties for the repaired area or indeed any of the body work. Are we being too pessimistic?
Advise the insurance company that you will not be providing two estimates and that the vehicle will be repaired at your choice of repairer. The at fault insurer are obliged to provide and alternative vehicle or to cover the cost of hiring one. It is your vehicle, it is your lawful entitlement to choose how it is repaired and who repairs it. As long as the vehicle is repaired to the manufacturer's standards using the manufacturers methods, parts and paint and materials, under block exemption the manufacturer is not allowed to void the warranty. The best way of ascertaining whether the bodyshop is any good is by looking at their online reviews. I would also suggest if they hold the Kitemark for British Standards BS10125 they should be a very good repairer, though there are bodyshops without this that are as good or better. It may also assist you to contact the National Bodyshop Repair association who can recommend a manufacturer approved repairer in your area. You can contact them here: http://nbra.org.uk/
Answered by Tim Kelly
More Questions
Ask HJ

My car was damaged when at the garage - do I need to inform my insurer?

While my car was being serviced by a local garage a learner driver ran into the side of the car - the garage was test driving it at the time. The third party has acknowledge responsibility and the garage insurance is dealing with the repairs . Do I need to inform my insurers as they are not involved?
A very good question. Technically yes and technically no. As you were not 'in charge' of your vehicle at the time - and the vehicle was covered under a different policy of insurance (the garages), then that is your technically no answer. The insurer will advise otherwise. What I would do is contact your insurer and ask the question. Unfortunately every claim handler you speak to will not know the answer and would have to refer to the default 'yes you must make us aware of any incident you have been involved in.' What would I do? Well it would be unfair of your insurer to penalise you in any way as result of an incident which was not your fault, and you were in no way connected. If I was asked the next year had I had any accidents or claims, my answer would be no. As it was the repairers claim not yours. They were acting as a bailee.
Answered by Tim Kelly
More Questions

 

Putting things right

What happens if you have an accident, want to claim on your car insurance or have a problem to resolve?

1How can I send my complaint about car insurance to Honest John?

Use Ask Honest John to send your message (registration required)

2What do you do in the event of an accident?

The first thing to do after an accident is make sure everyone is alright. Your safety is paramount. Check everyone in your vehicle to make sure they are okay and if any one is hurt, ring the emergency services immediately.

If safe to do so, get yourself to a place of safety. If you are on a motorway or dual carriageway, get out of your car and either get behind the barriers or up the embankment. If your vehicle is in a dangerous position, or if there is any debris in the road, ring the emergency services.

What if someone is injured?

If you are hurt and think you have back or neck injuries the emergency services suggest that you do not get out of your car. However if the car is in a dangerous situation you may need to reconsider leaving the vehicle.

If you do have back and neck injuries, it is advised you stay in the vehicle. But please note if the emergency services believe you have injuries, they will cut the roof off your car to safely remove you. They are not liable for this, so you do need to consider whether you have injuries or not.

If everyone is okay, and it is safe to do so, see if the other driver is alright. Obviously contact the emergency services if they are not.

Do not admit liability or say it was your fault.  Also request their insurance details

If you have a warning triangle, place it at least 45 metres down the road to warn other road users, protect yourself. If possible keep your side light on if visibility is dark or poor

If possible, photograph your vehicle and whatever has collided with you. Take as many photos as possible with the vehicles in situ. Do not move the vehicles if you can avoid it. Take some from close up, show what part of their vehicle has contacted your vehicle and photograph both.

Also stand back to give a perspective of road layout and distance relative to both vehicles. This way insurers can see exactly what part of each vehicle has hit each other. This is very very important and greatly aids your insurer to work out what has gone on.

>> What to do if you have an accident abroad

What about liability?

Do not admit liability or say it was your fault. Also request their insurance details. Obtain the other parties details, get their name, address, phone number, vehicle registration. Make a note of how many occupants are in their vehicle, also note the make,model and colour of the vehicle.

For peace of mind, (politely) ask for proof of identity, so you know the information is not false.

You are entitled to do this as a refusal to give insurance information is a criminal offence under Section 154 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. So if they refuse at the scene, ring the police.

Look for any witnesses and get their details. Also look to see if any cameras are around.

If possible photograph the driver and occupants - there is no law against this. If you feel comfortable doing this, it is up to you, but it can be of massive benefit in stopping fraudulent claims against you.

Insurers often find that the people who object the most have something to hide. If someone in any way gets aggressive toward you, ring the police and advise them you have had an accident and feel intimidated by the other party. They will attend.

If the other party leaves the scene without stopping, contact the police immediately.

3What are my rights in an accident that is not my fault?

When you have an accident that is not your fault, you have the right to claim your losses back from the at fault party.

This is covered under tort law. When you have a tort made against you, it means that your are the injured party. This does not necessarily mean you have personal injuries, it means you have suffered a financial loss as a result of the at fault parties negligence.

All claims, whether under a tort or whether claiming directly through your insurance company, are about claiming for a pecunary loss. This is claiming for the financial loss you have incurred that will bring you restitution. In other words, the amount of money it will take to put you back in the situation you were in prior to the loss occurring.

With a claim that is not your fault, the case law that applies is the Coles v Hetherton case.

Can I claim for loss of use of my vehicle?

When you have an accident that is not your fault, you have the entitlement to be put back into the same situation you were in prior to your loss.

Because you have now been deprived of the use of your vehicle, you have the lawful entitlement to arrange for another vehicle or alternative transport to use while being deprived of yours.

This area of claim, is covered under uninsured losses. These are areas of a claim that are not covered under a contract of insurance that you may have in place. This means you can claim for any legitimate loss you have sustained as a result of the accident.

So you can claim for taxis, bus fares or any alternative transport that you have had to pay for plus any out of pocket expenses. The main area claimed is for the direct loss of use of your vehicle.

You are entitled to hire a vehicle and claim this back from the at fault insurer. The cost of hire must be 'reasonable' though, so in line with the market place. Most people cannot afford to hire a vehicle out of their own pocket and this is where credit hire makes an appearance.

Credit hire is where a company will provide a vehicle of the same level (engine size, number of doors, status) as the one you have.

Should the claims management or credit hire provider decide your car is a total loss, they may apply a lot of pressure on to you to agree the market value on your vehicle.

They will provide this vehicle 'on credit' to you. This does not mean there is no charge and this does not mean they will get the cost of hire provided to you from the at fault party. Instead, this is like you hiring a car and paying for it on your credit card. You are wholly 100 percent liable for the cost of the vehicle.

These companies may advise you that it is at 'no cost' to you, but this is not true. There are certain criteria that must be fulfilled for you to be successful to claim. One of which is you must be 'impecunious' or the term used is you are suffering from impecuniosity. This means you do not have the funds to go and hire a car at your own expense.

To successfully claim for a credit hire vehicle, you may be asked to attend court and provide your bank statements to prove you could not afford to hire one yourself. Another criteria is the length of claim. The courts see it as being reasonable to act in a way to mitigate loss, in other words incur more loss than would have been necessary. This is a good and a bad thing.

Some credit hire companies that are not regulated work with insurance companies on a pre-agreed terms. This called the ABI GTA

What is the ABI GTA?

The ABI GTA is the Association of British Insurers General Terms of Agreement. This is an agreement between insurers that credit hire companies can join on a tier two agreement. Insurers are tier one, claims management and credit hire companies are tier two.

This agreement was originally put in place to control the cost of credit hire between insurers.mThis on the one hand was successful, on the other it acted in conflict to a consumers lawful entitlement (see Coles v Hetherton).

Credit hire companies could also join this agreement. Insurers agreed to pay these credit hire companies at pre-agreed rates dependent on the class of vehicle and pay them within 60 days.
This is fabulous for credit hire companies, as they do not have to fight on your behalf in court to get paid and it aids their cashflow.

This is not always good for you. Should the claims management or credit hire provider decide your car is a total loss, they may apply a lot of pressure on to you to agree the market value on your vehicle. This may not be in your interest, as your vehicle may be worth more than is being offered.

Only when settlement has been agreed - and when you have been provided the correct sum of monies that will enable you to replace your vehicle - should the credit hire vehicle be taken from you.

This does not mean you can hold on to the credit hire vehicle for as long as you wish, but it also does not mean they can take the car away from you the next day or a few days later. You may have the funds to but the vehicle, but a reasonable amount of time must be given for you to buy one.

Another criteria is the class of vehicle. Cars are generally graded on engine size, amount of doors, and size of vehicle.

Should you be provided with a Range Rover, when you were driving a Nissan Micra, then your claim would be unsuccessful. You cannot claim for that to which you are not entitled.

Due to this, you do need to be careful on the vehicle being offered. You may find the at fault insurer contacts you directly to provide a vehicle for you. This can be a good and a bad thing.

4What's the difference between a Cat C and Cat D write off?

Contrary to what you may have been told, a total loss is nothing to do with the damage to your vehicle. Technically there is very little that cannot be repaired.

So what is a total loss?

A total loss, is where the cost to repair the vehicle exceeds the market value. That is the correct point the vehicle is a total loss, as it is no longer economical to repair.

A vehicle is not a total loss when the repair cost are less than the market value. Your contract of insurance will (or should) say: "we indemnify you up to the market value of your vehicle." You are completely in your rights to insist on having your car repaired up to the market value as stated in your contract of insurance.

Should your insurer not do this, they are in breach of contract. The only time a vehicle can be dealt with as a total loss when the repair cost are less than the market value, is when it is done with your consent.

This is called a 'constructive total loss' and is when you have consented to the insurer to take ownership of your vehicle and they will obtain a sum of money for the salvage of it

This allow's the insurer to limit their liability to less than the market value. This type of total loss is known as a Category D total loss. If the repair costs are less than the market value - and you want your car repairing - do not let your insurer tell you otherwise. And they will.

The current ABI code of practice for disposal of salvage is as follows: 

Category A

Your car is a completely burned out, i.e. it has been set on fire or has caught fire, when only the shell is left and clearly cannot be repaired. This is called a Category A total loss with no retrievable parts.

Category B

Your vehicle has suffered structural damage and the repair cost exceed the market value, or the vehicle has suffered flood damage and was immersed in effluent or contaminated water. Just because your car has flood damage, does not mean it has to be a Category B total loss. Category A and B cannot go back on the road.

Category C

The estimated repair cost to your vehicle are more than the market value of your car.

Category D

This is what the insurance companies call a constructive total loss. This means the insurer is deciding not to repair your car, as when the insurer has looked at the repair cost - and the amount of money the insurer will receive when they sell the salvage - it is more than the value of the vehicle. You can, however, insist on it being repaired.

Remember, the vehicle is your property - not that of the insurer's unless they purchase it from you. To give you an example: If you have a car worth £1000 that is a Cat D loss, the insurer could be advised that they will receive £300 when disposing of it for salvage.

This means the maximum repair cost they will work to is £700. If it was greater than that, taking into account the £300 salvage, it is more than the £1000 market value.

Categorisation of vehicle salvage is due to change

The categorisation of salvage has long been in need of review. It is due to be amended in September.
Our understanding is that the final version of the draft has not been agreed fully, but in principle there will be three categories.

Category B: This vehicle is not suitable for repair and must be crushed.

Category S: This vehicle has sustained structural damage but is suitable for repair.

Category N: This vehicle has sustained no structural damage and is suitable for repair.

Can I retain the salvage of my vehicle?

The answer in every situation is yes. The vehicle is your property and even on a Category A, you could technically retain it. The question that you need to ask yourself is "why"? Only in very rare circumstances would we suggest retaining the salvage. 

5Can you 'buy' back a car that has been written off?

My insurer has said it is not economical to repair my car. Should I buy it back from them?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked. But how do you buy back a vehicle you already own?

Firstly, you need to understand what a 'write off' is. It is nothing to do with the damage done to the car in any way.

The expression 'write off' comes from the insurance term 'write down value'. This is the value of the asset. When a car costs more to repair than the write down value, it then becomes a 'write off'. It is nothing to do with the car being crushed in to a cube.

Contrary to what every insurer and pretty much anyone you speak to will tell you, yes you can retain a Cat B total loss.

So can you repair it yourself for less? People often think that bodyshops charge a fortune but in fact bodyshops make very little profit. Insurance companies, with their massive buying power, agree contracts with bodyshops based on volume. A private owner could never match.

You can of course use second hand or non original parts which are cheaper. Going down this route can make it worthwhile - as long as there is no structural damage. 

But just because your insurer says your car is beyond economical repair, is that really the case? Well, put simply, no.

Your contract of insurance will state that 'we indemnify you up to the market value of your vehicle'. This means in the contract your insurer has agreed to provide you financial compensation for the cost of repair up to the value of the vehicle.

What happens to a Cat D loss?

When an insurer advises that your vehicle is a 'constructive total loss' - and subsequently a Category D total loss, what they are actually doing is limiting what they pay out. When they sell your vehicle they will obtain money for the salvage.

But they can only do this when they, in fulfilling the contract by providing you with the market value, obtain the legal right to the salvage. In effect they have bought the vehicle from you. Up to the point you agree this, the salvage is always yours.

If you retain a Cat D, you are essentially being conned by your insurer. And here's why. Imagine the repair costs on your £10000 car are £8500. Your insurer advises you that the car is a Cat D total loss, but you can retain the vehicle for £3000.

This means you get £7000, plus your car back unrepaired. But it now has the stigma of being a Cat D. And the market value is around 20 per cent less than it would otherwise.

We already know it is going to cost £8500 to repair your car, so even using second hand parts you would struggle to repair it for the £7000 you received. Once you have spent your £7000 your car is now only worth £8000.

Had you asked for a cash in lieu settlement, you would have received the £8500 and still have a vehicle that is not a total loss. In other words, you would be at least £2000 better off.

Insurers will try everything they can to avoid giving you a cash in lieu settlement, which is a little odd when they have no issue sending a cheque for the market value.

For some reason they think because you are asking for the cash, you must be committing fraud. They prefer to reduce the risk of fraud and they have the contractual right to offer to repair. You can also insist on the vehicle being repaired yourself right up to the market value.

In both situations, your car has been (or should be) repaired to manufacturer standards. So it should still be worth approximately what it was prior to the accident.

Do not forget, read your contract of insurance. It will state you are indemnified up to the market value. The insurer only has the right to retain the vehicle when they have bought the vehicle off you. Up to that point the vehicle is always yours.

What about retaining a Category C total loss?

A category C is where the repair costs exceed the market value. Should you retain the vehicle, when repaired, it will be worth approximately 20 to 30 per cent less than a vehicle without this history. This seriously needs to be considered.

If the vehicle has any structural damage, walk away. Unless you are a professional commercial repairer or have access to one, we would not contemplate retaining it. The only time it makes sense to retain a Cat C vehicle is if there is cosmetic damage, or when the panels damaged are 'hang on' panels such as front wings, bumpers and doors.

Can you keep a Category B loss?

Contrary to what every insurer and pretty much anyone you speak to will tell you, yes you can retain a Cat B total loss. The question again though is why?

These vehicles can never go back on the road. You will not be able to obtain a V5C and you will never be able to tax or insure it.

The only time we would suggest retaining a Cat B is if you either have a classic vehicle - and the parts are extremely rare and hard to come by - or you have a modified vehicle and wish to retain the parts you have fitted.

This could be on anything, from a vehicle with engine and suspension modifications, to a van that has been converted into a camper. There is a possible third - retaining a flood damaged vehicle and converting it into a track or off road vehicle.

You may find the insurer will request a certificate of destruction of the shell of the vehicle, once all the items required have been stripped.

All of the above will change in October 2017. The category of C and D are being removed and replaced with “N” for non structural and “S” for Structural. You can read more here.

Should you have a classic car, the advice above for a Cat B will be redundant in the the new salvage code, and you can now ask for no categorisation to be applied.

What must be remembered is the Code of Practice for the disposal of salvage is just that. It is not lawful and is not under an Act of Parliament. This means it cannot be enforced on a consumer.

This is why it needs to made a law. At the moment anyone can get their hands on any salvage. As a consequence, a vehicle that has a category loss against it can be on the road but not repaired safely. Insurers need to stop profiteering by selling salvage as "constructive total losses" and instead repair them correctly.

 

6How to claim from your insurer after an accident

When you claim through your insurer, you are bound by the terms and conditions of the contract you have entered into. There are a few exceptions to this, but we will not get into them here.

The contract of insurance is there to indemnify you, this means you should be put back into the same material position you were in prior to the loss occurring. You should be in a no better or worse situation.

The original premise of insurance was to provide 'pecunary compensation' in other word financial monies, for the loss that occurred. Insurer's have now manipulated this under the guise of customer service by offering to repair your car, when what they are actually doing is saving themselves money.

On the one hand you may get your car repaired fantastically well as approved repairers have had to jump through many hoops to attain the British Standard most insurers require. Though you do need to be aware that this standard approves the use of second-hand and non-original parts in the repair of your vehicle.

For more on claiming on your car insurance, click here

7How to claim from an accident management firm after an accident

If you're claiming through a claims management company, accident management company or a credit hire company, it is important you do your research.

Your insurer may pass you onto a company who will advise that they can get you in a car straight away and take care of everything - at no cost to yourself. 

Do nothing until you have checked the company out. It's the same story if a company approaches you.

You need to be assured that any company you use is acting with your best interest at heart and they will not at act in any way that could be in conflict to your interest.

Claims management companies must be regulated by the Claims Management Regulator. Currently, it is the Ministry of Justice that regulates over claims management companies.

Read more on claiming from an accident management company here

 

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