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Thursday 18 September 2014

Five ways to drive down cost of car insurance

Graham Weir

Published 16/02/2014 | 02:30

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Model Nadia Forde at the launch of Liberty Insurances Better Car Replacement
Model Nadia Forde at the launch of Liberty Insurances Better Car Replacement deal

ARE you a square peg trying to fit into a round insurance hole?

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Most of the big high street insurers and brokers have very competitive prices for their target market. But if you're not over 30 with a full licence, few penalty points, no convictions and preferably a full no-claims bonus, it can sometimes seem impossibly expensive to arrange insurance.

Things have improved somewhat in recent years with the arrival of a number of insurers who specifically target drivers in the 18-24 age group with a full or even provisional licence. A small number of specialist insurance brokers can arrange cover at a reasonable price with a selection of these insurers. This has meant that although young driver insurance is still expensive when compared with cover for mature drivers, it has never been as affordable.

Here are five things worth knowing if you find it hard to get affordable car insurance, or are finding it impossible to find an insurer to cover you.

* If you have racked up penalty points, you must tell your insurer the number of points you have and what they are for.

Different insurers take different views on how they handle this situation and by shopping around you can find the insurer that will take the most reasonable view in relation to your penalty points.

Some insurers have a clause built into their policy that allows them to penalise you financially if they discover that you have points that you have not disclosed to them. Other insurers may cancel the policy due to "non disclosure" when they discover that you have penalty points that have not been disclosed to them.

This cancellation can make it very difficult to get insurance from another provider.

* Drivers with a conviction for a driving offence can find it very difficult to obtain cover for a decent price and many insurers do not want to insure anyone with an endorsement from a driving conviction.

There are, however, some specialist insurers who will consider each case on its merits and who will take the approach – for certain convictions – that the person made a mistake and has learnt their lesson.

Some examples of convictions we have recently come across include where someone drove to the shop after a night out. In another case, a man drove home after having a few pints watching the football. One driver got into his car after a night out to go asleep and started the engine to get the heater working – only to be prosecuted for being drunk in charge of a vehicle.

* We often come across drivers with a conviction for driving with no insurance after they were stopped by the gardai for driving a car they thought they were insured on. This usually happens where the owner of the vehicle thinks that they have open drive that covers the driver.

* If you are a van courier or you carry other people or goods in your van, you may find it difficult to get cover at an affordable price.

Most insurers prefer to quote for commercial vehicle cover if the owner is only carrying their own goods or tools. However, there are a small number of niche insurers that are actively looking for this type of business and will happily quote competitive premiums.

Graham Weir is director of the online brokers, Quote Devil (www.QuoteDevil.ie).

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