Can You Save Money on Car Insurance Comparison Websites?

James Rodriguez James Rodriguez updated on February 26, 2021

You don't have a choice about whether to get car insurance - it's a legal requirement. And it can be expensive, with many young drivers paying over £1,500 a year.

But you do have a choice about how much you pay.

You are willing to reduce your car insurance premiums? 

This article will show you how to use comparison websites for car insurance to cut the cost - and we have some special tips for making sure you get the best deal.

How can I get cheaper car insurance quotes?

Rule number one - don't auto-renew automatically. Rule number two - shop around.  By using price comparison sites, car insurance premiums can be slashed.

Every year, 14 million car drivers in Britain auto-renew instead of shopping around for their insurance. If just half of them could have saved £100 on their insurance, they're paying over half a billion quid more than they need to!

So if you're looking for the cheapest car insurance you need to shop around, and the easiest way to do that is online. By comparing offers from different providers you'll be able to find the cheapest and best quotes.

Is it worth it buying car insurance online?

Our data analysts reckon that 62% of car owners could save up to £250 a year on their insurance bill if they shopped around online.

If you could make that saving, and did it every year, for four years, that's £1,000 saved. 

It only takes a few minutes to find out. Do a car insurance comparison if your insurance is up for renewal, and you'll see very quickly whether you can get a better deal, by getting quick, anonymous, indicative quotes. Even if it turns out that your insurer's renewal quote is the best, at least you know they're not taking you to the cleaners!

Get to know more about insurance providers’ renewal or cancellation fees by checking out our reviews.

How can I use car insurance comparison websites most effectively?

Start off by thinking about what you need from your car insurance. 

Don't simply focus on price, but think about the level of cover provided and the level of excess (what you have to pay yourself in the event of a claim, before the insurer pays out). 

For instance, if you depend on your car for everyday life, you'll want a fully comp insurance that provides a courtesy car if your car needs to go in for repairs after an accident. If you only use your car for social life at weekends, that might be less important. If you're on a very tight budget you might want the cheapest insurance - but you'll also want a low excess, so so having an accident isn't going to break the bank.

Best questions to ask yourself are:

Do you need specialized insurance rather than standard one? 

Many people go on car insurance price comparison sites, but only look for a plain vanilla car insurance policy. Sometimes looking for a specialised car insurance is better, for instance if you could qualify for: 

  • Classic car cover
  • Black box insurance
  • Young driver insurance
  • Multi car insurance.

Do you have the same level of cover proposed? 

When you're comparing policies, you need to look at the level of cover as well as the price. Cheap auto insurance isn't necessarily good insurance if it means skipping on cover - particularly if you could get a much higher level of cover for just a couple of pounds more. Sometimes, what comes as standard with one policy is charged as an 'extra' with another. 

So make sure you look at:

  • The compulsory excess - how much you have to pay out
  • Any exclusions
  • Windscreen cover - standard or extra
  • Courtesy car cover
  • Uninsured driver promise - whether you'll be paid (and keep your no claims bonus) if an uninsured driver hits your car
  • Breakdown cover
  • Legal cover
  • No-claims bonus protection - lets you make a claim without losing your whole discount
  • Cover for driving in Europe, if you want to take your car on holiday.

You can compare both prices and main coverage options available on our online comparator.

Always check the policy summary before you buy. Consumer magazine Which? found that 61% of policies had at least one mismatch between the description on the comparison website and what was in the policy document.

Which company is best for buying car insurance online?

While some car insurance companies have a good name for giving competitive quotes, no single company is going to be cheapest for 100% of motorists. Every company has its own actuarial processes and its own evaluation of the risk represented by different cars and different drivers. 

For instance, some insurers think that having attended a speed awareness course makes you a better risk, because you're less likely to have an accident. Others think it makes you a worse risk, because you got caught speeding in the first place. If an insurer thinks you're a higher risk it will charge a higher premium.

Different insurers also have different business models and strategies. Some may concentrate on particular market segments, like Saga, RIAS and Age Co Car Insurance which target the over-50s.  An insurer may want to increase its market share, and be willing to accept slightly higher levels of risk in order to do so. All these factors can mean that right now, you're in one particular company's sights - and that one will give you the best quote.

Some insurers also offer a special discount if you buy your insurance online. That can take 10-20% off your total bill so it's worth claiming if you can!

Here is a table showing some major insurance providers offering the best process to buy car insurance online:

Insurance providerApply onlineClaim onlineCustomer appDiscount available onlineOur comment
logo admiralyesyesyes
  • No special discount available for online customers
  • Other discounts available online (multi-car cover for example)
  • 100% digital focus provider
  • Very understandable and easy to navigate website which allows a 100% online subscription without having to ask for help
aviva logoyesyesno
  • No special discounts for buying online
  • Multi-car and multi-insurance discounts (eg home + motor insurance) available online
  • Kind of FAQ robot available to ease the 100% online buying process (however not real live bot)
  • App available only for black box policies
logo racyesyesno
  • Multi-car discounts available through online purchase but not only
  • Easy process to get quote with “one at a time” question
  • Special offers and deals well presented on website
  • Car brands picked from a grid display rather than drop down list - improves speed and visibility
logo tesco bankyesnoyes
  • Up to 20% online, although based on a minimum premium price
  • Discount for Tesco Clubcard members
  • All documents to be shared electronically in the app
  • Claims process handled by phone
logo swintonyesnono
  • Up to 25% when buying online
  • User experience on website very well thought
  • No live bot available
logo halifaxyesnono
  • Up to 10% discount for online customers and existing bank customers
  • 24/7 online self-service centre is available
  • Very simple quote process
  • Enables extras to be added after the basic quote has been delivered online
logo hastings directyesnoyes
  • Occasionally has promotion vouchers giving 5-15% off - to claim online
  • Multi-car discounts available
  • Really clear, easy to use app, and well supported by professional IT team
  • Quote process lets customers tailor-make their insurance
Buying car insurance online process comparison by provider

Additionally to online discount, remember to claim any discounts you're entitled to - the biggest one being your no-claims discount. You might also have a Pass Plus or Institute of Advanced Motorists / IAM RoadSmart qualification, and that might give you a better rate.

But filling in four or five different applications for a quote will take a lot of time even with these well designed websites. All of them provide a fully customised quote and that means you'll need to fill in a lot of information including your registration number, driving licence number, full name, address, and even your job title - which takes time. And you might end up with very different policies and very different prices.

That's why if you're looking for cheap car insurance, you need to use the car insurance sites! You can use our comparator to get auto insurance quotes from a wide range of companies.

Finally, remember that if your insurance is up for renewal, you can always go back to your existing insurer armed with the best car insurance quote you got from the comparison site. You may be able to negotiate. Many insurers are able to offer a better price if you ask them "What's the best you can do in order to keep my business?"

How can I make sure I get the best deal on car insurance comparison sites?

To get the very best deal, you'll need to put a bit of work in. Even if you're using the best comparison site for car insurance you need to make sure you claim all the discounts you can.

Besides using car insurance comparison sites, UK car owners can use other techniques to make sure they pay as little as possible for their policy:

  • Cashback sites
  • Insurers' own sites
  • Discounts from car clubs, associations and employers.

Remember to check whether you have access to special insurance discounts through your employer or former employer, through a car owners' club if you have a classic car, or through any other organisations you belong to. Check out our reviews and go through our comparator to make sure you've tracked down any discounts you're entitled to.

For instance, Admiral offers 15% discount to its employees and Tesco offers 20% to Colleague Clubcard holders, while the AA offers its staff up to 50% discount on their car insurance. Ensure that your quote includes the discount - if it doesn't, phone up and speak to someone. Sometimes, even on the best car insurance comparison site, the online process doesn't pick up the discounts so that phone call could make a big difference to your quote.

You might also want to check out our reviews to be sure that a particular insurance provider is the right one for you. 

When should I look for new car insurance on a comparison website?

Don't leave looking for car insurance till the last minute. You'll be better off if you shop around ahead of time.

If you're renewing, start searching three weeks or a month ahead. You'll be more relaxed, since you don't have a deadline - but this will also deliver you the best prices. Leave it till a day before you need the insurance and you could end up paying significantly more than you would otherwise have done.

If you're buying a new car, you can start getting indicative quotes as soon as you know the kind of car you'll be buying - use Safe and you don't need to know the registration number, you can search while the car's still wearing its trade plates. Just tell us whether it's a small car, mid size, luxury, or SUV. 

You don't have to wait for renewal. If you have been auto-renewing for a few years, it might be worth checking mid-year to see how your premium compares. If you are paying over the odds, it may be worth changing right away, even if you have to pay an administration charge as a penalty for cancelling part way through the year.

Check out our reviews to see if your current provider is applying renewal fees.

Which companies can I find on car insurance comparison sites?

Many of the major UK car insurers give quotes through various comparison sites. For instance, Admiral, LV= (Liverpool Victoria), the AA, eSure and Hastings Direct all work with a number of sites.

However, some companies only quote direct. Car insurers not on comparison sites include:

  • Aviva - one of the UK's largest general insurer, it offers a 15% discount if you take out both home and car insurance.
  • Zurich Car Insurance sells only through its own website or through brokers.
  • NFU Mutual doesn't sell online at all: you'll have to phone.

Other tips to lower your insurance premium

You can find other ways to get a lower car insurance quote. Here are a few good tips, but there are more there.

  • If you're changing your car, make sure you know what insurance group it's in. The lower the insurance group, the lower the premium you'll pay.
  • If you can pay all at once, you'll find that paying an annual premium is cheaper than paying monthly in many cases. A lot of insurers charge you extra for monthly payments, because they're basically lending you money and so they charge you an interest rate for the privilege.
  • Increase the excess amount. If you are able to cover the first £500 of costs, for instance, rather than just the first £150, then ask for a £500 voluntary excess and you will see your insurance premiums come down. 
  • Reduce your mileage. Lots of insurers have good deals for lower mileage drivers. But don't tell fibs - you'll probably be okay if you declare 5,000 miles and actually do 5001 this year, but if you declare 5,000 miles a year and actually do three times that, you're asking for trouble. If you make a claim, it could be refused if you have more miles on the clock than your insurer expected.
  • If you're a young driver, consider a Black Box telematic policy or Pass Plus course. That could make your insurance more affordable.