You may be surprised to hear, but when you buy car insurance has a massive impact on the price you'll pay. We've run some sample quotes to determine when is the best time to buy car insurance and to discover how much you can save by purchasing at the right time.
When is the Best Time to Buy Car Insurance?
The data shows that buying car insurance 3 weeks before your renewal date will generally secure you the best deal. This doesn't mean that you double up on car insurance for those three weeks. Instead, you purchase your new policy with a forward-dated start date. That is, commit to the purchase three weeks before your renewal, locking in a start date that is post-dated by three weeks. When getting a quote, you will be asked when you want cover to start. Line this start date up with the end of your current car insurance so you have continual cover.
How Much You Can Save Buying Car Insurance at the Right Time?
Our analysis showed that you can save anywhere from 18% to 48% by purchasing car insurance with a start date 3 weeks away versus an immediate start date. We analysed over 200 quotes for a sample 30-year-old driver of a Ford Fiesta with a range of start dates from today to 3 weeks from now, taking the average of the cheapest 10 policies for each time window. We found that our sample driver could save between £410 and £1,025 per year on cheap car insurance by purchasing their policy 3 weeks in advance of the coverage start date.
|Policy Start Date||Annual Premium|
|1 Week Away||£1,203|
|2 Weeks Away||£1,158|
|3 Weeks Away||£1,096|
More Selection When You Buy Early
In addition to paying a lower price, you have more selection when buying car insurance well in advance. In our analysis, we gathered 50 quotes for a start date 3 weeks away. But only half of these companies were willing to even offer a quote for an immediate start date. If you buy will at least one week to go, you'll basically get access to the full range of policies available to you. Yet another reason to buy insurance ahead of time.
|Policy Start Date||Number of Quotes|
|1 Week Away||49|
|2 Weeks Away||50|
|3 Weeks Away||50|
Which Car Insurance Companies Might Not Insure You if You Buy Last Minute
In our study, a number of reputable car insurance companies that offered cover for a plan bought three weeks in advance did not offer coverage for the same sample driver if coverage was to start the same day. That's not to say these companies won't ever offer last-minute coverage—they might—but we want to illustrate how you have fewer potential choices if you buy last minute.
- Churchill Insurance
- Dial Direct
- Hastings Direct
- M&S Car Insurance
- Post Office
- Sainsbury's Bank
Why is car insurance cheaper if you buy it in advance?
It's hard to say exactly why car insurance companies price their policies the way they do. Typically, a car insurance policy is priced based an insurance company's past claims experience for a certain profile of driver. Perhaps those who buy car insurance at the last minute (e.g., with a "today" or "tomorrow" start date) tend to submit claims more often. Maybe car insurance companies prefer a more organised client who doesn't leave decisions until the last minute. Or it could be that drivers needing insurance immediately take less time to shop around, and are therefore more likely to take a higher price—in this case, car insurance companies can get away with pricing plans a bit higher.