How Do I Change My Car Insurance?

Gillian Cooper
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Moving pad? Getting hitched? Career change? New car? In all the excitement of a big milestone in life, it can be easy to overlook the implications elsewhere, not least what it means for your car insurance.
The connection is fairly obvious if you’re buying a new vehicle but adopting a married name or switching address could also invalidate your cover unless your details are kept current. Other life changes can be less significant – but may still require a call to your insurer.

For example, modifications to your existing car (souping up the engine, etc), using it for the daily commute instead of catching a lift with your pal, a driving conviction, a road trip abroad, or changing the main driver could all potentially impact on your premiums – and could lead to a fine if they’re not amended on the policy documents pronto.

Making changes, whether to your existing policy or by switching to a new provider, doesn’t have to be a headache. Here are our top tips for keeping on top of it…

A New Car

Just because you’ve got a brand new set of wheels, doesn't mean you need a brand new insurance policy. Almost all providers will let you transfer your current cover to the new car, although you’ll generally have to pay an admin charge. The precise amount will be stated in the T&Cs of your documents, but expect to cough up between £10 to £30 (some insurers may waive this if you transfer your policy online). Your premiums may also increase if the new car is more expensive or powerful.[1]

If you’ve got an idea of the make and model of the car you’re after, it might be a good idea to chat through costs with your insurer before buying it. Giving them the registration details will allow them to quote exactly how much more you might have to pay per month, and avoid an unpleasant shock later on.

Making the change is usually as simple as a quick phone call. After providing the new details of your vehicle, your insurer will be able to confirm exactly how much you owe. If it sounds sensible, you might be able to make the extra payment there and then, and your updated policy documents should follow soon after by post or email.

Of course, if you’re not happy with the new price or admin fee, you’re entitled to shop around other insurers. However, remember to factor in any cancellation charges on your current policy if you do decide to switch, and the fact you may not be able to earn your no claims discount if you cancel before the end of your 12-month policy.

If you’re nearing the end of your current policy, however, then it could make financial sense to take out a new one with another insurer (especially if the premium you’ve been quoted is lower), and so avoid the admin fee. Remember that shopping around at renewal time, no matter whether you’ve a new car or not, is always recommended to make sure you’re getting the best price on the market.

Finally, if the dealership you’re purchasing your new car from offers free insurance as an incentive to buy, consider the implications carefully. You’re not obliged to take them up on it. Indeed, if you don’t need it you may be able to haggle a little on the price of the vehicle instead. However, if your current policy is near its expiration date, or your provider is looking to charge too much to transfer your existing policy, it may be worth thinking about. Many dealers will also offer temporary insurance to tide you over for the first few days of having your new car, giving you a bigger window to sort out longer-term cover options. If you’re buying privately, however, you’ll need a policy in place before picking up the new wheels.[2]

Updating other details

As we stated at the start of this article, your insurer will need to be notified of any other changes that might affect your car policy. If you’re not sure, give them a call to check it out – erring on the side of caution is better than inadvertently making a costly mistake by non-disclosure.

If a policy change is required, they’ll be able to let you know exactly how much you’ll pay in admin fees and whether there’ll be a knock-on effect on your premiums. While changing your name is unlikely to make a difference to your monthly payments, changing your job could. That’s because some occupations have a perceived higher risk than others. Suddenly using your car to commute to work could also have implications – you’re statistically more likely to have an accident if you’re putting in more miles per day.[3]

As with buying a new car, it’s important to remember you don't have to stay with the same insurer if your circumstances change. If your premiums look set to rocket, for example by adding a young, inexperienced driver to your policy, then it’s always worth shopping around to see if you can save money by swapping to another provider. Just remember, as we pointed out earlier, that the cost of cancelling can be much higher than the admin fee for making an amendment.


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