Renewing Your Car Insurance: Online, Agent, or Over-the-Counter?
Unlike other types of insurance such as life or medical insurance, car insurance is something you need to renew every year as a car owner. And since it is also mandatory under the Road Transport Act of 1987, renewing your car insurance is just one of those minor inconveniences you must go through.
Just so you know, the penalty for driving around without car insurance is a fine of up to RM1,000 or a jail term of up to three months. Furthermore, you will also not be able to renew your road tax if you don’t have at least third-party car insurance.
So, when the time comes for you to perform your yearly duty, the question is, how do you do it? Online? Via your agent? Or perhaps over the counter at the post office or insurance branch? We have never had more options available — which can make it more difficult to choose.
This in-depth guide will break down each option at your disposal. The Bear will tell you exactly how you can renew your car insurance using each method, as well as give you some questions to ask yourself when choosing the best method for you.
At the end of it, you will know more about renewing your car insurance than you know what to do with!
Let’s get started.
Method 1: Online renewal
Your insurance provider
You can do almost everything online these days and renewing car insurance is no different. Since you can now buy insurance directly from some insurers’ websites, it makes sense you can renew your car insurance there too.
We did a search and out of the 21 major car insurance providers in Malaysia, you have the option of renewing your car insurance online at about a dozen of them. While this may be lower than you think, this trend is only likely to increase.
It's even more convenient if you have bought car insurance via your bank. In this scenario, you can simply renew your car insurance via your online banking portal (e.g. Maybank2U) and pay off your other bills at the same time as well.
On top of the convenience, you can enjoy some extra savings as well. Since insurance companies want to keep you around, they usually offer a 10% renewal discount when you renew directly through them.
Insurance companies have come up with their own mobile apps too
It seems there’s a mobile app for practically everything these days, and car insurance is no different. While not all car insurance providers have caught up on the mobile app trend, quite a few have.
Currently, only RHB Insurance and Etiqa Takaful gives you the option of renewing your car insurance through their apps. Note that there are many car insurance mobile apps for the purpose of roadside assistance and accident claims, however these don’t necessarily give you the option of car insurance renewal.
Online comparison sites
While renewing your car insurance online through your insurance provider seems obvious, it does mean you are limiting yourself to just one provider. With so many car insurance plans out there, it only makes sense to compare your plan with the others, and the best time to do so is during your annual renewal.
Method 2: Over-the-counter
The post office is for more than just sending snail mail—you can renew your road tax and car insurance over the counter there too. Do note however, that while Pos Malaysia has most car insurance providers in Malaysia on its panel, it doesn’t have all of them; currently it has 15 set panel insurers.
Of course, while you’ll be spoilt for choice, what good will it be when you can’t conveniently compare them side-by-side? And chances are, will the officer at your friendly PosLaju be able to guide you to finding the right car insurance policy based on your needs?
Your insurance company branch
If you prefer the physical renewal option but think the lines at the post office are going to be way too long, you can always go to the local branch of your insurance company instead.
Hopefully the waiting times will be better there! You’ll also get the 10% renewal discount.
Method 3: Asking your insurance agent or broker to renew it for you
Many people still love to go through their agent for all things insurance-related, and this is understandable. It’s part of customer service after all, and no doubt your insurance agent will be glad to help you renew your car insurance.
While this may be purely out of the goodness of their hearts, do note they will keep that 10% renewal discount as their commission.
Furthermore, how quickly they do it for you (and whether they’ll try to upsell you when you meet them), however—well, we can’t attest to that. We do recommend that if you choose this route to also consider whether:
You end up over-insured
If your agent is not knowledgeable about your car valuation, your car might end up being insured at a higher valuation, meaning higher premiums.
You miss out on plan add-ons and updates
Relying on an agent means you have no way of knowing whether there are crucial add-ons or updates that are right for you. If your agent doesn’t tell you, you won’t know.
Finally, from a self-reliance perspective, ask yourself—do you want to be dependent on an agent or broker for a simple renewal forever?
Question: What’s the difference between an insurance agent and an insurance broker?
You might have noticed we used the term ‘insurance agent or broker’ above. While both should be able to help you renew your car insurance, you should know the difference between the two.
In industry terms, both are known as insurance intermediaries, with the main difference being who they ultimately represent.
An insurance agent
Represents a maximum of two insurance companies, meaning they will only offer you plans from only two specific insurers. They need to be registered with the Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia (PIAM).
An insurance broker
Represents you, the client, and his or her foremost duty is to serve your best interests. Brokers need to be registered with both Bank Negara and the Malaysian Insurance and Takaful Brokers Association (“MITBA”).
| See also: How to claim your car insurance |
Which method is best for a simple renewal?
Simple renewal means renewing your car insurance with no changes whatsoever. In this case, the best method depends on your priorities.
For maximum savings
If you want to save as much as possible, you’re going to want that 10% renewal discount. You can only get this discount when renewing your car insurance directly through your insurance provider (online or at their branch), or via an online platform like GoBear.
This entails filling out a few simple details and renewing your road tax separately, which could be considered an inconvenience. But consider that in doing so, you will also learn exactly what you are getting covered for and where each of your Ringgit is going.
For maximum convenience
If all you’re going for is convenience, then getting your agent or broker to do it for you is the way to go. One simple phone call or text and everything will be taken care of. No fuss, no hassle, and no need to even fill out any details on your own.
Of course, as mentioned above, you won’t get that 10% renewal discount and your agent or broker may end up being your sole source of information about car insurance. Remember that as they are commission-based, their interests may not necessarily align with yours.
As such, if you are ok with giving up that 10% renewal discount in favour of extra convenience, we suggest you still do your own due diligence, for example by using an online comparison platform, to ensure you can protect your own interests.
Note: The additional 10% rebate or discount mentioned above is completely separate from your No Claims Discount (“NCD”). NCD is a progressive discount you get on your car insurance rates for every year you go without making a claim. Once you hit over five years without any claims, you can enjoy a 55% discount on your car insurance premiums.
Read our in-depth article on NCD here to learn more.
Which method is best for renewing and changing your car insurance coverage level?
Maybe you only had third-party car insurance and are looking to get something more comprehensive. However, you have no interest in switching insurance providers, only upgrading your coverage. Which method is best?
This would depend on how clear you are on the new coverage level you wish to get. If you know exactly what you want, then buying it online is the most convenient option.
However, if you are unclear, then you’ll have to either call up your insurance provider or visit their branch. If they don’t allow you to buy insurance online, then these are also your next best options.
Of course, if you had bought your current policy through an agent or broker, you can always approach them and let them do all the legwork in changing your coverage level. Especially if you’re increasing your coverage level, they will only be too happy to help.
Which method is best for renewing and changing your car insurance provider?
Sometimes, you not only want to change your car insurance coverage level, but to change your car insurance provider entirely. What’s the best method in this situation?
To be clear, you don’t HAVE to wait for the renewal period (up to 60 days from expiry) before switching. It’s just more convenient to wait as you will avoid paying double premiums and also be able to align your road tax and car insurance policy dates so you can renew both at the same time.
Just like the above question, which method you use again depends on how clear you are on your next car insurance provider. If you are dissatisfied with your current policy and provider but don’t quite know which provider to choose next, you may want to check out some comprehensive car insurance comparisons first.
Once you have made your choice, again, buying online is the most convenient option. If this option isn’t available, you can go directly to the insurance provider’s office or contact an agent or broker.
Remember also that agents represent an insurance company so if you want to switch providers, you might have to switch agents.
The last step is to cancel your old policy. To do this, you’ll have to either call up your provider or physically visit a branch. If you are cancelling it ahead of the expiry date, you should also be entitled to receive a refund from any unused premiums (as car insurance premiums are paid on annual basis).
Renewing your car insurance is a simple process with plenty of options. But with the Internet, you now have more options than ever to do this.
Using this guide, we hope the various options at your disposal are now clear and you will be able to make the best decision for you. Check out GoBear's car insurance comparison tool and start taking a closer look at the coverage you need as a car owner