Car insurers are the ninjas of the financial world – they don’t get as many ritzy advertisements as health insurance, and most of us let them sneak under the radar.
It’s only when something goes wrong that we start to regret the policies we have. Get around that by asking the right questions before renewing:
1. Can I negotiate the excess?
If your wallet is in more danger than your car, consider negotiating the excess (the amount you are liable to pay in the event of an accident.) The higher the excess, the lower your premiums.
I do this because in five years, the only serious accident I’ve made is my choice of air freshener (two dollar air fresheners make your car smell like urinal cakes.) If you’re a more dangerous driver than me, you might want to leave the excess alone.
2. Can I use a different workshop?
Most insurers have a list of authorised workshops. These are their favourite people to fight with over the cost of your car repairs. However, you don’t have to accept it.
If you’ve found a favourite workshop of your own, you might want to switch to an insurer that recognises them, or look for a policy with an “any workshop” scheme. Note that in the latter case, your premiums may rise.
3. Is there anything I can do to lower premiums?
There are small things you can do to lower car premiums. These include installing anti-theft devices, or having dashboard cameras (although it’s a good idea to have these anyway – even if they don’t lower your premiums, they can help with claims.) Ask if you can do any of these things to keep the premiums low.
Even if you have asked before, asked again when renewing your insurance. Policies do change, and these extra precautions are sensible anyway.
4. Does the insurer offer NCD insurance?
The No Claim Discount (NCD) is a reduction in premiums, granted for safe driving. The NCD grows every year so long as you don’t get into an accident (to a maximum of 50%).
But some insurers allow you to buy NCD insurance: this will allow you to retain your NCD bonus even if your luck (or road discipline) runs out, and you end up making a claim.
As a safe driver (I have all the road aggression of an aged grandma) I don’t spend money on this – but if you have a pattern of getting into an accident every three or four years, NCD insurance may be a good idea.
5. Am I happy with the way a claim was handled?
If you had to make a claim recently, how was it handled? Did you resolve the matter with one phone call, or did you have to write enough letters to compose a novel? How polite was the insurer’s representatives? Were there any delays or problems in getting the pay out?
When it comes to customer service, some insurers have the flexibility of an iron rod. And if you had a hard time dealing with them previously, don’t presume that your complaints would have fixed their process. Just consider a different insurer instead.
6. Have my driving habits changed?
There was a time I’d never buy a car insurance policy that wouldn’t cover Thailand – that’s when I was young, could party for 17 hours straight, and didn’t look like a target for Japanese whalers when I put on swimming trunks. These days, I ignore extras like coverage for Thailand (it keeps costs low).
In the same vein, you should analyse changes to your driving habits before renewing your policy. If you expect to be driving outside Singapore, it may be time to switch to a policy that will accommodate that.
7. Am I being offered the best rate?
You may have had the best priced policy previously, but that may no longer be true. Car insurers are constantly revising their prices, either as a result of their own risk algorithms, or to steal customers from each other. It’s possible that there is another policy out there with the same features as yours, but which costs less.
So never renew your policy like a robot - always check and compare between insurers. GoBear’s comparison tools will give you quotes from top insurers in just seconds.