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How to avoid overpaying for your car insurance

Following a clampdown on whiplash claims, car insurance premiums fell by £100 between December and February. The Civil Liability Act was passed in December to curb the high number of whiplash claims, which currently cost the motor insurance industry around £2 billion each year, despite many of the claims thought to be exaggerated or fraudulent. Medical evidence will now need to be supplied to back up whiplash claims.

However, the reduction in premiums isn’t just due to the clampdown on whiplash claims. A decline in new car registrations has increased competition among insurance firms, as they fight to win new customers in a smaller market. Since December, the average car insurance premium has dropped from £790 to £690 per year.

Analysis by comparison site Comparethemarket showed that there is a gap of £116 between the cheapest and average car insurance premiums, demonstrating the importance of motorists shopping around for a better insurance deal. Comparison sites can allow you to make big savings, but there are a few golden rules that you should stick to.

No single comparison site has options from every insurance provider, so check across multiple sites to find a wider range of quotes. Some major insurers, such as Direct Line, don’t actually appear on insurance sites, so approach these insurers directly for a quote.

Remember that cheaper insurance doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best product for you – it may not be as good value as it first appears. For example, the excess may be high, or the cover may not be sufficient for what you need, so reading the small print is crucial.

Once you have found a policy that works for you, there are a few tricks to help keep the costs down…

  • Adding another, experienced driver with a clean driving license and no-claims history to your insurance cover can potentially cut costs – just make sure that you don’t claim that they are the main driver of the car, as this is illegal.
  • Switch to a new policy before your renewal date, as research has shown that if you purchase a new policy 21 days in advance, it can save you an average of £280.
  • If you can afford it, paying for the insurance upfront can reduce the overall cost, as many insurers charge interest on the monthly repayments.
  • Double-check what is included in the policy, as some elements of it may already be covered by your home insurance, breakdown cover provider or travel insurance – there’s no point in overpaying for your policy!

Remember that if you are unsure about any aspect of your policy, it’s important to get in touch with your insurance provider to avoid paying over the odds for your insurance. To make sure that you’re getting the best deal on your car finance, get in touch with our team.

mot

How to pass your MOT first time

If your car is over three years old, you’ll need to book it in for an MOT every 12 months to ensure that it meets environmental and road safety standards. It may be a bit of a hassle, but it’s a legal requirement to make sure that your car is roadworthy, so it’s your responsibility to make sure it gets carried out.

An MOT covers many different checks on your car, including mirrors, seat belts, windscreen wipers, brakes and lights. However, it doesn’t cover checking the clutch, gearbox or engine, so if you’ve spotted any faults with those you will need to get them investigated separately.

Typically, an MOT will take around an hour – unless it fails, in which case repairs will need to be made. However, unless your current MOT certificate is still valid, or if you need to take the vehicle elsewhere for repairs, the test centre isn’t allowed to let you take your car if it needs repairs.

If your MOT is on the horizon, there are a few steps that you can take to boost your chances of passing first time. Most cars fail because of minor faults, such as not having the screen wash topped up. So, if you check your vehicle beforehand, you may be able to fix them yourself, saving time and money.

  • Lights – Ask someone to check that the brake lights come on when you press the brake pedal. Test your headlights on full and dipped beams, and your hazard lights and indicators. If any of them are not working, you can purchase replacement bulbs and fit them yourself.
  • Tyres – The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm, so anything less than this and your car will fail straight away. Damage such as splits in the tread can also issue a fail, so replace your tyres if they are looking worn. Make sure that your tyre pressure is correct, too – the correct PSI will be listed in your car manual.
  • Windscreen wipers – The wiper blades need to be in good condition and be able to clean the windscreen effectively, so if you spot any tears or holes, they will need to be replaced. Check your screen wash levels while you’re there, too!
  • Windscreen – Generally speaking, a chip smaller than around 10mm in front of the driver won’t be classed as a fail, but anything bigger in the central view, or any chips larger than around 40mm anywhere on the windscreen, will be.
  • Exhaust – You can usually tell if your exhaust is leaking by the sound it emits, or if it starts smoking abnormally, so start the engine in a well-ventilated place and check the rear of the car. However, you should note that not all exhaust leaks can be detected this way.
  • Horn – If your horn isn’t loud enough to attract the attention of pedestrians or other drivers, or if it doesn’t work at all, you’ll need to get it repaired.
  • Seatbelts – Check every seatbelt in the car to make sure that they fasten securely and lock in place. In the driver’s seat, make sure that the seat can be easily adjusted, and check the full length of the seatbelt for damage.
  • Fuel and engine oil – Make sure that these are topped up, as if there isn’t enough to test the car’s emission levels, you will be turned away.

If your car fails the MOT, you will be issued a certificate known as a VT30, which outlines the reasons for the failure. You’ll then need to get the problems fixed, before booking it back in for another MOT – although it can be a partial test just to check the flaws that were flagged the first time around.

If you’re finding that your car comes back with a long list of faults, it might be cheaper in the long run to get a new car – our team are happy to help you find a great deal.

family

The best family cars

Whether you’re just starting off your family and need something more practical than your coupé, or you’re finding that there’s just not enough space in your current vehicle, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking a family car. It needs to be safe, practical, fuel-efficient and spacious enough to fit all of your parenting paraphernalia, whilst still being enjoyable to drive.

There are cars available to suit every family and every budget, so we’ve rounded up some of the best cars to carry your precious cargo…

Volkswagen Golf

It’ll come as little surprise that the VW Golf remains a firm favourite for families. It’s compact but still spacious, comfortable to drive and has an interior robust enough to handle anything your children can throw at it! The newer models offer a touchscreen digital dashboard and more economical engines, but the older models still offer the quality you’d expect from a Golf. Plus, it’s available with petrol and diesel engines, as well as being offered as an electric and plug-in hybrid model – so there is an option to suit every budget.

Skoda Superb Estate

The Skoda Superb Estate may be based on the same platform as the Golf, but it’s a significantly cheaper choice if your budget is tight, and offers more space. The boot is an enormous 660 litres, so it’s perfect for storing prams, and the car itself is roomy enough to avoid those backseat squabbles. The diesel engine makes it economical, but it’s still powerful enough to be enjoyable to drive.

Ford Galaxy

If you’re looking for practicality or have a large family, the Ford Galaxy could be the car for you. A seven-seat vehicle, the Galaxy allows you to fold the seats according to how much storage space you need or how many people need to fit into the car. You may be sitting in a higher-up driving position than you’re used to, but it’s easy enough to adapt to, and the steering is very precise for a vehicle of its size.

Vauxhall Astra

There’s a reason that the Astra is one of the most common cars on British roads – it’s one of the best family cars on the market. Its beauty is in its simplicity; it’s a solid all-rounder. It’s budget-friendly, as the tax and insurance payments are relatively low, and is very fuel-efficient. Newer models are slightly smaller, making them ideal for parking, but spacious enough inside to comfortably fit the whole family.

Audi A3

At the more premium end of the family car market is the Audi A3 Sportback. You may be paying a little extra for it, but you really do get what you pay for – cruise control, rear parking sensors and an excellent dashboard system. It has a sportier feel about it, but still offers the practicality, comfort and space that you’d need in a family car. It’s available with either a petrol or diesel engine, so you can choose which would be most practical for you.

Our car finance allows you to pick a car from any reputable car dealer, and we can even finance cars that are on sale privately – so if you find the family car of your dreams, we can help you buy it. Get in touch with our team to find out what we can do for you.



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