This post is sponsored by the Association of British Insurers (ABI)
Car and home insurance customers will no longer pay more for staying loyal to the same insurer – but it still pays to shop around.
New rules introduced at the start of 2022 mean that insurance companies can no longer charge existing customers more for equivalent home and car cover than the tempting discounts offered to equivalent new customers.
Whether you use a comparison website, insurance broker, or buy direct from an insurer or from a retailer such as a shop, new and existing customers should be offered the same cover for the same price.
Why the new rules?
The reform came as a result of needing to re-balance prices more equally between new and existing home and motor insurance customers.
The change was prompted by a super complaint by Citizens Advice, who found that loyal customers were paying significantly more than equivalent new customers – and this needed to change.
The good news is that the new rules should help protect the loyal and vulnerable compared to new customers. The bad news is that savvy switchers, used to snapping up cheaper policies from new providers every year, are likely to pay more.
The ABI is supporting this change, and has put together a guide about the rules changes and what they mean for you
Why you should still shop around for home and car insurance
However, it is still worth shopping around, whether you’ve stayed with the same insurer for centuries or religiously switch every year.
Snap up a better deal from a different insurer
There are still loads of different insurers fighting for business and shedloads of different policies – so you may still be able to find good cover for less. Some companies may start out by decreasing prices for existing customers, rather than hiking up prices for new ones, so it’s worth sussing out your options.
Best cover isn’t always cheapest
You may find it strange that as a frugal blogger I don’t automatically recommend grabbing the cheapest cover.
In practice, you need to check the policy meets your needs. I can’t buy cut-price home insurance for example, because I live in a listed building, which wouldn’t be covered.
When buying car insurance, some bargain basement policies on price comparison websites have really low limits on maximum claims, and I prefer the peace of mind from higher limits.
Check if your needs have changed
Even after the rule changes, don’t auto-renew on autopilot.
Read the policy details in case anything has changed, and make sure the new cover matches your current needs and circumstances.
For example, if the pandemic means you now work more from home, you may drive fewer miles, which should chip away at the cost of your car insurance. If you’ve ditched commuting completely, say so. Cover for ‘social, domestic and pleasure’ is typically cheaper than if you include ‘commuting’ too. You also need to flag if you’ve changed occupation or are unemployed.
On the home insurance side, maybe you took advantage of Covid savings to splash out – jewellery? A new laptop? A fancy mountain bike? Check if your policy has a valuable items limit, as you need to tell them about pricey acquisitions.
If you still have some savings, you may be able to bring down the cost of your cover by opting for a higher ‘excess’ – that is, choosing to pay a higher amount of any claim yourself, in exchange for paying less for your insurance.
Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to tell porky pies when applying for insurance. Any claim might end up being reduced or refused, and in the worst case scenario you could end up with a criminal record. Be honest for example about who drives the car, where it’s kept overnight, any accidents and how many miles you expect to drive, even if it pushes up the price. No point paying for a policy that won’t pay out! Shopping around can help find an insurer who might look more favourably, for example, on new drivers.
You also need to tell your insurer if things changed while insured – such as if you move house, change jobs or start driving to work.
When buying insurance, always check if you can grab some extra cash just by clicking through from a cashback website such as TopCashback or Quidco first. Cashback isn’t guaranteed, but cold, hard cash can be a good incentive to swap insurers.
I tend to start by checking a couple of price comparison websites, then when I’ve identified a good deal, see if I can pick up cashback by buying that insurer’s policy via a cashback website.
Just bear in mind that some insurers aren’t listed on comparison websites, and some comparison websites offer perks if you buy through them, such as discounts on eating out and cinema tickets.
With living costs shooting up on everything from fuel and food to energy bills, it definitely pays to get a good deal on home and car insurance.
Now – over to you. Do you switch every year or stick with the same insurer? How will the new rules affect you? Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear.