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To buy car insurance at the cheapest possible price you need to think about the way that insurers calculate premiums. There are two main factors; you and your car.

Your car

Insurers love safe cars. Small vehicles with small engines cause far less damage in a collision than big Jaguars, people carriers or SUV's. Popular cars such as the Fiat Panda, Ford Ka or Fiesta or Citroen C1 are typical examples. They also prefer machines with good safety records, which are affected by such factors as braking, steering and overall manoeuvrability, and cheap spares and repair costs come into the equation too. Newer models tend to have more safety features built-in which not only help to avoid accidents but also protect the driver and any passengers in the event of a collision.

So, if your insurance costs are very high it might pay you to look at the possibility of buying either a new are a fairly new car with the lowest possible insurance rating. These may not have the punch of a hot hatchback or the roominess of a top of the range limousine but modern vehicles can be surprisingly well engineered, making the most of their smaller engines and interior space. They are a lot cheaper to run and much easier to park, too. Motor manufacturers recognise how important low insurance costs are to motorists on a tight budget and there are a lot of lease deals available on smaller, safer vehicles at very attractive rates indeed.

Where the car is kept is very relevant. A car which is parked overnight at the curbside on a busy road is at much higher risk of accidental or deliberate damage by passing people or vehicles, and more easy to steal, than one which is kept on a driveway in a quiet neighbourhood or, even better, is locked up in a garage each evening. This extends to daytime parking as well, and a lot of insurance companies like to know where a car is parked whilst the owner is at work. A secure private car park is a much safer environment than street parking or a public car park.

You

Most of the factors that insurers base their premiums on cannot be changed easily. They prefer older and more experienced drivers; a driver aged 18 to 21 will, for instance, often pay five or even ten times as much for the same cover as one over the age of 55. Where you live makes an enormous difference as well. An inner-city address can bring more chances of minor collisions during heavy traffic as well as a higher possibility of crimes such as theft or vandalism. In some postcodes the residents are virtually uninsurable because of a high level of claims, including fraudulent ones. Some occupations are viewed as more risky than most; for example professional sportsman tend to have a higher than average number of claims, and because of loss of earnings the amounts claimed are often much higher. DJs and shift workers can pay substantially higher premiums because they may drive a lot during the night, when accidents tend to be at higher speeds and increase in number owing to driver fatigue and poor visibility.

Other factors

Insurers prefer customers who pay up front for their insurance, rather than monthly because although they make a little extra from month to month payments in the form of additional charges there is always a minority of drivers who fail to complete all the payments, something that insurers are not at all happy about. Invariably this attracts additional charges (another reason why it is essential to always read the small print before buying a policy). Many insurance companies are also adopting the American idea of looking at an applicant's credit rating; wealthier people tend to maintain their cars better and this can lead to lower accident rates.

Accurate information

There is always a minority of people who try to cheat the system. Insurance companies get a certain number of motorist who gave false information on proposal forms, in order to qualify for a reduced premium. This is a forlorn hope because the amount of information which is available to insurers is quite frightening; personal privacy is very much a thing of the past and if someone provides incorrect data it comes to light either just after the start of the policy, or, much worse, after an accident and the subsequent claim. The result is, usually, cancellation of the policy and substantial costs for the now uninsured person. It is essential that every insurance proposal form is filled in as accurately as possible; big brother really is watching us.

To summarise then; to be able to buy cheap car insurance at the lowest possible price is a long-term rather than a short term project. However, no matter what your own age, address, driving record etc is, and whatever car you intend to drive you are likely to be able to get a far lower quotation for your insurance if you are prepared to switch insurers. This is because the insurance companies are constantly looking for new business and will often give a good bonus or a cheap initial premium to motorists who join them for the first time. To find the best deals a price comparison website, preferably a fully independent one, is often the first port of call.

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