Drivers comparing car insurance online beat rising premiums

Drivers comparing car insurance online beat rising premiums

By Jack Han
February 8, 2010

Car insurance premiums are expected to rise in 2010 as a result of insurers compensating for lost profits in 2009. However, as new competitors enter the market, Australians who shop around for car insurance will be sure to find better offers.

Major insurance providers such as Suncorp-Metway and Insurance Australia Group took a beating to their earnings last year after successive payouts for natural disasters claims, resulting from bushfires and heavy storms.

With three-quarters of the market share between them, these losses are sure to be felt by customers, who are expected to see car insurance premiums rise by 5 percent in 2010.

However, many competitors have fixed their eyes on Australia’s car insurance market, with Virgin Money entering the fray last year. And from the United States, Progressive Direct Insurance Co. is planning to launch its online motor vehicle insurance business to tap into the growing trend of Australians who compare their car insurance and other personal finances on the internet.

By focusing on the online market, competitors avoid the costs of directly competing against the insurance giants, meaning that savings made can be passed on to consumers in the form of cheaper rates.

More and more people in Australia are using the internet to shop for car insurance, with 68 percent of customers applying online and 75 percent searching for car insurance online, a Google survey found. As this trend continues, we will likely see more drivers purchasing and managing their policies over the net as well. Experts also believe that Australia’s disposition to compare car insurance online will attract many more foreign competitors in the future.

A recent study by RateCity showed that many drivers can save up to $800 on their comprehensive car insurance by switching to the most affordable providers. This means that if consumers stay vigilant for offers from competitors trying to break into the market, the savings made could go well into the thousands of dollars.

By joining the thousands already applying for car insurance online, Australian drivers can also take advantage of hundreds of special discounts offered to customers who sign up over the net, adding to the savings made in their yearly insurance costs.

The insurance giants are standing their ground in the market, but wise shoppers can always find the cheapest deals by conducting a quick quote online. By searching for new offers and comparing prices across all the competitors, you can drive knowing that you have the best cover for your vehicle.


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Learn more about car insurance

Can I drive a new car without insurance?

It is illegal to drive a car in Australia without insurance. Most states require that you get your insurance in place before you drive the car off the dealership’s plot. So, the answer to whether driving a new car without insurance is no, it is not allowed.

The only time you can possibly legally drive an uninsured car is when you have to get the vehicle registered. You should drive straight to an inspection station or your state's vehicle registry. You must also make sure that you take the most direct or convenient route possible.

It is important to note that your compulsory third party insurance (CTP or green slip) isn’t valid until your car is registered.

Driving an unregistered or uninsured vehicle can have severe legal repercussions. If you are involved in an accident, and are driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle, you will be personally liable to pay compensation to anyone hurt, as well as for damages. If you are caught driving a vehicle without insurance, you may be fined or even have your vehicle seized.


Does insurance cover a stolen car if keys were in the car?

A car insurance policy that covers the theft of your car, such as third party fire and theft insurance, usually covers a stolen car, even if the keys were in the car’s ignition.

However, your insurer may deny the claim if you live in an area where there have been several car robberies reported recently. They will see you leaving the keys in the car as a case of negligence. In such cases, your insurance provider may even expect you to have installed anti-theft security measures in your car. 

You may need to confirm whether or not you left your keys in your car, and if they had been stolen or misplaced, before filing your car insurance claim. The loss or theft of your car keys may be covered by a comprehensive car insurance policy, but usually as an optional item.

If you can confirm that your car keys were stolen, mention this in your claim as this will help establish that your car was not stolen as a result of your negligence.

Can you insure your car for 6 months?

Most Australian insurers won’t offer you a 6-month car insurance policy, so you may need to buy a policy that covers your car for damages and cancel it after six months. You will need to purchase comprehensive car insurance to protect your car from accidental damage, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.. 

Consider checking whether your 6-month comprehensive car insurance will cost more if you pay monthly or six-monthly premiums instead of a one-time annual premium. Another question to ask the insurer is whether you’ll need to pay administration or cancellation fees when you cancel the policy.

Alternatively, you can look for a suitable ‘pay as you drive’ car insurance policy, which usually offers you the coverage of a comprehensive car insurance policy but only requires you to pay for the distance driven. Such a policy may not be the ideal 6-month car insurance plan as it is based on how much you drive rather than for how long. If you need to drive a lot, you may end up paying more than you’d pay for regular car insurance.