Big v small: which car insurance company would you choose?

Big v small which car insurance company would you choose?

Turn on the television and it is sprawled with advertisements for a range of car insurance companies, big guns like NRMA, AAMI and GIO as well as smaller and lesser-known brands like Budget Direct, Youi and Bingle.

They all have something to tell us, whether it is to “un-worry” (NRMA) or cheaper prices (Bingle). But the thing is who should we trust? While most of us are more familiar with the bigger insurers, can we really trust the smaller, not-so-familiar ones?

Who is more trustworthy?

Firstly, in order to start up an insurance company in Australia, the company needs to adhere to a range of rules and regulations such as the Australian car insurance code of practice and they also need an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL). So you can rest assured knowing that most car insurance companies in Australia with these licences and regulations, are safe and the chances of them closing up shop tomorrow never to be heard of again is unlikely.

Secondly, all insurance companies are backed by underwriters (or underwritten by themselves) who basically say “yay” or “nay” to claims. The majority of underwriters are big name companies that have been around for years and have a huge financial base. For instance Bingle is part of the Suncorp Group, Budget Direct by A&G Insurance Services, while Real Insurance is part of the Hollard Insurance Group. So if you are unsure of whether a smaller insurer is reputable or not, perhaps see who their underwriter is and who will be the one behind your claim.

Special circumstances

There are an increasingly large number of insurers you  cater to a specific market. For instance, the Australian Pensioners Insurance Agency (APIA) offers insurance for those older than 50 and not working full-time; Shannons offers insurance for those with vintage and classic cars and Just Car Insurance is aimed at young drivers with modified and high-performance cars.

The price difference

For many people price is key when making a decision about insurance. There are a lot of smaller car insurance companies out there that are targeted at the budget end of the spectrum and are very competitive in price.  Don’t be put off by the smaller car insurers as you can see their prices and quite often their services are just as competitive and you may be pleasantly surprised by the saving. 

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Learn more about car loans

Does my insurance cover other cars I drive?

If you’re driving someone else’s car, say your friend’s, and you’re involved in an accident, whose insurance is responsible, yours or your friend’s? Does car insurance cover driving other people’s cars?

The short answer is yes. A few car insurance providers offer insurance cover for people to drive someone else’s car. It’s always better to double-check this before you get behind the wheel.

If you’re not covered, you can opt for non-owner car insurance which lets you drive someone else’s car and be protected against liability. However, you will not benefit from other coverage such as damage to the vehicle, replacement rental or medical expenses.

Getting comprehensive insurance driving other cars can be done with temporary insurance. It’s recommended that you do this if you plan to drive someone else’s car, even for a short duration. You can choose between policies that cover you for a fortnight, a month or even a pay-as-you-drive option with temporary insurance.

Alternatively, you can ask the car’s owner to check with their insurer if you can be added to the policy. This will ensure that you are covered fully with comprehensive car insurance driving other cars. Do note that adding you could increase the annual premium for the owner.

What is comprehensive insurance?

Comprehensive insurance protects you in the event you’re responsible for a car accident. Policies vary from provider to provider, but comprehensive insurance generally covers you for damage to your car and property, as well as the other parties’ cars and property. A comprehensive insurance policy may also protect you from theft, vandalism and natural disasters.

What is CTP insurance?

CTP insurance, also known as compulsory third-party insurance or a green slip, is compulsory if you want to register a vehicle in Australia. If you’re responsible for a car accident, your CTP insurance will be used to pay any compensation due to anyone who might be injured or killed. However, CTP insurance doesn’t cover you for vehicle damage or theft.

How to get a chattel mortgage?

Both businesses and individuals may use a chattel mortgage, provided that the car is being used predominantly for business purposes. 

To apply for a chattel mortgage, you need to first consider your options and choose a suitable lender that meets your requirements. Once you have selected a lender, you can apply for the loan online by filling out a form. If the lender doesn’t offer an online application process, you can either call them or visit their nearest branch. 

After you’ve applied, the lender will ask you to supply documents that confirm your identification, income, job profile, etc. If everything is in order, most lenders will arrange the loan’s settlement, so all you need to do is pick up your car!

What is compulsory third-party insurance?

Compulsory third-party insurance, also known as CTP insurance or a green slip, is compulsory if you want to register a vehicle in Australia. If you’re responsible for a car accident, your compulsory third-party insurance will be used to pay any compensation due to anyone who might be injured or killed. However, compulsory third-party insurance doesn’t cover you for vehicle damage or theft.

Can you get a chattel mortgage with bad credit?

Getting approval for a chattel mortgage with bad credit may be possible, given ‘chattel’ (usually a piece of equipment or car) is put up as security for the loan. That means if you fail to repay the loan, the creditor can recover the loaned amount by repossessing and selling the car or piece of equipment. This differs from unsecured car loans, where the asset is not tied to the loan and cannot be taken if you don’t meet the repayments. 

What is a finance broker?

Finance brokers help borrowers organise car loans with lenders – that is, they act as middlemen between borrowers and lenders. While lenders will only recommend their own products, finance brokers recommend products from a range of lenders. Finance brokers need to be accredited with a lender to do business with that lender; a typical broker will be accredited with between 10 and 30 lenders. Finance brokers generally don’t charge consumers; instead, they receive commission payments from lenders.

What is salary packaging?

Salary packaging is an arrangement you can make with your employer that can allow you to buy a car from your pre-tax salary. The advantage of salary packaging is that it will redue your taxable income.

What is an establishment fee?

Some lenders will charge you an establishment fee, or one-off upfront fee, to cover the cost of setting up your car loan.

What is residual value?

The residual value of a car is how much it will be worth at the end of a lease period. Finance companies need to calculate a car’s residual value before they can know how much to charge during the lease period. For example, if a financier calculates that a $30,000 car will have a residual value of $16,000 at the end of a five-year lease, the financier will know that it must charge $14,000 to break even on the lease – and more to make a profit.

What is proof of income?

Before giving you a car loan, lenders will ask for proof of income – documentary evidence that you earn as much as you claim you earn. Lenders will typically want some combination of tax returns, pay slips and bank statements. The reason lenders want proof of income is because they want to be sure you have the means to repay the car loan.

What is a commercial hire purchase?

A commercial hire purchase, or CHP, is an arrangement by which a finance company buys a car on your behalf. You get to borrow the car in return for making regular payments to the financier. Once the final payment is made, you take ownership of the car. 

What is collateral?

Collateral, or security, is an asset you agree to surrender to a lender if you fail to repay a loan. Generally, the collateral for a car loan is the car itself. So if you fail to repay the loan, the lender might seize your car, sell it and then use the proceeds to recover their debt.

What is an upfront fee?

An upfront fee is a one-off fee that many lenders charge when you take out a car loan.