It sometimes seems like you can’t go anywhere without hearing how various insurers can save you money with special offers, or they have dozens of discounts available. If you’ve just paid full price for your car insurance, it may feel like a slap in the face.
If you want to get car insurance discounts instead of just hearing about them, this guide can show you how.
What kinds of discounts can I get?
To better understand the discounts available, it helps to know some of the conditions which may apply.
- You typically reach the maximum discount after five to six years. The exact discount varies, and not all insurers disclose precisely how it works.
- The discount is usually transferred when switching car insurance policies, even if you change to a new insurer.
- Some insurers may provide options to preserve your no-claims discount for a limited number of claims per year, or in situations such as no-fault claims, or storm damage.
Online discounts: There are some substantial discounts for buying policies online.
- These are typically only available with comprehensive car insurance.
- The discount prices are usually relative to what you would have been quoted over the phone.
- A time limit usually applies, such as only receiving the discount for the first 12 months of the policy.
Multi-policy discounts: Many of the more diverse insurers give existing customers discounts on additional policies.
- This is usually only available with larger insurers that offer a variety of insurance types, eg home and contents.
- Multi-car discounts let you cost-effectively insure multiple vehicles with the same insurer, and receive a discount for already being a customer.
- You can receive a lower premium, but if the car was being driven by an unapproved driver at the time you are not be covered or may have to pay an additional excess in the event of a claim.
- This type of discount is not available with all insurers, or with all policies.
VVariable excess: Some, but not all, insurers offer the choice of lowering or raising your excess. This can have a major impact on your premium, but will also affect your costs in the event of a claim.
- A higher excess means a lower premium. A lower excess means a higher premium.
- A flexible excess means you can choose your own amount, to adjust your premium.
- A variable excess means not only can you choose your own amount, but you can also adjust this later to manage policy costs.
What other discounts should I look for?
The online discount; no claims bonus; restricted driver and variable excess options are some of the key ways you can save money on car insurance. You can lower costs even further by looking for other readily available bonuses and discounts, such as:
- Driver safety courses. Some insurers offer discounts if you undertake a driver safety, or driving skills course. Sometimes this is only for less experienced drivers, while other insurers open it up to everyone.
- Membership or loyalty bonuses. Multi-policy discounts reward you when you sign up, while membership and loyalty bonuses reward you for staying with the company. These can take the form of increasing discounts based on how long you’ve been with the insurer, periodic rewards, or miscellaneous discounts on other items.
- Car security discounts. The likelihood of you needing to make a claim has a significant impact on the cost of your car insurance. Some insurers therefore recognise car security systems, such alarms or microdots, and offer reduced premiums if these are fitted.
- Low emissions discounts. Some types of car can earn you a significant discount simply by having reduced emissions. If you’re driving an eco-friendly car, it might be worth taking advantage of these savings.
More ways to save money on car insurance
To save even more on your insurance, bear some of these options in mind.
- Buy a car that’s cheaper to insure: Cars that are cheaper and easier to repair can cost less to insure. Keep prices down by buying something that’s inexpensive; safe; fuel-efficient and is a commonplace make in New Zealand.
- Pay your premium annually if possible: Insurers usually charge more if you pay your premium monthly instead of in one annual payment.
- Pick a higher excess: The excess makes a substantial difference to your premium, and it’s often worth adjusting this to take advantage of the savings.
- Nominate drivers: Specify exactly who is allowed to drive your car, and prevent anyone else from getting behind the wheel. This can go a long way to keeping premiums down.
- Park safely: Many insurers offer lower prices for a car that is kept under a carport rather than on the street, and lower prices still when it is kept in a secure, lockable garage.
- Pick extras carefully: Where possible choose a policy that gives you the flexibility to drop features you don’t need, and get the ones that are important to you.
Traps and tricks to watch out for
Discounts can help you save a significant amount of money, but their main purpose is to bring in new customers. With car insurance being such a competitive area, it’s important to watch out for the pitfalls and tricks you might encounter while bargain hunting.
Read the terms and conditions: Go through these carefully and pay extra attention to those related to discounts. Be aware of:
- Eligibility. There are usually some key requirements to fulfill before you can receive discounts. For example, in the case of online discounts, a key requirement is naturally that you must sign up online. There might be age requirements, policy requirements or other variations to be aware of.
- Time limits: Some deals may only apply for a limited period of time. There’s a big difference between getting 10% off for one year and getting it for two years.
- Exclusions: As with the policy itself, exclusions can also apply to discounts. For example, customers who are already earning certain discounts are often excluded from more.
Other traps to be wary of:
- Rising premium: Getting 25% off car insurance is nice, but you’re not saving money if the insurer raises your premium by 26% immediately you sign up. For general car insurance, insurers can more or less set their prices as desired, and change them without notice. You can counter this, by frequently comparing policies or contacting your insurer when the price goes up to ask why.
- Hidden costs: Free doesn’t always mean it won’t cost anything. Watch out for any costs hidden in the fine print, if the insurance offers you free products for signing up.
- Costs as part of the excess: Sometimes a deal might result in additional excess costs. Look at these additional costs, and ask yourself if you’re likely to be able to pay them.
Important note: Many of the discounts on this page, such as online signup discounts, are only available with comprehensive car insurance policies.