When is the best time to buy car insurance?

Car insurance is a legal requirement, and one that doesn't usually come cheap. So, when's the best time to buy to save money?

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When is the best time to buy car insurance?

The best time to buy car insurance is of course when you need it. Driving without at least third party cover is illegal, and so, if you have a new car and no insurance cover, you must take some out before you get it on the road.

But if you have some flexibility and can plan when you buy your car or start driving it, some times of the year are considered better for getting a good deal on insurance.

That said, opinions vary on when the ideal time to buy insurance is. In 2020, one study of 49 million car insurance quotes covering 2013-2019 found that August was the cheapest month for car insurance in 2018 and 2019. However, February was the cheapest in 2017, for the third time since 2013. Rises or falls in premiums can be driven by events such as changes in the rules around injury compensation, or insurance premium tax, so records from previous years aren’t always helpful.

However, what is worth considering are any major life events you have coming up. If you’re getting married and may be changing your name, moving house, changing jobs or having a baby, you must let your insurer know. These changes can affect your premium, and so, if possible, it’s best to get your insurance after they take place.

How much can you save on car insurance by buying at the right time?

According to one recent study, people who bought their car insurance in August 2019 paid on average 10% less than those who bought in December 2018. But that doesn’t necessarily mean this pattern will repeat itself; the price of your car insurance depends on a range of factors about you, such as where you live and your driving history, and so it will vary.

How does your timing affect the availability of car insurance?

Just like in any other market, the motor industry has highs and lows. Many people wait for the December sales to buy a new car, which could be why December is considered the most expensive time to buy car insurance.

February and August tend to be quieter months for car buying, due to people holding off for the new vehicle plates that are issued in March and September. This might be why they are sometimes cheaper months for car insurance, as insurers may want to entice people to buy in their quieter periods.

Why is car insurance often cheaper if you buy it in advance?

The cost of your insurance is all about how much of a risk the insurer deems you to be, meaning how likely you are to make a claim and cost the insurer money.

One of the reasons your insurance is more expensive the later you leave it is that the insurance company is making the assumption that, if you’re late in sorting this out, you might be a generally disorganised person, which can mean you’re typically speeding to get to places on time.

Another reason is that the insurer might think you’re looking for last minute cover because of some emergency, like buying a new car or having to drive somewhere specific on short notice. Their reasoning is that, if you’re desperate, you’re more likely to accept higher rates. Note that if you do need short term or instant cover, you might want to look at temporary car insurance to tide you over until you can sort out your annual policy.

Does the optimal time to buy car insurance differ by insurer?

It can do. Prices can vary greatly between insurance companies, and demand can fluctuate as well, affecting premiums. Some changes, such as a rise or fall in insurance premium tax, will affect insurers and premiums across the board.

Finder survey: How confident are you that you understand how car insurance premiums are calculated?

Somewhat confident40.76%31.02%
Not very confident29.62%35.54%
Not confident at all13.32%25%
Very confident16.3%8.43%
Source: Finder survey by Censuswide of 1032 Brits, December 2023

How far in advance can I buy my car insurance?

Some insurers will let you get a quote a month or more before you want your policy to start. However, getting your insurance too early can actually cost you more.

A 2018 study of several comparison sites found that around three weeks in advance is the ideal time to buy your car insurance. The study found this could save you £589 – £531 compared to buying it 30 days in advance and £567 – £1,156 compared to buying on the same day you would like the cover to start.

This is also true for the best time to renew your car insurance.

Frequently asked questions

*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, www.consumerintelligence.com (Mar ’24). 51% of car insurance customers could save £539.54
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Ronny Lavie was a deputy editor at Finder, specialising in insurance content. She has almost a decade of experience writing about financial topics, including five months spent as the interim managing editor for the Fintech Times newspaper. Ronny has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from London Middlesex University. See full bio

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