Average car insurance premiums have already hit record highs. According to the BBC’s Brian Milligan, the cost of repairing cars with ever more sophisticated electronics, combined with a weak pound which has pushed up the price of car parts, has whacked up the cost of a typical claim. And that’s unlikely to be the end of the story, after the Ministry of Justice recently announced changes to the way personal injury compensation payments are worked out, which the industry insists will hit insurers’ bottom lines and force yet another premium hike.
There’s nothing that the average motorist can do about these sort of things, except hope for some better news (government and insurers to kiss and make up?). But these are average costs and there are still things you can do to beat the averages. A good place to start would be cutting your chances of being in an accident. A road traffic accident can ruin everybody’s day, as well as whacking your motor insurance premiums through the roof, assuming you’re still in any condition to drive afterwards, so steering clear of accidents and cultivating a healthy No Claims Discount is a win-win.
There are lots of different things you can do to become a safer driver, from simply paying attention to the speed limit (putting the pedal to the metal wouldn’t save you that much time anyway), to taking one of advanced driving courses run by IAM RoadSmart (the body previously known as the Institute of Advanced Motorists). But if you had to focus on just one thing, maybe mindfulness would be a good place to start. There’s been quite a fad for mindfulness in the past few years and the idea’s probably been hyped to death as the answer to all of everybody’s problems. But when it comes to the specific activity of controlling more than a ton of speeding metal in an environment full of other speeding lumps of metal, not to mention soft, squashable human bodies, it’s kind of hard to argue against the idea that mindfulness, focus and the absence of distraction are very good things.
It’s impossible to say exactly how much distraction contributes to the number of accidents on the road but, according to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the biggest analysis of driver behaviour ever conducted found that 78% of the crashes and 65% of the near crashes in the study were partly caused by distraction or inattention due to fatigue. Apart from taking further driver training, RoSPA suggests that you can fight distraction by learning to recognise what makes you distracted, concentrating on your driving, planning your route in advance and using technology sensibly. With the penalties for using a hand-held mobile in your car getting harsher, you know that last one makes sense.
Unfortunately, as the Financial Times’s “Undercover Economist”, Tim Harford pointed out recently, smartphones are specifically designed to interrupt people, so trying not to be distracted by a needy, beeping, vibrating always-on attention magnet can be easier said than done. In your car, you can still defeat the attention thief by switching it off, but as Tim points out, distracted driving is just one symptom of a wider problem of distracted living.
Anyway, being distracted by shiny things aside, probably the most painless ways of keeping your car insurance affordable it is to avoid distractions, drive safely and build up your no-claims discount.
The second most painless way? Shop around. Or, since you’re here already, why not let our team of professionals do the shopping around for you?