MOTORISTS across the country might be eligible for a refund off their annual car insurance costs because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has introduced a third national lockdown amid rising coronavirus cases until at least the mid-February.
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The stay-at-home restrictions mean many drivers will be paying to insure their cars while not actually using them as much.
Some insurers refunded drivers money from their premiums during the first lockdown in March.
But you may still be able to get money off your car insurance during the latest stay-at-home measures.
Which insurers are giving refunds?
Admiral automatically gave all its 4.4 million customers a £25 premium refund during the first lockdown.
A spokesperson told The Sun that this won’t be repeated but it has instead reduced prices for renewals and new customers.
The spokesperson said: “It’s too soon to say what will happen in the current lockdown, which is expected to last for several weeks, and we don’t know exactly how this will affect vehicle use.
“Pricing is dynamic and based on claims experience, any changes in our claims experience will be reflected in our pricing for motor customers.
“Admiral has always been committed to doing the right thing for its customers."
What can you do if you can’t afford your insurance?
IF you’re struggling to pay your insurance, whether that’s monthly or annually, contact your provider and let them know.
They should be able to offer some help which could mean lowering your payments.
We've got a guide on whether you can claim a refund on your insurance if you haven't driven as much during the coronavirus lockdown.
For example, Direct Line told us you might be entitled to a refund if you estimate your annual milage is actually 1,000 less than what you originally said in your policy.
But insurance companies don't have to do this. This is because there wasn't any measures put in place to help with car insurance costs during the Covid-19 pandemic, unlike the six-month break from MOTs.
Remember, having car insurance is a legal requirement. You could face a £300 and six penalty points on your licence if you're caught driving without cover.
Admiral is also waiving any motoring claims excess fees for NHS or emergency service workers and is offering them a free courtesy vehicle if their vehicle is stolen, undriveable after an accident, or declared a total loss.
Others are still offering refunds to policyholders.
Direct Line, which has more than five million customers and includes the brands Green Flag, Privilege and all the Nationwide insurance products, offered refunds during the first lockdown and launched a Mileage Moneyback scheme in October.
This lets customers register their current mileage and the final mileage at renewal and you will be refunded any difference in pricing based on your usage.
Direct Line said more than 200,000 customers have registered so far and more do each day.
A spokesperson said: “Mileage Moneyback runs until the customer’s renewal date, so for those who registered prior to lockdown any reduction in miles will be taken into account when they register their final mileage at renewal.
“For customers who register for Mileage Moneyback who didn’t apply for a refund during the lockdown period earlier in the year and did not use their vehicle or have reduced mileage, they can still fill out our online form to organise a refund.”
Similarly, Esure is still offering refunds to customers whose mileage is lower than when they first took their policy out.
You can fill in a form on its website or contact Esure customer services 0345 609 8971.
Aviva customers who are driving “significantly less” can also review their annual mileage.
A spokesperson for the insurer said: “Customers who are driving significantly less are able to review their annual mileage and make changes to this if they feel it will be significantly reduced.
“Customers who pay monthly may have their outstanding premium reduced, while annual customers may receive a refund.”
How do you ask for a refund on your policy?
Although no blanket changes have been made, it may still be worth contacting your insurer to ask the question if you feel your annual mileage will be far lower than estimated.
There is sometimes an admin fee for changing policy half-way through so it's worth checking if one would apply if you do reduce your mileage.
A spokesperson for the Association of British insurers said: “Your motor insurer can advise on any options that may help reduce your premium, or if you are worried about being able to continue to pay premium instalments.
"Any premium adjustments or refunds will be a matter for individual insurers.”
How to cut the cost of your car insurance
THERE are lots of ways to bring premiums down without resorting to extortionate voluntary excess payments.
We spoke to Matt Oliver from GoCompare Car Insurance to find some of the best ways to save:
1. Save £88 – by using the right job title
Your occupation is one of the major pieces of information that insurers use to work out your insurance premium. Ultimately, some jobs are viewed as more "risky" than others. For instance, if you're a professional footballer, you're likely to shell out more for your cover than a priest.
But sometimes there's more than one job title on the pre-defined list that accurately describes what you do. Picking the right one could lead to significant savings.
For example, someone who selects "chef" could pay as much as £88* more than someone who selects "kitchen staff".
Other jobs that tend to have a lot of similar options include office work, building and construction, teaching and journalism.
Don't lie about your job though – you'll invalidate your cover.
If you’re a full-time parent, retired or a full-time student make absolutely sure you’re selecting those titles and not ‘unemployed’ – it could save you almost £300*.
*Based on a 31 year old male, living in Reading, driving a Vauxhall Corsa
2. Save £520 – by adding a more experienced driver to your policy
Inexperienced and young drivers typically face the highest premiums – but could save up to £520* by adding more experienced drivers to their policy.
While new or younger drivers are likely to see the biggest savings, this applies to everyone, even if you’re seen as a low risk driver yourself.
Make sure you're not illegally ‘fronting’, which is where younger or less experienced drivers claim to be the ‘named’ – additional driver, when they’re actually the sole or main user of the vehicle.
*Based on an 18 year old, living in North London, driving a Vauxhall Corsa
3. Save £76 – by planning ahead if you buy in advance
While people rarely look forward to buying insurance, getting it done as early as possible could save you more than you might think.
On average, Go Compare found car insurance is £76 cheaper if bought a week before its start date.
4. Save £120 – by paying annually
Paying monthly is convenient and affordable but it's almost always more expensive than paying for your insurance in one lump sum. Paying annually could save you around £120*.
*Based on a 31 year old, living in Newport, driving a Vauxhall Corsa, paying monthly compared to paying annually.
5. Save £280 – when you shop around
The only way to make sure you’re securing the best deal on your car insurance is to shop around – and the good news is, it only take a few minutes.
Consumer Intelligence research found that 51% of customers could save up to £279.42 with GoCompare Car Insurance.
However, there are no guarantees you will get a refund. Car insurers don’t have to pay them as you have entered in a contract for a year to pay for the policy.
All insurers are offering support to customers in financial difficulty due to the pandemic such as switching to a different sort of cover or arranging payment breaks.
For example, Aviva is offering payment deferrals and waiving admin and cancellation fees for customers who are experiencing financial difficulties.
LV has launched a green heart scheme if you've been furloughed, you're self-employed and unable to work, have become unemployed, or have had a reduction in working hours due to coronavirus and you're struggling financially.
It offers premium refunds and different cover that may save you money.
Find out which shops are still open during lockdown 3.
If you’re not sure what the third lockdown means, or what the rules are, check out our guide.
And if you’re desperate to know when you can get your Covid jab, here’s the online calculator you can use which will give you a clue.
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