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Car insurance reviews and comparisons

Driven to distraction by increasingly complex car insurance? Use our comparisons to find the best cover at the right price.
 
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01 .Introduction

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Our review explains why you should always challenge your car insurance premiums at renewal time and how switching insurers can save you a bundle.

Here, we compare 44 comprehensive car insurance policies with value-based recommendations.

We've performed in-depth research into car insurance products including:

• scouring the terms and conditions for benefit limits, traps and exclusions
• surveying insurers for further details where possible
• premium price analysis

Car insurance is becoming increasingly complex. There are a multitude of cover options, and plenty of discounts on offer if you know where to look. However, with so many insurers in the market, most people simply don't have the time to research the entire market and perform a proper comparison.

That's why in this report we present you with a range of value-based recommendations for five scenarios, organised into separate comparison tables for each state and territory, so you can compare car insurance policies side-by-side as well as tips and strategies for finding the best car insurance for your situation.

Review the scenarios, then go to the table for your state or territory to get started:

Car insurance providers compared

• 1300Insurance
• AAMI
• APIA
• GIO
• Suncorp
• Resilium
• JCI
• Bingle
• Allianz
• AON
• Bendigo Bank
• Budget Direct
• Bupa/HBA
• CGU
• Coles
• Kmart
• HBF
• NRMA
• NRMA QLD
• SGIC
• SGIO
• People's Choice
• Progressive
• RAA Insurance
• RAC
• Real Insurance
• StGeorge
• COTA
• Youi
• QBE
• Elders
• Shannons
• RACQ
• TIO
• CommInsure
• IMB
• Westpac
• RACV
• Real Insurance PAYD

Declined

The following insurers declined to be involved: 1Cover, Australia Post, Australian Seniors Insurance Agency, Bankwest, GE Money, NAB, ANZ’s Onepath, RACT and Woolworths.

How we survey

We collate quotes for five distinct scenarios and product features of 44 comprehensive motor insurance policies across all states and territories.

To review and rank the policies, we analyse the product coverage and establish specific levels of cover, or benchmarks, for product features for each scenario. Insurers that do not meet benchmarks we deem especially important are excluded for that scenario, and the remaining policies are given a weighting for other important features for which they don’t provide top cover. The weightings are then added to the premium for that policy, and policies are ranked by the lowest to highest weighted premium for each scenario in each state.

This method ensures that as long as the insurer provides the essentials, the cost of premiums are the major decisive factor in our review. The rankings for the top 5 policies are shown for each state with a ranking of 1 being the policy we consider the best value for money.

Where are the premium prices?

Car insurance is risk rated, which means the premiums are calculated on a number of factors - from your driving history to the street you live in. Insurers are also tending to consider increasingly specific details when calculating your premium, such as how far you drive and even the colour of your car. We look at thousands of premiums across the scenarios to establish trends, but printing them would only be confusing and to no real benefit. Prices also tend to change without warning. For this reason, it's best to use the recommendations as a guide and then get your own personalised quote from an insurer before deciding on car insurance.

 
 
 
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Lazy tax

Motor insurance is a congested and increasingly competitive market. However, like other forms of insurance, rising premiums are a common complaint CHOICE gets from our members. Despite this, a significant proportion of consumers remain loyal to their current insurer – something we believe is a contributing factor in renewal premiums being raised each year.

One-third of the insurers we surveyed admitted that, all other factors held constant, premiums for renewal will be higher than premiums for new business. This is essentially the price consumers are paying for their reluctance to switch – or to put it more harshly, a lazy tax.

Several insurers attribute the difference between the premium for new business and the premium for a renewal to the online discount, which is generally available to new customers but not included when renewals are sent to existing customers.

You should always check your insurer and at least three other insurers' quotes online before renewing your premium. Only seven out of the 39 insurers we reviewed – 1300Insurance, Budget Direct, Coles Insurance, NRMA Qld, SGIC, SGIO and TIO – said they would match or beat competitors' quotes, usually as part of a campaign. However, if consumers show more of a willingness to switch then insurers will have to recognise this in their premiums or risk losing business to their competitors.

Self insurance

Most insurers will allow you to increase the level of excess you pay in exchange for a lower premium.

You can think of the excess as the amount for which you are your own insurer. Ask yourself, “how much can I afford to fork out without notice should something go wrong?”

If you’re able to absorb more than the standard excess, then you should. Not only does increasing your excess reduce your premium upfront, but it can also protect you against future premium increases. The majority of insurers we surveyed said your premium could increase or an unprotected no-claim discount (NCD) could reduce if you make a small claim under $1000. Other claims that can commonly increase your premium are windscreen claims, theft, hailstorm and collisions with an animal.

Even if your NCD is protected, the insurer can increase your premium based on an adjusted risk weighting. About half the insurers in our review said your premium could increase for an at-fault claim, even if you have NCD protection. So if you don’t pay for a small repair yourself now, your insurer will likely make you pay for it in future.

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