Car insurance gives each person access to an almost unlimited pot of cash in which to fix anything you care to damage while driving. If you damage another motor vehicle it will be your insurance company that will pay for the repairs to all the vehicles involved.
Every vehicle on the road will have a value of what it's worth, if the cost to repair the car is higher than the overall value it will be written off. In this case you will get what the car's total value amounts to.
And If I Don't Have Insurance?
Then you don't drive the car, simple as that. If you drive without insurance you are an idiot.
If you hit someone else's vehicle you will have to pay for the repairs yourself, you will also get a criminal record for driving with no insurance and possibly go to prison.
How Does It Work?
For a yearly fee (usually), you are covered to drive your own car and maybe other peoples cars if you have permission. This will usually be third party cover only so care must be taken as the car you are driving will not repaired if damaged. Insurance policies also allow you to have a named driver, this person can also legally drive your car and can often bring the price down. The total can be paid in one payment or over the year.
You choose the type of cover you require, tell them everything about your car and wait for a quote. The cheapest is not always the best, companies offer many different add ons.
Level Of Insurance
Your level of cover will generally fall under one of three types.
This is the lowest form of cover you can get and legally drive a car.
All it does is cover you legally for the repair of any vehicles you damage, if you have third party insurance and you crash, your insurance will not pay for your car to be fixed.
Only consider this if you are driving a banger that isn't worth the cost of petrol in it.
Third Party Fire And Theft
This is the middle ground. If you crash, your insurance will fix all the other vehicles but not repair your car. If however your car is stolen and/or set on fire in an act of vandalism your insurance will pay out for repairs or the total agreed value.
Only consider this if you drive a complete shed of a car that someone might steal.
This is the most common form of insurance cover. All the vehicles will be repaired after a crash and your own car will be repaired or paid out. If your car is stolen or set on fire the insurance will pay for the repairs or the agreed value.
Consider this if you don't drive a complete pile of crap.
Agreed Value And Modifications
When you set up your insurance, they will cover all aspects of the car. It is important that you are honest with them so they can determine its true value.
If you don't tell them about the expensive alloys, they just won't pay out for them if they are damaged in an accident. That isn't as serious as leaving out information such as performance mods like remaps. After a crash, an inspector can check your car out. They do this to try and get out of paying. Lying to your insurance broker or leaving out important info makes your insurance null and void, this is the same as having no insurance at all.
No Claims Bonus
When you get your own insurance you will have to pay full price for your insurance.
For every year you don't stick your car in a wall or another car you get a bonus.
Each year you accumulate will allow you to enjoy a bigger and bigger discount. This usually tops out after 6 or 7 years which tends to give you a 70% discount off the full price.
Protected No Claims Bonus
On many insurance policies you can opt for a protection of your no claims bonus (NCB).
If you should have a crash you retain the bonus. Protected NCB's don't last for ever though, the small print will usually say that after 2 or 3 crashes the protection is cancelled.
The protection will cost a bit extra on top and it's usually only available if you have 3 years or more no claims bonus. It's worth considering if your insurance is expensive.
Free And Paid For Extras
When you are weighing up your options, you should consider the following as some companies charge for things that others give free.
Windscreen cover (usually covers all glass), you usually pay for the first £50.
Windscreen repair, free resin injection to stop small cracks.
Extended legal cover, just incase that crash is a biggy.
Breakdown cover, AA, RAC, Greenflag cover etc.
Insurance cover on other vehicles.
Excess, see the next heading.
Courtesy car, a car to drive about in while yours is being fixed.
When you arrange your insurance you will be notified of the excess, this is the amount you will have to pay if you have a crash. This just helps the insurance company offset the money it loses through your accident. The excess you pay will usually be between £100 and £300 but depending on your age it can go up to £1000.
What Determines The Cost Of Insurance?
The Car's Insurance Group
Each car is classed with an insurance group (IG) and given a number. The most popular scale used goes from 1 to 20, most smart fortwos are group 2 or 3 but the Roadster is considerably higher despite having the same engine. The IG is decided working on:
The price from new.
Power of the engine.
Price of parts.
Availablity of parts.
Security features from new.
How popular it will be with car theives.
The statistics of every area of the world is known by insurance companies. If you live in an area with very low car crime, vandalism and traffic, you will pay a lot less than someone who lives in a crime hotspot that is heaving with traffic.
If you have a driveway or a garage, this can also bring your insurance cost down but it is important you put your car in the garage or on the drive as you said you would.
Age is big factor in the price of insurance but that's certainly not all.
The number of years you have been driving.
How many years NCB you have.
How many times you have claimed off the insurance before.
If you have any points on your licence.
If you have any driving convictions or lapsed bans.
Added security like catagory 1 alarms or catagory Q trackers will reduce the total cost.
The smart comes with a catagory 2 immobiliser as standard.
Most modifications with bring the price up, even such things like brake upgrades which will really make the car safer. The insurance companies believe that you are some mental town racer just because you have swapped out a few things on your car.
Best Insurance Company For A Smart?
There is no single 'best' company, it will differ from one person to another.
Although the smart has been out for some time, it is still seen as a speciality vehicle.
Some companies will not quote on smarts and even less will quote on modified ones.
People who don't phone about before settling on a quote can lose hundreds of pounds
in some cases, if you have an unmodified smart then try a price comparison website.
They pump your info into a load of insurers and give you a list of quotes.
If your smart is modified, you will have to phone about.
Companies That Will Insure Modified Smarts
I have been with a few companies myself but will only recommend the following two.
They were both very friendly to deal with and the lady at MSM was very interested in my smart, even knowing about Blinschleiche exhausts. None of my mods were any trouble to either of these companies, they just wanted to know how much it would cost to replace and how much extra power it could give (if applicable).
It was very refreshing not to be shunned as soon as I mentioned remaps.
Ed recommends Brentacre - 01279 650 933. I did a quick search and found quite a few modified car owners singing their praises and claiming big savings on their renewals.