When’s the best time to renew car insurance?

Timing is everything.

If your insurance renewal date is on the horizon, you might find yourself wondering — when is the best time to renew car insurance? Is sooner better? Should I leave it until the last minute? Or perhaps I’m best off just letting it auto-renew? 

In this article, we’ll guide you through the best time to renew your car insurance — not only to save you money, but to give you some peace of mind, too. 

How many days before car insurance renewal is best?

A quick internet search will give you a variety of answers when it comes to the exact day to renew your car insurance. 

For example, you might have read: 

  • Between 21 and 30 days before your policy expires 
  • Between 20 and 26 days before your policy expires
  • 23 days before your policy expires (this was advice given by money expert Martin Lewis)

Confusing, right?

It doesn’t have to be. The key thing to remember is to renew your car insurance at least three weeks before it expires. Any less than that and you’ll likely end up paying over the odds for your policy. In fact, if you do end up leaving it to the last minute, you could end up paying significantly more than if you’d purchased the policy a few weeks earlier. 

The logic of this is quite sound (at least from an insurer’s point of view). One theory is that the closer you get to your car insurance expiry date, the less likely you are to shop around. This means you’re more likely to settle for whatever’s offered, even if it’s at a higher price. 

Also, the later you leave buying car insurance after the three-week mark, the riskier you’re deemed to be — which is reflected in higher premiums for you. 

Is it cheaper to renew car insurance earlier?

It depends. 

Given the fact that renewing car insurance gets more expensive the closer it gets to the expiry date, it might be tempting to just renew the policy as soon as possible. 

And while not buying your car insurance at the last minute will almost certainly save you money, getting a quote well in advance of the three-week mark might actually be more expensive. 

This is because car insurance tends to be cheapest about three weeks before your renewal date, so it might be a good idea to pop a note on the calendar to remind yourself! 

What if I want to change my car insurance before the renewal date?

Insurance companies understand that you might need to change some details on your car insurance policy before the renewal date. In many cases, these changes can be made quickly and easily. 

However, there are instances when substantial changes need to be made to your policy or even when you need a new policy altogether — and these could come at a cost. 

Examples of scenarios that may significantly affect your existing car insurance policy include:

  • Your address changes
  • You change in the type of insurance cover required for your car (for example, you might opt for specialist motor insurance)
  • Your line of work changes

Always communicate any relevant changes with your insurer to make sure you’re still adequately covered. 

Will my car insurance premium increase every year?

Not necessarily.

Car insurance premiums can be influenced by unpredictable factors beyond your control, such as inflation, a recession, and other fluctuations in the financial markets. But there are also more predictable factors that can affect the cost of your car insurance premiums.

These include: 

  • If you’ve made a claim
  • If you’ve moved to a higher crime area
  • If you increased the number of miles you drive per year

It’s essential that you are always honest with your insurer (even if it means higher premiums) as inaccurate details on your policy could invalidate your insurance. And remember, if you’ve moved to a lower crime area, or the number of miles you’ve driven has decreased, you might actually see your car insurance premiums go down in price. 

Is it worth switching to a new insurance provider? 

Yes, in some situations, it can be worth looking for a new provider.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has put measures into place to help make sure customers aren’t penalised financially for staying with the same insurer. But it’s often still worth shopping around, as you may find a cheaper deal.

And don’t worry about losing your no-claims bonus if you move to a new company — that should be moved across automatically. Of course, we’d always recommend double-checking that everything has gone through as it should.

Is auto-renewal worth it?

If you opt for auto-renewal, a quote for next year’s car insurance will be calculated around a month before the date your policy is due to expire. At this point, your insurance provider will supply you with a renewal notice. 

This renewal notice is important, as it tells you what the price for your car insurance was last year compared to the renewal price. IT makes any increase in cost clear and gives you time to do some shopping around should you wish to do so. 

If you choose to let your existing car insurance policy auto-renew then you can rest assured that you’ll always be covered, but you won’t necessarily get the best deal on price. If you’ve got a lot going on and remembering to renew your car insurance is the last thing on your mind, you may decide that letting your policy auto-renew is the best option for you. 

In summary: when’s the best time to renew car insurance?

Three weeks before your policy is due to expire tends to be the cheapest time to renew car insurance. But remember, while leaving your renewal until the last minute can cost you more, doing it earlier than the three-week mark can be pricey, too.

Make sure you share all the relevant information with any potential insurer on factors like your current mileage and where you park your car, as they can influence the cost of the insurance premiums you’re quoted. 

While there are now regulations to help loyal customers from being penalised, it can still sometimes be cheaper to shop around. A good time to do this is when you get your renewal notice (about a month before your insurance is due to expire) so you can compare any new quotes with your current provider.

However, depending on your life circumstances, you might find that auto-renewal is the most stress-free option, even if it’s not always the cheapest.

At Howden we pride ourselves on helping our customers find the right car insurance policy for their needs. We’ll always make sure you’re getting our best price and cover from our range of carefully selected insurers, whether you’re a returning customer or brand new to our services. 

Also read: