The idea of owning a car but only driving once a week may sound a little surprising, yet many people do exactly that.
According to industry data, there are more than 821,000 drivers in the UK who spend one hour a week – or less – behind the wheel.
Given the average annual car insurance premium now stands at a hefty £847, according to Confused.com , these drivers will effectively be paying £16 an hour to be on the road.
The good news is that if you do only want to drive now and again, there are ways to keep costs down.
Here we look at why insurance costs are soaring – and how being a bit savvy can potentially save you stacks of cash.
Insurance costs soaring
Recent figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) revealed that motorists currently face the fastest rise in insurance premiums since records began. Premiums are up 11% year-on-year, with young drivers likely to face even higher hikes.
But while all of this may tempt you to consider going without cover – and especially if you’re only getting behind the wheel once or twice a week – driving without at least third party car insurance is illegal.
Punishment is hefty, and could range from a £300 penalty and six points on your licence, to your car being seized or destroyed.
With this in mind, the key is to find more cost-effective alternatives.
Consider pay-as-you drive insurance
If you are set on having your own set of wheels, despite only driving now and again, you might want to consider a different kind of insurance policy.
Cuvva , an app-based pay-as-you-go insurer, offers cover for drivers who own a car but don’t drive very often.
Motorists still get comprehensive protection, and can build up a no-claims bonus which will help reduce the cost of insurance in the future.
Figures from Cuvva suggest that a driver making one trip a week could bring down the cost of car cover from £847 a year to £570 a year by switching to a pay-as-you-go policy – a saving of nearly £300.
Further research from the insurer shows that car owners in London are most likely to benefit from reviewing their insurance deal in this way, as the capital’s motorists use their cars less frequently than anywhere else in the UK.
Findings show that 7% of London’s 1.9 million households with a car – equating to 138,000 drivers – use their vehicle for just one hour a week or less.
Freddy Macnamara from Cuvva, said: “A lot of drivers only need their car once in a blue moon, yet they often end up paying the same price for their insurance policy as someone who is constantly on the road. We offer a more flexible approach.”
6 ways stay on the road but not pay insurance
If you own your own car, you will not only have to worry about eye-watering insurance costs, but will also have to budget for petrol, parking, road tax, maintenance and servicing – plus a multitude of other costs.
If you are only going to use a car from time to time, a more cost-effective option may be to rent a car instead, as and when you need it.
1 – Car clubs – these are good value for occasional motorists, as the running costs, such as vehicle excise duty and maintenance are typically covered in the monthly subscription fee.
Zipcar is a car club giving access to vehicles in several cities across the UK. You can reserve cars by the hour, day or week at a low cost. Once you’ve joined as a member (with plans ranging from a free trial period up to £15 a month), you then pay an hourly or daily fee. This will depend on the car you choose, but costs start from as little as £5 per hour – or £50 per day.
With Ubeeqo , you can drive a car when you need one from £4.50 an hour. Also check out Carplus , Easycarclub and Enterprise Car Club .
2 – Peer-to-peer car-sharing – with Hiyacar you can rent cars from people in the local community.
Once you’ve found a vehicle in your local area, you can contact the owner via instant messaging.
All cars must be insured, taxed and have a valid MOT. In addition to the rental cost, you pay a £3 booking fee, and the cost of insurance, with cover starting from around £6 per day. But overall, there are considerably less costs to worry about.
Rob Larmour, co-founder of HiyaCar, said: “We want people to think twice about owning a car – and whether they need it all the time – or whether they could just as easily borrow their neighbour’s vehicle.”
3 – Car rental – firms such as Avis or Europcar can be cheaper than ownership if you only need to drive now and then. But make sure you hunt around for the best deals.
4 – Car-pooling – if you don’t want to own you own car, search for someone making the same journey as you through sites such as Blablacar and Liftshare , and split the cost of fuel.
5 – Take a taxi instead – Uber may have come under fire in recent weeks, but still remains a cheap way of getting around the place. While taxis of any sort may feel like a luxury, it can make more sense to splash out from time, rather than face the many ongoing costs associated with owning your own car.
6 – Rely on public transport – if your budget can’t stretch to catching a cab on the occasions when you need to get around town, there’s always the tried and trusted trains, buses, trams and tubes to fall back on. Monthly or annual travelcards can help bring costs down.