What’s the score with insurance?

Make sure you shop around to get the best insurance deals
Make sure you shop around to get the best insurance deals

Are you walking out in the world naked? Insurers try to scare you into thinking you are if you don’t buy their cover.

The right policy is a suit of armour protecting you from the world’s randomness – but what’s necessary, what’s nonsense, and how do you cut the cost?
I’ve given each major type a need score – of course, it’s a rough estimate, and varies for each individual.

To state the bloomin’ obvious, the score assumes you actually have the thing being insured – so if you don’t have a pet, pet insurance is a zero.

Car insurance – need score 10/10.

If you own a vehicle, the law says you need insurance even if you don’t drive it, unless you get a Statutory Off-Road Notice to declare it off-road. Insurers take advantage by continually renewing, oft at ever-increasing prices. Regularly check if you’re being overcharged.

To cut the cost…

a) Get max quotes in min time. Different comparisons look at different insurers, so combine as many as you’ve time for. My current order is: www.gocompare.com, www.google.co.uk/carinsurance and www.moneysupermarket.com.

b) Check insurers they miss. Two big insurers are missed here, and can be competitive, so always add in www.directline.com and www.aviva.co.uk.

c) More than one car in the home? Comparisons don’t search for multi-car discounts.

Manually check www.admiral.com, www.directline.com and www.aviva.co.uk.

d) Don’t assume third party’s cheapest. Selecting comprehensive cover makes some insurers consider you a lower risk – this can outweigh the fact third party is lesser cover, so check both.

Buildings insurance – need score 9.5/10. Contents – need score 8/10.

Mortgages require you to have buildings cover. Even if your mortgage is paid off, risking losing your home is a big gamble, so this cover is also high up the list.

Yet even then, only insure its rebuild value - the cost of rebuilding the property if it was knocked down. Many overpay by covering its market value.

Contents cover isn’t compulsory, but risking all your possessions is, well, risky. Many under-cover, which risks you only getting a partial payout if you claim.

For the most quotes in the least time, try www.confused.com, www.comparethemarket.com, www.gocompare.com and www.tescocompare.com.

Again, add www.aviva.co.uk and www.directline.com that they miss.

Travel insurance – need score 8/10.

With cover from as little as £7, taking medical risks when you travel just isn’t worth it. Travel insurance gives medical cover abroad, which is needed outside Europe.

Even in the EU, while a free EHIC card gives medicals at the same cost as locals, that’s not always free and you don’t get cover for baggage, repatriation and many more. So why risk it?

For single trip cover, to find your cheapest use the www.moneysupermarket.com comparison. It can be as little as £7. If you go away two or more times in a year, get an annual policy. www.coverwise.co.uk is currently my cheapest pick, at £14-£26 for an individual, or £23-£40 for a couple under 60.

For more choices, including strong feedback providers or those for over-65s, see www.moneysavingexpert.com/travelinsurance.

Breakdown cover – need score 6/10.

With modern reliable cars, breakdown cover is needed less. Yet done right,breakdown can be startlingly cheap, so the cost versus risk analysis still means that getting a policy is favourable.

You can often get big discounts on AA and RAC cover if you factor in the rebate of going via cashback sites like www.topcashback.co.uk or www.quidco.com.

If you need full cover, www.autoaidbreakdown.co.uk is £39 a year for you and your spouse.