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Car insurance: how to choose the most advantageous car liability policy
For many Italians owning a car is still essential today, unless perhaps living in a city served by an excellent public transport network. For many, then, driving is a real pleasure and giving up the car is therefore inconceivable.All car owners are well aware of the fixed costs that the four wheels entail, that is the annual payment of the car tax and compulsory car insurance. If the first is a tax and as such non-negotiable, the second can have an annual cost (premium) that varies greatly depending on the insurance company with which we stipulate it.
What does the RC car include?
The compulsory civil liability policy includes insurance coverage for:
- Damage caused to third parties by the circulation of the vehicle and its possible trailer;
- Damage unintentionally caused to third parties by passengers while the vehicle is in circulation;
- Damage caused to third parties while the vehicle is being illegally driven by minor children without the knowledge of the policyholder;
- Material damage caused to third parties by the car fire ;
- Damage caused to third parties during the loading or unloading of the vehicle without the aid of mechanical means;
- For auto-school: damage caused to third parties while driving the student, as long as a qualified instructor is present;
- For variously rented vehicles: damage to property of third persons transported.
As is evident, these are essential minimum insurance coverage: anyone who wants greater protection will have to activate optional protections at an additional premium. We will see later which are the most common protections.
An important premise to make, for those who are not yet aware of it, is that the insurance premiums are not “fixed”, rather they are calculated taking into consideration a detailed table of insurance risk factors . The items taken into consideration are many and their weight is based on statistical evidence: here then the premiums vary according to the age of the insured, his gender, his previous (possible) road accidents, but also on the basis of municipality of residence and years of experience behind the wheel.
The calculation also includes the characteristics of the vehicle to be insured: the age of the car, the displacement, the power supply of the engine, the specific model and the place where it is kept overnight.All these variables mean that there is no motor liability premium equal to the other, thus generating in the insured the unpleasant feeling of not understanding the reasons behind these differences. The most sensible thing, therefore, is not to make a comparison with the premium paid by our friends and family, but rather, given in hand, to compare what each insurance company offers us.
The ceiling is the maximum amount that the insurance company can repay to the insured. By law, minimum ceilings are established which all companies must comply with. These are:
- Personal injury : € 6,070,000 ( regardless of the number of victims involved);
- Property damage : € 1,220,000 (regardless of the number of damaged persons).
It is always possible to negotiate higher ceilings, which obviously entail a higher premium than the legal minimum ceilings. Some companies offer their policyholders even significantly higher limits directly, therefore we recommend that you carefully collect the information on this before entering into an insurance contract: at a reasonable premium you can sometimes get very respectable limits.
Types of driving
At the time of taking out the car insurance we have a choice between different types of driving , which will have an impact on the amount of the premium. There are basically three types:
- Exclusive guide : the only person who will drive the insured vehicle will be the policyholder;
- Free driving: the car can be driven by anyone, in this case the premium is higher;
- Expert guide : each company sets an age limit below which the premium is increased due to the lesser experience of the driver. Usually the limit is set at 25 years, but in some cases it is slightly lower (23 years) or higher (26 years).
Given that the car liability policy offers only partial coverage of all damages that a vehicle, the driver or passengers may suffer, the additional coverage is among the most interesting aspects to consider when taking out the insurance.Each company has its own range of supplementary insurance , more or less wide and more or less differentiated. There are some very popular coverage that is offered by virtually all insurance companies, others more particular that are offered only by a few. Let’s first look at the most common tires , which are also those of greatest interest to the majority of motorists:
- Theft and fire : Often offered together, these two covers reimburse the loss due to theft or fire of the car. The ceilings vary from company to company and the reimbursement always excludes damages with willful misconduct;
- Crystals : This very popular policy covers the costs of repairing and replacing damaged or shattered crystals;
- Kasko collisions : this coverage reimburses the damage suffered by the vehicle in the event of accidental collisions with other vehicles;
- Full Kasko : an extension of the previous policy, also covers damage suffered in the event of collisions even with fixed objects, such as walls and poles;
- Roadside assistance: entitles you to roadside assistance and logistical assistance in case of immobilization of the vehicle while traveling;
- Driver accident : this policy compensates the driver in the event of death or permanent disability due to a road accident;
- Natural events : as the name suggests, the policy reimburses the damage suffered by the vehicle due to natural events, from hail to avalanches, from floods to tornadoes;
- Vandalism and sociopolitical events : this is a policy of “modern times” and covers the damage reported by the vehicle in the event of acts of terrorism, demonstrations, riots and riots in general;
- Legal protection : with this coverage, the insurance reimburses the legal costs for judicial and extrajudicial proceedings following the involvement in an accident, whether driving the car or as pedestrians or cyclists.
Among the more particular optional coverages, however, we mention some not very common ones, such as the policy on damage caused by wild or stray animals , or civil liability for facts related to private life (includes for example damage caused by your pets) , or even the protection against recourse , useful in cases where the insurance has to be claimed against the insured for the reimbursement of the amount paid.The cases are endless, as is evident, and there is no event or occurrence that cannot be assured. This is why we believe it is very important to know and evaluate the additional protection packages offered by insurance companies: we must choose the insurance that meets our needs.
Since we realize that it is not really possible to illustrate the differences between the various insurance offers, we have chosen to collect a number of quotes from different companies . The policyholder and the vehicle to be insured do not change, so it is easy to see the price differences and the breadth of the offer of additional coverage.
The fictitious driver we used for our test is a 40-year-old woman , single and childless, living in a medium-sized municipality in Northern Italy. You are the sole driver of the insured vehicle and you have never had an accident.
The hypothetical car we have chosen for our test is a second series Peugeot 308 BlueHDi 100 of new registration, therefore with a diesel engine and a displacement of 1560 cc. Let’s assume we drive around 10,000 km a year with this car, both for work and leisure, and to keep the car in our private garage.
Our test was conducted in July 2019 and produced the results that we report in the table below.
|Company||RCA||Theft and fire||Legal protection||Roadside assistance||Crystals||Natural events||Kasko collisions||Complete Kasko||Driver injury||Vandalism|
|Genialloyd||€ 455||€ 59||€ 13||€ 16||€ 68||nd||€ 258||€ 326||€ 24||nd|
|ConTe.it||€ 508||€ 39||€ 19||€ 19||€ 50||nd||€ 164||€ 474||€ 39||nd|
|Verdi||€ 606||nd||€ 13||€ 13||nd||nd||nd||nd||€ 20||nd|
|Direct||€ 716||€ 70||€ 24||€ 22||€ 72||€ 126||nd||nd||€ 39||nd|
|Quixa||€ 731||€ 70||€ 24||€ 22||€ 72||€ 126||€ 216||nd||€ 39||nd|
|Zurich Connect||€ 768||€ 90||€ 25||€ 19||€ 226||€ 153||€ 256||nd||€ 30||nd|
We compared the basic premium for motor liability only, plus the cost of the individual additional coverages, where available. The table shows quite well not only the great differences that pass between the offer of one and the other company (for example, from General, which offers no additional coverage, to Genialloyd which offers almost all packages), but also the great price variability between the various premiums (we have highlighted the lower ones in bold).
Where do you pay for car insurance?
The car insurance can be paid through a good number of channels, physical and virtual:
- In the agency: we can go to our insurance agency and make the payment there, paying by credit or debit card ;
- By post: using the postal bulletin prepared and sent by the insurance agency;
- In tobacconists: various companies provide the possibility of paying the premium through the Lottomatica (Lis Paga) or Sisal (SisalPay) network;
- In the bank or via home banking by bank transfer ;
- On the PayPal insurance site.
The payment methods are not the same for all companies: you must therefore be sure which methods your insurance accepts. Normally these are however indicated in the notice of expiration sent before the end of the coverage.
What should I keep from car insurance?
Since 2015 it is no longer mandatory to show the insurance slip on the car’s windscreen that certifies payment and validity. However, law enforcement agencies may require you to show proof of vehicle insurance, so you must keep the original or copy of the insurance certificate in the car. A digital copy stored on your smartphone can also be used, to be shown on request.
The payment receipts, on the other hand, must be kept for one year after the expiry of the policy.
What do you need to take out car insurance?
In order to take out car insurance, it is necessary to show some documents, both personal and of the vehicle. Going in order:
- A valid identity document ;
- The tax code ;
- Your risk certificate ;
- The vehicle registration document;
- In case of first registration: the car ownership certificate.
When does car insurance expire?
The typical motor liability insurance policy is valid for 365 days from the established date. The insurer normally sends the insured a notice 30 days before the expiration date, so as to give him time to take out a new policy. If the expiration date is passed without there being a new coverage, there are still 15 days of grace during which the expired insurance remains valid.
How long do I have to renew my car insurance?
As just mentioned, there is a 15-day grace period following the expiry of the motor liability insurance during which the old insurance remains valid. This buffer period is not envisaged for only half-yearly or in any case temporary policies.
Once the terms have elapsed, the insurance is no longer valid and, if you use the car anyway, you will face relative penalties.
Why does the car insurance premium increase?
In theory, in the absence of road accidents and with increasing age and consequently the experience behind the wheel, the insurance premium should decrease with the passage of time: it is the classic formula of bonus/malus policies. On the other hand, many motorists note the opposite, that is, a constant and apparently unjustified increase in the premium from year to year.
In the absence of events that could justify the increase in the premium, this is probably due to the operating mechanisms of the insurance agency. In fact, insurance companies assign agencies a budget of discounts to be managed during the year: by checking the policy it is possible to note the percentage of “commercial discount” which we benefited from at the time of stipulation. In most cases, therefore, it is not a real increase, but simply a minor discount that is applied to us.