The simplest way to keep your motor insurance costs down is to shop around for a better deal. The difference between premiums quoted for the same cover by different insurers can be huge and, with increasing numbers of insurers vying for a place in the online market, discounts are often on offer on the internet. The lesson is not to automatically renew with your existing insurer. If you are going to shop around for the best deal, do make sure that you are comparing like with like. It is very easy to focus on the price, and lose sight of the fact that some policies may be offering higher levels of cover. For example, some may offer a courtesy car in the event of a claim, some may not, some include large excesses to keep the premiums lower. The cheapest isnt always the best value. When you do ask for a quote there are a number of things that you can do to minimise the cost of your insurance: Protect your no-claims bonus (NCB) - Most firms will let you make two claims in three years before you lose your discount. You typically pay an extra 5% on your premium to protect your NCB, but in the long term it is money well spent. One claims that is not your fault that you cannot recover the cost of from the other driver would be two steps back on your NCB scale, meaning a 65% discount would become only 40%. Security - Reduce the risk of theft and you reduce the amount you pay for insurance. Car crime isn't having the same effect on premiums as it used to, so check with different insurers what difference fitting security measures would make to your premiums before you go ahead. However, if you can garage your car overnight, this almost always keeps costs down. Fitting an alarm or immobiliser can cut premiums, but make sure it conforms to government standards. Many insurers will slice 5% off a premium if the car has an insurer-approved alarm and immobiliser. An immobiliser costs between £75 and £150 but could cut the cost of car insurance by as much as £56 a year for an average motorist driving a family car. Qualifications - Many insurers will reduce insurance by usually 10 pc if you take an advanced driving course. The government-backed Pass Plus training scheme aims to cut the accident rate among newly qualified drivers. Every year, thousands of drivers sign up for extra lessons to help make them safer on the roads. Insurers are rewarding their commitment with discounted premiums and specialist insurance schemes. Limit your mileage and named drivers- Look for policies that offer discounts if you drive fewer than the 8,000 - 12,000 miles per year average. This could knock up to around 15% off your premium. Think about who is going to drive the car regularly. You can save money by restricting cover to just one or two drivers, rather than going for an 'any driver' policy. Take a bigger excess - than the standard £50 or £100 if you can afford it. Doubling the excess can knock about 15% off the premium. Get married - More than half of Britain's insurers give a discount, typically 10%, if the named driver on your policy becomes your spouse. This is because insurers believe that married people generally make fewer claims because they are more likely to have children and so lead a more settled and sedate life. Other insurers such as Legal & General and Norwich Union are happy to offer discounts to both married couples and cohabitees. Pay your full premium - Many companies charge up to 10 pc extra if you want to pay in instalments. Get proof of your driving history - If you are taking out insurance in your own name for the first time but have a good record, get a letter from your past insurer or company scheme. Use your age - There is a remarkable drop in premiums after your 20s. IInsurance companies target the over 50s for special policies and discounted premiums. The lower rates for older drivers reflect the fact that older people make far fewer claims than average as they tend to drive fewer miles and avoid being on the roads at peak times. They are also, apparently, less likely to make fraudulent or inflated claims. The savings begin at 50 and reach their peak for drivers in their mid 60s. But once drivers reach 75 rates start rising sharply again. Use your gender - Female under-25s obtain premium quotes which are about 20% less than males, but the picture reverses after that, with insurers charging older female drivers slightly more than older male drivers. Avoid unnecessary extras - For example, if you drive abroad, look for a policy that offers free European cover rather than an add-on. Don't lie - The most common lie is to register cars outside London or the other high-rated metropolitan areas, either at parents or at fictitious addresses. Doing this automatically invalidates your insurance. Become a valued customer - You may get a discount for insuring your home with the same insurer as your car. Likewise, two cars in the same family might be better with the same insurer than separate ones. You may also be given a loyalty bonus if you stay with a firm for several years.