A premium is the amount you pay an insurer for an insurance cover. The premium amount is shown in the policy document.
The amount reflects what the insurer is the likelihood you will make a claim, the insurers business cost and any benefits or discounts extended to you by the insurer.
Each insurance company makes their own commercial decisions when deciding how much to charge each person who wants to cover certain risks. So it could be the same risk, such as comprehensive insurance for a private vehicle, but you will find that the cost varies per insurer.
Insurers rely on data to price premium and therefore this may vary from person to person even if the risk is similar. For example, if insuring your vehicle, they will review your claims history, the value of the car, or take into account if you have been at fault in other accidents or penalised for other traffic offences. The insurer will also consider the drivers age and sex, this is because some demographics are statistically more likely to make a claim than others.
Other key factors influencing your premium price may include:
- Type of cover selected
- Any optional benefits you have selected under your policy
- Discounts you are eligible for
- Previous claims and incident history
- Whether you choose to pay your premium annually, monthly or in instalments
- Government taxes
- How much cover you want
- Your risk assessment by the insurer
- The level of excess you select
Why premium prices change
Your premium is likely to change each time you renew your insurance, even if your personal circumstances don’t appear to have changed.
This is because premiums are affected by many factors, including the cost of doing business and changes to the way your risk has been assessed. Premium prices can either go up or down based on the circumstance.
There are a few different reasons your premium may change, including:
- Inflation. Insurers will often adjust premiums to keep pace with inflation
- Changes in government taxes
- A reassessment of your individual risk by your insurer,
- Changes you make that reduce your risk, such as installing a car alarm or car tracking system, installing smoke detectors or security cameras among others
- Investment returns. Insurers invest premiums to help ensure they have sufficient capital to pay future claims. Poor returns may require a lift in premiums
- Regional or global changes that affect the price and availability of reinsurance
- The value or quantity of what you are insuring may have changed
- The insurer’s cost of doing business
It is important to shop around to get the policy that meets your need.
Premiums are a cost item in any budget and therefore it is important to be prudent about managing the cost without exposing yourself to risk.
- Paying monthly or annually
Most insurers offer a discount to customers who pay their annual premium up front, rather than in monthly instalments, especially for general insurance, such as motor insurance, which is annual.
This is because annual payment has lower administrative costs compared with monthly payments, and insurers may be able to better return on investments. Some insurers charge an additional administrative fee while others charge a slightly higher premium.
Under a monthly instalment arrangement, if a claim is lodged at any time during the policy period the remainder of the annual premium will still need to be paid.
- Increase your excess
One way to reduce the amount of the premium you pay is to agree to take on a certain proportion of the risk by increasing your excess. Many insurance policies allow you to specify an excess. In general, a higher excess will mean you pay a lower premium.
- Lower your risk
Insurers will offer you a cheaper premium if you take steps to lower your risk. You may receive a discount if you installed a car alarm and car tracking system in your vehicle to protect against theft; you may receive a discount if you install smoke detectors in your building to protect against fire.
You can also ask you insurer about what you can do to lower your premium.
- Shop around
Each insurer will offer products that differ from those offered by other insurers, with variations in the coverage, the terms and conditions, exclusions and costs
- Ask if you qualify for any discounts
Some insurers may offer discounts such as a no claims or if you have more than one policy with the same company.