“Woo hoo! It’s time to renew my car insurance, I’m so excited,” said no one ever. Yes, we may love our cars as much as Kim Kardashian loves her butt, but really, the main reason we buy car insurance because, duh, it’s compulsory in Singapore.
Unlike almost everything else in the world (including cars!) where it’s pretty easy to comparison-shop for the cheapest prices, car insurance is a tricky one because prices for premiums are quoted on a case-by-case basis. On top of that, not every insurer will reveal their prices easily or quote you a price online.
So if you’re looking to renew or buy car insurance, it really does make total sense to use a free tool like MoneySmart’s Car Insurance Wizard to help you find the best price on the market.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should slack off lah. You can (and should) take charge of your car insurance policy, because ultimately you have to know what you paid for, in the event that you have to file a claim. Touch wood. We’ve made it easy with this comprehensive guide to what you need to know about car insurance in Singapore.
- How much does car insurance cost in Singapore?
- How can I get the cheapest car insurance possible?
- What is excess? And how much should it be?
- Should I get comprehensive or TPO (third party only) car insurance?
- What is the named driver? Should I add other drivers to my policy?
- What is NCD? Should I pay for NCD protector?
- Does choice of workshop matter?
- What other benefits should I consider?
- How do I make a car insurance claim in Singapore?
- Can I claim if my car has modifications?
- Can I claim for flood damage and other stuff beyond my control?
- Should I buy car insurance direct or through a broker?
- What happens if I cancel my car insurance policy?
1. How much does car insurance cost in Singapore?
Two words: TOO MUCH.
According to a survey of car insurance policies last year, the cheapest car insurance in Singapore starts from about $850 for a year. And that’s for the “ideal driver” – old enough but not too old, lots of driving experience, completely clean accident record, blah blah. If you don’t fit that profile, prepare to fork out more moolah.
Your car insurance annual premium is calculated on a case-by-case basis. Basically, insurers try to work out how likely it is you’ll end up in an accident and how expensive it will be to foot the bill (i.e., the risk they bear) by looking at the following factors:
|Factor||Rule of thumb|
|Age||You can get the cheapest premium from age 30 to 65. Below 30, the younger you are, the more expensive car insurance will be.|
|Sex||Some insurers think women are safer drivers and charge less if the named driver is a woman.|
|Marital status||Married people are seen as more responsible drivers, and can sometimes get cheaper premiums.|
|Occupation||An “indoors” job in an office can get you cheaper premiums. Outdoor or sales-driven jobs suggest heavy car usage, therefore more costly to insure.|
|Driving experience||The longer you have been driving (ideally 4 years or more), the cheaper.|
|Claims history||The fewer car insurance claims made in the past, the cheaper the premium.|
|No Claim Discount (NCD)||For every year that you’ve driven and didn’t have to make a claim, you get a 10% discount. You can accumulate your No Claim Discount (NCD) up to 50% off, i.e. after 5 claim-free years.|
|Certificate of Merit (COM) discount||If you did not get any demerit points in the past 3 years, you can get a 5% discount off your car insurance (after deducting NCD) from selected insurers.|
|Make & model of car||The more basic the car, the cheaper the premium. You have to pay more to insure continental cars, luxury cars and SUVs as their parts are more costly to replace. Also, the higher the engine capacity, the more expensive the premium.|
|Age of car||The older the car, the cheaper the premium up to about 10 years old. Subsequently, premiums will go up as your car starts disintegrating.|
|Car usage||The less you drive (e.g. only on weekends or commuting to work), the cheaper the premium. Off-peak drivers usually get cheaper premiums as the likelihood of accidents is much lower then.|
2. How can I get the cheapest car insurance possible?
You can’t change your age, driving experience, claims history or car. But you can shop around and see who will give you the best price for your profile and car. Start by getting quotes from at least 5 or 6 car insurance companies. You can use MoneySmart’s Car Insurance Wizard to get those quickly.
However, don’t just pick the cheapest car insurance you see. If you aren’t properly covered, cheap insurance is worse than no insurance because you’re just flushing money down the drain.
Cheap premiums sometimes go hand-in-hand with high excess (the amount you have to pay upfront before the insurer will start paying for the rest) and/or horrible terms & conditions (i.e. you can’t claim shit because EVERYTHING is excluded). Read the policy wording to make sure you’ll actually get the coverage you want.
If you have decided on a likely contender, check if your plan can be customised, which insurers like AXA and AIG allow. You may be able to tweak some elements of your plan to get a cheaper rate:
|Factor||Rule of thumb|
|Excess||Choose a higher excess for cheaper premiums. But be warned that you will have to pay MORE up front if you get into an accident! See below for more.|
|Choice of workshops||If you don’t mind being restricted to a list of authorised workshops, you can get a cheaper rate.|
|Named driver(s)||You can add other drivers (e.g. your kids or spouse) but it will cost more. To save on the premium, don’t add unless it’s really necessary.|
|Age of driver(s)||If you don’t need to cover a younger driver, you can increase the age limit (e.g. 30/35/40 years old and above) for lower premiums.|
|Car rental||To get a cheaper rate, forgo loss of use benefits like rental cars or transport allowance (in the event that your car is stuck at the workshop). But if not having a vehicle will badly affect your livelihood or lifestyle, you might want to add on this option.|
|Personal accident insurance||If you’re covered by a separate PA insurance plan, some insurers allow you to skip PA insurance for a cheaper rate.|
|Overseas coverage||Some insurers offer an overseas coverage add-on. Unless you drive up to Malaysia a lot, it’s safe to skip this one.|
|NCD protector||If you don’t mind forfeiting your NCD, you can skip this add-on to save money. But we recommend adding it if you have achieved a fairly high NCD, otherwise that’s 4 or 5 years of safe driving flushed down the toilet.|
3. What is excess? And how much should it be?
“Excess” refers to the amount you have to pay out of pocket before the insurance company pays for the rest.
For example: Ryan is coasting down the freeway, head banging to a Linkin Park album when a tree jumps in his path. He slams into it, and the cost to fix it is $1,000. His excess is $200. So he just pays $200, and the insurer forks out the remaining $800.
Excess is inversely related to the cost of the car insurance plan. In plain English, this means…
Low excess = expensive insurance premium. If an accident happens, you’ll be very glad you only need to fork out $200, especially since you might already be stressing out over medical bills and having a rough time in general. But you will feel very broke when you pay for your annual car insurance premium.
High excess = cheaper insurance premium. The good news is, you’ll get a bargain on your car insurance. The bad news is, you’ll be afraid to drive your car. This is a risk you might not want to bear unless you’re the safest driver on earth and enjoy the protection of a prominent deity.
Note that if you add on a perceived “risky” driver – e.g. your kid who’s just gotten her driver’s license – your insurer might force you to accept a sky high excess WITHOUT any discount on your premium.
4. Should I get comprehensive or TPO (third party only) car insurance?
TPO car insurance is the minimum requirement in Singapore. It’s cheaper and only covers damages to other people’s cars. If you bump into someone’s fender and he responds as though you had taken liberties with his wife, you can claim for the damage to his car to shut that loser up. But you can’t claim for any damage to your OWN car.
Comprehensive car insurance usually costs a few hundred bucks more, but covers basically anything that might happen to your car PLUS any other parties involved. As the name suggests, this kind of car insurance policy has the widest coverage including things like flooding (see section 12).
Which one you choose depends mainly on the car’s value and age.
Consider TPO if your car is at least 10 years old and fully paid off, or if you have a cheap (ha, “cheap”) second-hand car and it’s already banged up anyway. If it’s really badly damaged, you might choose to scrap the car anyway.
If you saved for years for your brand spanking new car you’ll definitely want to get comprehensive car insurance. Otherwise you’ll be in a world of pain when it inevitably gets damaged. The difference in price isn’t huge anyway.
Oh, if you bought the car on a bank loan or if you’re still paying the instalments, you might not have a choice. No bank wants to repossess a Honda wrapped around a tree.
5. What is the named driver? Should I add other drivers to my policy?
When you sign a car insurance contract, you are the default “named driver”. In other words, figures like the excess pertain to you.
Those figures change if an unnamed driver wrecks your car. So you may pay an excess of $200 if you wreck the car, but if your brother removes a lamp post with it, the excess might be $1,200 instead.
Instead of letting that happen to you, consider adding other drivers. This used to incur higher premiums, but these days many insurers will allow you to add 3 to 5 named drivers for free, as long as they are at least 27 years old and have minimum 2 years’ driving experience.
If your kid brother is always “borrowing” your car for his late-night prata runs, you might want to think twice before adding his name though. Some insurers will force a high excess upon you e.g. $3,000 if you add a young or inexperienced driver to your policy.
6. What is NCD? Should I pay for NCD protector?
The NCD (No Claim Discount) or NCB (No Claim Bonus) is a discount applied to your premium if you’ve been good. You get this in increments of 10% when you don’t file any car insurance claims for the year, and it accumulates for each year without a claim.
|No. of claim-free years||No Claim Discount (NCD)|
|5 and thereafter||50%|
(Ostensibly, the NCD is your reward for being a “good driver”. But of course there are many Singaporeans who DO run into accidents – just that it’s minor enough to settle in cash rather than make a claim.)
If you get into an accident that’s bad enough for you to make a claim, say bye-bye to your precious NCD. It gets deducted by 30% each time you make a claim.
That’s why you should definitely add on an NCD protector if you’ve made it to 30% and above. It’ll preserve your NCD, but generally it’s only good for one claim so you cannot just go out on a langa-ing spree.
FWD actually offers this Lifetime NCD Protector which preserves your NCD when you achieve 50% – kind of like getting immunity on Survivor – effectively keeping your premiums low forever.
Oh yes, if there is a change in the car’s ownership, you might lose your NCD. Most insurers in Singapore will allow you to retain your NCD for up to 24 months. However, don’t assume this is always the case.
7. Does choice of workshop matter?
Let’s say you get into a minor scrape and want to get your car fixed. Insurers typically insist you go only to their “authorised” workshops. Likewise, they may be finicky about who repairs the car, and what parts the mechanics can use. If you decide to get your car patched up by some dude on Carousell, be prepared to forgo your claim.
But insurers will give you more options. You just need to show them the money to be allowed to claim at any workshop.
If you’re buying a new car and it’s under warranty, you need to be faithful to your dealer’s workshop or else your warranty will be void. So you should opt for car insurance that allows you to go to any workshop or your dealer’s workshop.
For secondhand cars, older cars or parallel imports, then it doesn’t matter which workshop you go to. You can save on premiums and go with the authorised workshop plan.
Side note: It’s not just workshops that might be restricted. In the event of an accident or collision, some insurance companies also require you to go to specific places – like an IDAC (Independent Damage Assessment Centre) – to get any damage assessed officially.
8. What other benefits should I consider?
Payout for damage beyond repair: Most insurers will pay out the market value of your car if it’s completely damaged beyond repair – but only for the first 12 months. And of course they’re not going to pay for your COE.
Loss of use benefits: In most cases, your car isn’t going to be completely damaged. It just needs to be at the workshop for some time. So check that you have decent loss of use benefits – most insurers give you a transport allowance at least. If your livelihood will be affected by the loss of a car, like if you’re in a sales-based role and need to drive around a lot, this is important.
Personal accident coverage: Car insurance policies typically come with a payout to your dependents in the event of a disability or death. Some insurance companies allow you to increase the amounts for a fee, but you can also save the money on a top-up if you’re covered by separate PA insurance.
9. How do I make a car insurance claim?
Don’t panic! See our step-by-step guide to making a car insurance claim in Singapore. Here’s the SOP, in brief:
- Don’t move your car unless absolutely necessary
- Call your insurer’s hotline for assistance – don’t gey kiang call a towing company on your own
- Take photos. Take all the photos!
- Get the other driver’s contact details
- Get your car fixed at an authorised workshop
10. Can I claim if my car has modifications?
You might think you’re safe because your mods are LTA-approved. Like those Hello Kitty tyre rims. Surely those are completely benign, right? Guess what – you might not be able to claim anything from your insurer.
If you plan to get mods for your car, even if it’s a purely cosmetic one like changing the rims, you need to inform your insurer. They will most likely charge extra to insure your car including the mods, but that’s better than getting your claims rejected.
11. Can I claim for flood damage and other stuff beyond my control?
Since flash floods seem like such a common occurrence in Singapore, you might want to check if your insurance policy actually covers floods and other “acts of God”. The good news is, yes, some comprehensive plans DO cover such incidents. Check out our article on flood damage coverage in Singapore for more info.
12. Should I buy car insurance direct or through a broker?
I’m a nerd when it comes to optimising stuff, but even I find the whole process of finding the best car insurance a very time-consuming and rather daunting affair. No wonder most Singaporeans just happily get chopped like carrot by their car dealers.
If you’re determined to find the best deal rather than accept whatever’s being foisted upon you, consider calling MoneySmart for our free car insurance brokerage services. Here are three reasons to try us out:
Expert advice: Our car insurance experts will advise you on your specific circumstances
Comparison: We’re insurer-agnostic and compare the various insurers in Singapore for your case
Claims assistance: If you need to make a claim, we will assist you
Of course, you can also buy the car insurance directly, if you don’t mind checking the details and reading the fine print yourself. Get started with MoneySmart’s Car Insurance Wizard which will show you the most appropriate insurance plans for your needs.
13. What happens if I cancel my car insurance policy?
You may be totally in love with your car today, but you never know what might happen 6 months later. You might decide to sell your car, scrap it, or become a Grab driver.
Should you need to cancel the car insurance policy, note that most insurers will refund you only 70% of the unused portion of your insurance. The other 30%, they’ll pocket as “admin fee”.
On the flip side, your insurer can also decide to drop you – like if you’ve made some unsubtle modifications to your car or if you’re bleeding the insurance company dry with too many claims. You MIGHT be entitled to a refund. But if you’ve made even one claim, you may have just lost your right to it.
Check the terms & conditions carefully to find out what happens in the unlikely event that you’ll need to cancel the policy.
Got any tips and tricks for getting the cheapest car insurance in Singapore? Share them with us! We’d love to hear from you.