Shopping for car insurance ‘can push up cost of cover’

Drivers facing rising premiums
Drivers facing rising premiums

The growing tendency for people to shop around for their car insurance is actually helping to push the cost of the cover they are offered up, according to a new index.

The rising numbers of car owners actively hunting out the cheapest deal every year means there is now less incentive for firms to offer motorists introductory loss-making insurance prices - as customers have become less likely to simply stick with their existing firm when the introductory price ends - according to the report from the AA.

The typical quote for someone shopping around for a comprehensive policy in the second quarter of 2016 has increased by around £12.50 compared with the first three months of the year and around £84 compared with a year earlier.

On average, comprehensive car insurance cover now costs £568, according to the figures from the AA’s insurance premium index.

Looking across the UK, the AA said Northern Ireland has seen the biggest increase in car insurance premiums over the last quarter, with a 7.8% increase taking the average shoparound premium there to £804, making it the most expensive place to insure a car.

The cheapest place to get car insurance is Scotland, where the average shoparound premium is £404, marking a 2.5% quarterly increase.

Looking at what is behind the increases, Michael Lloyd, director of insurance at the AA, said: “Increasing numbers of car owners shop around for their cover every year, especially at a time when premiums are going up.

“As more people look for introductory offers there is less incentive for companies to offer loss-making prices to attract new business that will, a year later, go elsewhere. So I believe this is one driver of recent premium increases while insurers are looking for ways to better reward customer loyalty.”

Mr Lloyd also said that false or exaggerated whiplash injury claims also remain “unacceptably high, thanks to the persistence of cold-calling claims management firms” - and this is also adding to the costs of policies for all motorists.