A staggering increase in the average cost of car insurance places it as the third most expensive household bill, new data reveals.
Motorists are now paying £776 for their car insurance, following a £119 (18%) increase in prices over the past 3 months, on average. That’s according to the latest (Q2 2023) car insurance price index, powered by WTW.
Based on more than 6 million quotes over the quarter, it’s the most comprehensive car insurance price index for comprehensive policies.
According to the data, prices are now £222, or 40%, more expensive than they were 12 months ago, on average. This makes it the biggest price increase on record. And to put into context how quickly prices have increased, the average premium is 49% more expensive than 2 years ago, in comparison.
These steep increases mean that car insurance costs are close to the expensive rates people are paying for council tax and energy, according to further research.
A survey of 2,000 UK drivers found that the average council tax bill is £984 per year, and £964 for energy. And that’s in addition to other expensive essentials, such as food and home entertainment. That’s as research shows the average UK driver is spending:
- £1,022 on food shopping
- £690 on home entertainment services such as broadband and TV subscriptions
Are all drivers seeing price increases?
Although some drivers saw some savings, most drivers are feeling the effects of these price hikes.
While this may look bleak to drivers, especially during a financially turbulent time, research also shows that there are savings to be made. According to the additional research, only 9% of UK drivers had a cheaper renewal price last quarter (April – June). This proves that myths surrounding the regulations implemented by the Financial Conduct Authority in January 2021 aren’t true.
Following the changes, many drivers believed they wouldn‘t get a more expensive renewal price. But as the research proves, this isn’t the case. In fact, almost 2 in 3 (59%) saw their price increase, by £52, on average. This is despite almost a third (31%) having no driving convictions, and a further third (32%) having at least 1 year’s no-claims bonus on their policy.
However, many people trusted that they could find a better price, with almost half (46%) going on to switch providers. Of these, almost 2 in 3 (64%) used a price comparison site and saved £63 on their original price, on average.
It’s a similar picture for those who saw a cheaper price, which averaged at just £34 less than the previous year. Two in 5 (40%) went on to buy with another provider, with 1 in 2 (50%) using a price comparison site and also saved £63, on average.
It seems buying a new car insurance policy right now may sound unaffordable. But figures prove that drivers can still save money compared to the renewal price their current insurer is offering.
Why are prices increasing?
It’s clear from the data that prices are increasing for all drivers, whether they choose to renew or buy a new policy. But why are prices rising so significantly?
One of the biggest expenses for insurers is claims. During the pandemic, fewer cars were on the road. As a result, the industry saw a reasonable drop in prices to reflect the reduction in claims being made. But now, research suggests normal driving habits have resumed. This could mean insurers are having to pay out for more claims than they were 2 years ago.
But the important fact here is that the cost of these claims has increased significantly for insurers. Like with many other businesses, this is arguably down to the shift in inflation rates reported over the past 18 months. And this, as a result, has driven up the cost of repairs and maintenance, which in the event of a claim, is covered by the insurer. This is especially true for newer cars, and many used cars that are in high demand. In fact, the Association for British Insurers (ABI) reported a 33% uplift in the cost of vehicle repairs last quarter.
We’re also seeing that used cars are holding their value more in the current climate. This means that payouts for write-offs or total losses are costing insurers more to cover. Similarly, new cars as well as electric vehicles are much higher in value than before due to more expensive features and upgrades coming as standard. This means paying out to replace a new car is costing insurers more.
What does this mean for drivers?
While the average cost of car insurance in the UK has reached £776, there are some drivers that will be paying significantly more than this. The price paid varies quite a bit, based on a drivers’ gender, location and age.
For example, the average premium for male drivers is now £827. This has increased by £236 (40%) in the last year, and £125 (18%) in the past 3 months. In comparison, female drivers are now paying £690, following a £198 (40%) increase year-on-year, and £107 (18%) over the quarter. This brings the average gap between them to £137.
Similarly, a driver’s location has a huge bearing on their price, with some now paying over £1,000 for their car insurance. A £299 (42%) increase in prices in Outer London has put the average premium in the region at £1,003 – the first time it has reached over £1,000 since the index began. However, Inner London remains the most expensive region in the UK, with the average driver now paying out £1,257.
As expected, prices have risen across all UK regions, but some are still paying a considerable amount less than others. For example, the average insurance cost in the South West is only £509, despite a £136 (36%) increase over the year.
And in most cases, prices are at their most expensive on record for each region, with the exception of Manchester and Merseyside. The average car insurance cost in the region is now £965, making it the most expensive region outside of London. However, this is still £48 (-5%) less than the highest price paid on record (Q4 2011).
A driver’s age also determines how much they pay, with younger drivers bearing the brunt of the biggest car insurance costs. Steep increases means that drivers aged between 17 and 19 are paying out more than £2,000 for their policies, on average. In particular, 18-year-olds are paying the most, with the average premium now £2,404. This is followed by 19-year-olds, who are paying £2,097, and 17-year-olds who are paying £2,088. At the other end of the scale, drivers around retirement age benefit from the cheapest prices. In fact, for 69-year-olds, the average premium is just £413, in comparison, with drivers aged 61 and over all paying in the £400 bracket.
Why are some drivers paying more than others?
While it may seem unjustified for some drivers to be paying out such hefty prices compared to others, this all comes down to the risk.
For example, male drivers typically have a higher risk profile than women, as they statistically drive more miles and more expensive cars. This puts them at an increased risk of a payout for insurers, as they have to account for the cost of covering a higher value car.
Claims frequency is the biggest explanation for why drivers pay more, and when it comes to location, it’s typically the more populated areas that see the biggest prices. This is because these areas have more cars on the road, higher traffic levels and therefore a higher risk of accidents and claims.
And when it comes to age, younger drivers who are typically less experienced pay more as they’re at a higher risk of making a claim. However, as they build up their driving experience and their no-claims, they should see their costs reduce over time.
How can drivers save money?
With the cost of living crisis continuing to hit Brits in the pocket, it’s clear car insurance is quickly becoming another hefty expense for drivers. It’s no surprise, then, that 2 in 5 (40%) motorists are calling on insurers to do more to make the cost of car insurance more affordable. In fact, 1 in 4 (25%) claim they’re having to drive less due to the rising costs. And 1 in 5 (20%) are finding the overall cost of driving too difficult to manage.
With the average car insurance price now £776, the overall cost of motoring has reached almost £2,000. That’s as research shows the average UK driver is spending an additional £720 on fuel per year, and £455 on other car maintenance costs.
However, according to Confused.com’s fuel price index, the average price of petrol dropped to 143.3p in June, from 174.5p in August last year. Similarly, the price of diesel is just 145.5p compared to an eye-watering 187.1p, which drivers were paying last November. This goes to show that there are still some areas of motoring where drivers are saving money.
But just because car insurance prices are increasing, doesn’t mean that motorists have to pay more than they need to for their policies. Experts at Confused.com have identified some key ways for drivers to take a few pounds off their insurance price, without making any significant changes to the way they drive.
- Be accurate with your mileage – Generally, the more miles you drive, the more likely you are to have an accident and make a claim. This means the higher your mileage, the more you pay for your car insurance. So, driving fewer miles can be a great way to save money on your car insurance policy. But don’t assume that a low mileage always means low prices. If you barely drive at all, your insurance company could see that as a risk as well.
- Increase your voluntary excess – Increasing your voluntary excess can help you get cheaper car insurance, but you need to make sure you can afford to pay it, if you need to claim.
- Pay for your car insurance annually – If you can afford it, paying for your insurance in one go rather than monthly is one way to get cheaper car insurance. That’s because insurance companies always charge interest for spreading the cost of your cover over the year.
- Enhance your car security – The harder it is to steal your car, the less of a risk it is. This usually means cheaper car insurance. There are several ways to improve your car security including:
- Installing a Thatcham-approved car alarm or immobiliser, if it doesn’t already have one
- Adding secondary levels of security like a steering lock.
- Parking overnight in a secure, well-lit car park.
For more advice on how to reduce costs, visit Confused.com’s guide on how to get cheaper car insurance.
Louise Thomas, motor expert at Confused.com car insurance comments, “Car insurance has quickly become one of the biggest expenses for drivers. If prices continue at this rate then there’s no doubt drivers could be priced off the road, as they battle with other rising costs too.
“But what we do know is that many drivers were able to save some money when it came to renewal. And shopping around was the key to this. Even if prices were cheaper for them, the price they saw online was still significantly cheaper.
“Although this isn’t all drivers can do to save money. We always advise drivers to take a look at the details of their policy and make sure they’re accurate before committing to a price. Updating your mileage, or considering additional security could easily bring your price down.
“In the current climate we want to help drivers do all they can to make their insurance more affordable. But we know the key to this will be shopping around and seeing what the best price out there is. It’s a competitive industry and we’re confident that switching will result in savings. This is why we offer a guarantee to beat your renewal, or pay you the difference, plus £20(4). In this scenario, you don’t pay more, and you gain more cash!”