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Car insurance prices are falling

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I was reading on BBC News Online recently that the cost of car insurance is falling at a record rate in the UK, according to the insurance arm of the AA.

Apparently, the average annual comprehensive car insurance quote fell to £594.84 in July, it said, down 9.8% from £659.53 last July - the biggest decrease since the AA insurance index began in 1994.

The AA seemed to suggest that the dip was thanks, in part, to clampdowns on fraud and restrictions on claims management companies. Despite the fall, premiums remain much higher than they were six years ago.

People may be aware that at the start of April 2013, a ban on referral fees was introduced which may be a catalyst to reducing motor insurance premiums. This is something which Motor Accident Solicitor Society (MASS) chairman, Craig Budsworth has been calling for since the changes brought about in April 2013.

It is also claimed that new gender equality laws have lowered premiums of men by far more than expected while women's premiums have remained static, according to AA Insurance's research which also suggested that fraudulent claims - especially for whiplash which is often difficult to disprove - are also down.

AA Insurance director Simon Douglas said insurers previously faced "a fast-widening gap between premium income and claims costs - largely driven by whiplash injury claims and fraud, which saw very sharp premium increases between 2009 and 2011".

"That gap is closing and premiums are falling again thanks to competition, as well as improved fraud detection by the insurance industry and tightening of the law that is beginning to curb the number of spurious new whiplash injury claims," he said.

Graeme Trudgill of the British Insurance Brokers' Association said uninsured driving costs the industry £500m, whiplash claims £2bn and fraud £1bn. But these costs were now coming down, he added, because of a concerted effort by the industry, with "discounts now feeding through to policy holders".

Previously, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) launched an investigation into insurance companies for overcharging customers when they renew their car and house policies. The FCA says automatic renewal can lead to customers being treated unfairly.

By response the insurance industry says consumers can shop around for the best prices in a competitive market.

There have been many recent changes to the litigation arena brought in on 1st April 2013 by the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012. Some of the changes could be suggested to have been arguably pushed forward by insurer lobbying on the basis that the changes would reduce insurance premiums. Based on this report if premiums are reducing then this seems to be good news for the individual motorist.

Whether premiums reduce to a level of that which was seen 6 years ago is a different matter and I will be following this story with interest.

By Barry Sutton, personal injury department