The average car insurance premium in the UK for comprehensive cover costs £484 a year, according to Association of British Insurers (ABI) data for the second quarter of 2017. That is the equivalent of £40.33 a month.
Read our guide to the 10 best car insurance companies, where you can compare quality cover.
The ABI says premiums have risen 4.9% on the third quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2017, and as of July are 11% higher than they were this time last year.
That's an increase four times the rate of inflation, or a total average increase of £48. It's the biggest increase ABI has seen since it started tracking in 2012.
The ABI uses data from a number of insurers but other organisations give different answers. MoneySuperMarket says the average cost of annual car insurance from March - May 2016 was £470 and Confused.com says it was £847 in the second quarter of 2017.
However, they all agree that costs have risen in the past few years. This is due to a number of factors, but includes the increase in insurance premium tax from 10% to 12%. This happened on 1 June.
MoneySuperMarket says prices soared 22.6% in the past two years and the ABI calculates today’s prices are the highest ever. Previously, the highest average was in 2012, when the average price stood at £443. Confused.com says that prices have increased by 8% in the past quarter on average, equivalent to £66.
Recent research from Comparethemarket.com suggests that the average policy in June 2017 is £800. This is an increase of 14% on 2016, and £200 more expensive than in June 2015, and is partly due to a rise in tax on premiums from 10% to 12%.
Each company works out its average premium in a different way. This accounts for the discrepancy in figures.
It is possible to pay less than the average premium. Car insurance costs are calculated using three core factors: the car you drive, your driving experience and age, and your claims history.
We’ll look at each of these below.
Factors that affect car insurance premiums
The car you drive
Insurers set a premium based on a driver’s ‘risk’. This is the probability they will need to make a claim.
Insurance firms work out your risk using the information you give them when you get a quote. There are many factors involved in this calculation but a key one is the kind of car you drive.
The make, model, age, security, value and size of your car all affect the price of your insurance.
Some of the factors influence the chance of a claim and others the cost of a claim.
For example, sports cars are more likely to be involved in accidents so they are seen as a higher risk. And repairing a powerful car is likely to be a long and expensive process, which also adds to the cost of a premium.
Brand new cars may be mass produced and have top-of-the-range safety and security features but they have a high value when they’ve just left the dealership and will cost a lot to replace.
The cheapest cars to insure are ‘group 1’ cars. The insurance industry uses 50 groups to set pricing levels.
You can see a list of group 1 cars here. It is made up of smaller vehicles such as the Vauxhall Corsa and Seat Mii.
Group 2 cars are the second cheapest, so if you want to keep insurance costs down it’s worth checking out the models on the group 1 and 2 lists.
Cars with particularly powerful engine sizes, old or rare cars are likely to have higher insurance premiums and you may even need to buy specialist cover.
Read our guide to the best car insurers here.
At present there aren’t many stats available for the average cost of insurance for Tesla electric cars in the UK. However, anecdotal quotes on a Tesla forum range from £250 to £1,200 for a Tesla Model S.
Your driving experience and age
Most young drivers have experienced the pain of trying to get a reasonable insurance quote. Data does show that young drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents; unfortunately, that means insurers tar all young people with the same brush.
Premiums are usually high for people around 17 and 18 years old because they haven’t had the same time as older drivers to prove they are safe behind the wheel.
Check out our guide to the 10 best car insurance companies for young drivers.
The more experience you have, the cheaper your car insurance premium. That is why people aged between 40 and 70 with no claims are likely to be able to get the cheapest quotes. After 70 prices tend to rise because people’s reaction times slow with age.
Young drivers do have options to lower their premiums. Insurers will take into account advanced driving courses when calculating a quote and black box policies can bring down premiums even more.
Black box insurance involves fitting a small device to the car that tracks the owner’s driving, giving them a rating based on things like how well they brake, accelerate and corner. The driving score can then be used calculate a lower premium or reward customers with discounts.
We’ve ranked the best black car insurance policies here.
Young people can also be listed as a named driver on a more experienced person’s car. This is what learner drivers have to do, although there are separate policies created for them by companies like Marmalade. It will cost a little to add a driver to a policy but not as much as getting them a separate policy.
Insurance costs should noticeably drop when a driver reaches around 21 years old, as long as they haven’t been involved in an accident.
History of claims
Insurers use data on previous claims to calculate your premium.
Customers can also build up a no claims bonus (NCB), which is based on the accumulative years they have not made a claim. Insurers offer discounts relating to a customer’s NCB, which vary from company to company.
The Co-op offers a 70% discount for five years or more without claims.
Unsurprisingly, if a driver makes a claim their insurer is likely to increase their premium because they believe there is a greater chance of them make subsequent claims.
However, it’s difficult to say how much car insurance goes up after a claim. If a driver is not at fault their no claims bonus may be protected.
It’s also possible to buy NCB protection as an add-on to car insurance. NCB protection allows a certain number of ‘at fault’ accidents without affecting your bonus. It doesn’t make you immune to price hikes after a claim because insurers use previous claims to calculate your premium before discounting your bonus.
Price increases after a claim can be small but will depend on a number of factors such as who was at fault and the amount of damage caused.
If you claimed more than 5 years ago you may not be required to disclose it to an insurer.
How much does it cost to add business use to car insurance?
Adding business use to your car insurance can cost as little as £20 to £50. However, this will vary depending on some of the factors discussed above such as your age; how you use your car in relation to your business; and whether you require a full policy or an add-on to your regular insurance.
More Than says its company car insurance starts at £545 per year. It offers comprehensive and third party, fire and theft cover. This is a full insurance policy, rather than an add-on. This figure is based on 10% of new quotes between September 2016 and March 2017.
To add business use to your car, you'll need to ring your insurer to ask them about it.
Get a quote with More Than for business car insurance.
You may be able to get reimbursed by your employer if you're using your own vehicle for commercial use.
You'll need to insure your car for business use if you use your car as part of your job, whether that be travelling to different offices or visiting clients. This is different from company car insurance. Insurance for company cars is often covered by the company that owns the car.
It's important not to get caught out with normal car insurance. A regular policy will generally only cover you for commuting to a single place of work. This means other things, like travelling to a training course, going to the bank for your company or attending company away days, may not be covered under a regular, private car insurance policy.
There are a couple different options when it comes to business use. Normal business use includes driving to different sites or offices and going to meetings away from your normal work destination.
Commercial travelling cover will insure you for things like delivering goods or doing door-to-door sales.
Insurance companies may offer different levels of cover, so make sure you check you're not buying too little or too much cover for your needs.
Other car insurance costs
There are other car insurance costs that can crop up, such as charges to cancel a policy. How much it costs to cancel car insurance will depend on when you cancel and the terms and conditions of your policy.
If you change your mind within the first 14 days of your policy you’re protected under the UK’s cooling off period, although you may still have to pay for the days of cover you received and an admin fee.
After the first two weeks the cancellation fee may be higher and you might not get a full refund.
Breakdown cover is a separate policy to car insurance but many insurance providers offer it for an additional cost. It’s worth shopping around because the breakdown cover insurers offer is often provided by separate companies who may be cheaper.
See our list of the 13 best breakdown providers.
Rental cars usually include car insurance in the hire costs.
Caravans may need separate insurance policies. We’ve written a guide to touring and static caravan cover here.
It is possible that the Brexit vote for the UK to leave the European Union could impact insurance costs. EU rules put a stop to gender being used to calculate insurance quotes. However, women are statistically safer drivers than men so when we leave the EU it could mean that insurers will be allowed to offer women cheaper premiums. Watch this space.
How the average costs of car insurance are calculated
ABI – Average: £484 a year – The first answer we give is from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the trade body for insurers that was formed in 1985 and has over 250 member companies, accounting for over 90% of the UK insurance market.
It collects stats on quotes and claims from members and says its data “offers the most comprehensive coverage” of the market.
Its motor statistics cover quarterly and annual premiums, claims, distribution and fraud.
Headline figures such as the average cost of insurance are published on its site for free but you have to pay for more detailed information.
With such a large volume of data, the ABI’s average should offer a good picture of the price of insurance. However, the average is likely to include all types of policies for all age groups so it can be difficult to apply it to individual circumstances.
MoneySuperMarket – Average: £470 a year – MoneySuperMarket’s average is close to ABI’s so it’s fair to assume it also covers all types of car insurance and all drivers. It says its figure comes from “MoneySuperMarket data” for March to May 2016.
Because it acts as a comparison site for dozens of insurers it is likely to have a lot of information about quotes for UK consumers. However, it’s worth noting that not all insurers appear on their site. For example, Direct Line does not feature on comparison sites.
MoneySuperMarket says prices jumped 11.8% in 2016 compared with 2015 and compared with 2014 the change is even more significant. The average cost in spring 2014 was £390 so prices have soared 22.6% since then.
Confused.com – Average: £847 a year – Confused’s average is much higher than the others we looked at. It only provides figures for comprehensive car insurance, which may explain the difference.
The figure is part of its Car Insurance Price Index, which began in 2006 and is the most comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing in the UK, according to Confused. It is published every three months and looks at more than four million car insurance quotes, presumably generated on Confused.com.
The index is useful because it breaks down the data by categories such as age, gender and location. For example, its most recent study says a 17-year-old pays £2,292 on average for comprehensive cover and a 68-year-old pays £551. It also says prices have increased £132 on average year on year.