Car insurance costs are beginning to rise, and experts predict they could return to pre-pandemic levels later this year.
The cost of insuring your car fell dramatically in 2021, but with more vehicles on the road and the number of claims increasing, consumers are now being quoted higher prices.
Here, Which? explains what's happened to insurance premiums and offers advice on getting the right deal.
Car insurance costs are rising steadily, according to the latest data from three price comparison websites.
Confused.com says prices increased by 5% in the last quarter of 2021 to reach an average of £539, the highest figure recorded in the last 12 months.
MoneySuperMarket reported a 7% rise during the same period, with fully comprehensive cover rising to an average of £444.
What's more, there are signs that these increases have continued into the new year.
Compare the Market says the average premium rose by £42 and the cheapest premium by £31 between the first and second week of this month.
Rising car insurance prices may sound like cause for concern, but these increases come off the back of a year of very low prices.
Despite the recent rises, Confused.com says the average cost of car insurance remains 6% cheaper than a year ago, while while MoneySuperMarket records a 7% drop.
Confused says the current trend suggests prices may be starting to return to pre-pandemic levels.
It puts this down to an increase in claims, and pay outs becoming more expensive for insurers in recent months. Other factors include the ongoing pandemic and delays caused by Brexit, resulting in repairs and replacements taking longer and costing more.
On 1 January, new rules came into force banning car insurers from quoting existing customers higher prices than they offer to new customers.
The abolition of the 'loyalty penalty' should make car insurance pricing fairer, but it doesn't necessarily mean it'll be cheaper to stay with your current insurer than move to another provider.
Louise O'Shea of Confused.com says: 'As claims costs continue to increase, we expect to see insurance prices rise, too - regardless of the changes brought in by the FCA.
'If anything, these changes have made the market even more competitive, so there will likely be an insurer out there that could offer a better deal for the cover you need.'
Your provider should send you a renewal quote around a month before your policy is due to expire.
Once you've got your quote, start shopping around on car insurance price comparison websites to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere.
It's also worth checking out prices from insurers that aren't on comparison websites, such as Direct Line and NFU Mutual.
Comprehensive policies won't cover every eventuality, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should pay extra for the various add-ons offered by insurers.
Common add-ons can include legal expenses insurance, personal accident cover, breakdown cover and key cover.
Paying monthly for your car insurance can help you spread the cost, but it will also cost you much more overall.
When you pay monthly, you'll effectively be taking out a loan with the provider and interest rates can be very high.
With this in mind, consider paying up-front if you can.
When you make a car insurance claim, you'll need to pay a proportion of the cost to the insurer. This is called the excess.
Excesses vary significantly, with £100, £250 and £500 among the most common options.
Choosing a higher excess might reduce your premium, but setting it too high will make claiming very costly.
If your car insurance quote is very high (for example, if you're a new driver), there are some steps you can take to reduce your premium.
Adding a more experienced driver to the policy - such as a parent - can bring your premium price down. It's important to note, however, that you shouldn't put them down as the main driver, as this can invalidate your policy.
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