Car insurance rates

It’s often seen as a defining trait of the British as a race.

And to be fair, there is little point in denying it. We do love a good moan. Taxes, the weather, public transport, the NHS…

Oh and car insurance rates, in fact lately especially car insurance rates.

There is generally some plausible justification for our collective gripes even though making them seldom makes much difference, we rarely progress past the complaining stage anyway – so maybe having a little whine now and then just makes us feel better.

Whatever the case, with car insurance rates there is one thorny issue that really doesn’t look as though it is going to go away any time soon – they are on a seemingly relentless upward trend at a time when most people’s income is on a diametrically opposite one.

And this is drawing some palpable derision from an increasingly disgruntled public.

You see, the Department of Transport insists on keeping us informed of the state of our UK roads and of course that of those who travel upon them, and the figures to September 2011 seem to leave little room for doubt – the accident rate is actually falling (by four per cent last year, and this has been a trend) and so are the number of road casualties (last year by a whopping five per cent, also a trend).

So why is it that the insurance industry would have us believe in an alternate reality; in other words, why are car insurance rates, which were already far from cheap, simply continuing heavenward?

The industry’s spokespeople are somewhat glib on this point, which isn’t altogether surprising. It remains nevertheless difficult to get away from the fact that we are having to pay much higher car insurance rates in order to drive on demonstrably safer roads, while yet more government figures show that we are doing less of it.

Here’s the glib part. It seems that accident figures may be down, but claims figures have actually risen. This, experts in the insurance field argue, is because of our recently acquired ‘where there’s blame there’s a claim’ culture.

They may have a point; it is after all difficult to deny that as a society we have indeed become more litigious – but recent? Hardly.

And even if this were the case, experts in the field ought not to overlook the fact that the industry itself is making a very significant contribution to propagating that very trend. How is this?

Well, consider the bizarre practice of the paid referral. This is nothing new and it’s quite legal (if not one would have thought, a tad counterproductive for an insurance company).

The referee is basically paid a fee by the legal practice or accident management company to whom he or she refers a client.

So, in the event of an accident, your insurer obviously knows who you are, and who your co-claimant is. Your insurer also knows who is injured and the nature of those injuries. If the party is the blameless one, their details are provided to a law firm.

The referral fees generate profits and essentially involve a rival company having to stump up in compensation and possibly legal costs – which is great, until the guns turn, and they do.
Meanwhile, the moaning British public just get on with paying higher car insurance rates.

The consumer’s friends in all of this are without a doubt the online car insurance comparison sites. Competition and a united consumer base are ultimately the customers’ greatest weapons, and giving the public clear opportunity to compare policy quotes, research companies and properly examine levels of cover are the ways to negotiate discounts. Do your research and shop around.