Car insurance costs soar nearly 20 per cent in 12 months

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UK motorists have been hit by a near-20 per cent rise in insurance costs in the last year, new figures show.

The average driver now pays £715 a year for fully comprehensive cover, up 19 per cent on the same time last year.

The figures were revealed by the Confused.com car insurance price index, which tracks quarterly and annual trends.

After dropping for several years from a high of £843 in 2011, insurance costs have been rising since the start of 2015. The latest figures, for the period from April to June 2016 show that costs have risen by six per cent since the start of the year and drivers are paying an average of £115 more for their insurance than they were in the same period last year.

Northern Irish drivers have been worst hit by the latest rises, seeing their premiums climb 25 per cent year-on-year. They now face an average premium of £863.

Also feeling the impact badly are motorists in parts of Scotland - the Highlands and Islands saw rises of 24 per cent and drivers in the Hebrides were hit with a staggering 42 per cent annual increase.

While younger drivers might face the highest premiums overall, they have actually escaped the worst of the rises. Drivers aged 17 saw an annual rise of just eight per cent - the lowest of any age bracket - but still face average premiums of £2,013. A the opposite end, 61-year-old drivers saw a 24 per cent rise - the highest of any age group - but still only pay £418 a year.

And the gender gap persists, with male drivers facing annual rises of 21 per cent in comparison with the 18 per cent faced by women. This continued difference means the gap between the sexes is growing as men pay an average of £92 a year more - up from £27 in 2013.

Confused’s motoring editor, Amanda Stretton, said: “We’ve not seen price rises of this magnitude for five years - a 19 per cent annual increase is substantial to say the least. And these price rises are being felt across the board, for drivers of all ages and genders, across all UK regions.

“If prices continues to rise at the rate we’ve been seeing, we could be facing the possibility of average comprehensive premiums reaching a high not seen since 2011. This, combined with rising fuel prices and increased motoring costs across the board, could result in a sizeable dent in drivers’ pockets.”