Fraud and 'ambulance chasers' send car insurance premiums soaring

Caroline Cassidy

As if rising petrol prices weren't bad enough, motorists look set to suffer further as car insurance premiums break the £1,000-a-year barrier.

Car insurance premiums soar
Car insurance premiums soar

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The AA has today warned that premiums, which have risen by a record 40 per cent in the last year, could increase by a further 20 per cent in 2011.

According to the AA , that could take the annual premium for fully comprehensive cover to £1,070 for many, making driving simply "unaffordable".

Increased levels of fraud, including "cash for crash" accidents (which added an estimated £39 to the average policy), and claims made thanks to ambulance-chasing lawyers with their "no win, no fee" offers, have been blamed for the rise in premiums.

Add to that the cash-for-contacts "black market" trade, which involves selling the personal details of accident victims to lawyers and accident management companies, and it's easy to see why insurance companies are taking action.

Young drivers are, as usual, the worst hit and an astonishing 82.1 per cent rise in third party, fire and theft cover means insuring a car as a youngster has become almost prohibitively expensive.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, told the Daily Mail: "The record rises in fuel costs coupled with spiralling car insurance premiums is disappointing news and is making driving unaffordable for many, especially cash-strapped young drivers."

Meanwhile the Association of British Insurers warns that things will only get worse unless something is done about soaring numbers of personal injury claims.

Nick Starling, direct of general insurance and health at the ABI, said: "The Government's recently announced plans to reform civil litigation will go a long way to cutting out unnecessary and disproportionate legal costs and should lead to cheaper motor insurance in the future.

"What we now need is a ban on referral fees - where details of potential personal injury claimants are sold on to solicitors and claims management firms."

What do you think? Are you struggling to pay the price of motoring and would you consider doing away with the car altogether? Leave a comment below...