If you're wondering why your car insurance has gone up yet again, even though your car is another year older, you're another year older and you've had another year without accidents, new research might just hold the answer.
According to the newest car insurance price index, which has been compiled by industry experts EMB and insurance comparison site moneysupermarket.com, the cost of an average comprehensive car insurance policy has gone up by £177 since quarter four of 2009, from £473 to £650.
The drivers who have to pay out the most are young men aged 17 to 20, who saw their policies rise by 10.9% - adding a massive £284 to the average cost of a comprehensive policy. That means they're paying on average £2,879 for their car insurance – probably more than some of the cars are worth!
And young women don't escape the price hike either. The average cost of a comprehensive motor policy for females aged 17 to 20 has gone up to £1,490 – a rise of £147. The cost of insurance for women drivers is lower because of statistical evidence that shows that women drivers generally have less expensive and smaller accidents.
While the average cost of comprehensive motor policies may have gone up again, it is hoped that the increases may be starting to slow up. While the cost went up 8.6% from July to September, that is actually less than it had been the previous quarter, when the rise was 14.2%.
Over the past year those young drivers (aged 17-20) have seen a hike of £617 and anyone who thinks they might save money by choosing a third party fire and theft policy comes up against another barrier. The average price of these policies has gone up 54.2% since October 2009 – and 11.7% in the past quarter.
Darren Black, head of motoring at Confused.com, commented: 'Whilst it is undoubtedly more bad news for consumers, there is potentially light at the end of the tunnel with the hikes seemingly losing momentum. Once again young drivers have borne the brunt of increasing premiums, suffering across the board with rises in their age group and in the type of insurance they choose. Young male drivers continue to suffer higher premiums than their female counterparts and there have been recent calls for gender bias to be removed.'
One of the common ways around the huge financial demands on young drivers is for parents to add them to their policy – but insurance companies seem to have got wise to this and pushed up prices for anyone adding someone other than a spouse to their car insurance policy.
Women and men aged 46-50, buying an 'insurance plus one' policy have faced hikes of 60.3% and 65.6% respectively over the past year.
The AA meanwhile, has also stated that the price of car insurance has risen at its fastest rate since the AA began analysing the insurance market.
The AA's figures show that it is younger drivers – those aged 17 to 22 – who are taking most of the heat when it comes to price rises. The AA's research claims that insurance policy prices have risen by 47% for young drivers in this age group.
Insurance companies say that they are paying out more money than they are receiving, which is the reason for the price increases. In March, the EMB said that its research showed that the retail motor insurance industry said that it paid out £1.20 for every £1 received in insurance premiums.
It claimed that this was an effect of the increase in personal injury claims by no win no fee lawyers such as First4Lawyers, as well as the competitive market created by the online insurance industry. 2009 was judged to be one of the least profitable on record for the industry.
The number of uninsured drivers on the road – believed to be about 1.6million, is another reason for the rise in premiums. It is reckoned it adds another £30 on to each driver's insurance premium.
Another contributing factor is the emergence of 'cash for crash' fraudsters across the country. These groups of drivers agree to stage accidents and then share out the payout. Police have just arrested two men in London and Luton after an investigation into a 'cash for cash' fraud.
After visiting a number of addresses, officers made the arrests of men who are suspected of setting up car accidents and then submitting inflated claims to their insurance companies.
The arrests follow an investigation by the Operation Catch unit of the Metropolitan Police, which is aimed at focusing on the criminal gangs that set up car crashes with innocent drivers.
The investigation began back in July after an insurance claim from a Mercedes owner, which was hit by a truck on the A414. It emerged that the lorry's owner had a black box record installed in the vehicle and video from the camera appears to reveal two vehicles causing the crash on purpose. One car is said to swerve in front of another, which then brakes hard, causing the truck to go into the back of it.
Hundreds of motorists have bought similar 'Roadhawk' black boxes, available at www.roadhawk.co.uk, to fight back against motor insurance fraud, but this is believed to be one of the first instances of the video being used in evidence. It is believed organised gangs are targeting companies' fleet vehicles and private cars within the M25, whilst Blackburn, Liverpool and Birmingham are also said to be hotspots for the crime.
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Chalmers, from the Metropolitan Police, told Sky News: "The insurance industry is losing millions of pounds a year. A single fraudulent claim can run into tens of thousands of pounds. Gangs operating these frauds are also putting innocent road users at huge physical risk. Insurance companies are now offering big inducements to their customers to fit good technology which gathers video evidence of potential fraud."