Financial News

  • 18 December 2013, 12:31

Motor Insurance Premiums Could Be Cut

Car insurance premiums are too high, says the competition watchdog which is to look at ways of reducing them.

The Competition Commission said there could be caps on the cost of accident repairs and providing replacement vehicles for drivers.

The watchdog also said in its provisional report that too many accident repairs were not carried out to the required standard.

Deputy chairman Alasdair Smith told Sky News: "We were surprised when we did a survey of cars that had been repaired after an accident to find that of the 100 cars inspectors looked at, 45 hadn't been repaired properly."

The also commission found the way add-on insurance products were sold made it difficult for customers to find the best-value products.

It said overall the 11bn market was not working well for drivers and believed too many were footing the bill for unnecessary costs incurred during the claims process after an accident.

These costs are initially borne by the insurers of at-fault drivers, but they feed through into increased insurance premiums for all motorists.

The watchdog was also concerned about the relationship between price comparison websites and insurers.

Alasdair Smith, who is leading the investigation, said: "We are now considering a range of possible measures, some of them far-reaching reforms, to ensure that the market better serves the interests of customers."

Mr Smith said that in most cases the party managing the accident claim - typically the non-fault insurer or intermediary - was not the party liable to pay the costs of the claim.

He added: "There is insufficient incentive for insurers to keep costs down even though they are themselves on the receiving end of the problem."

The commission estimates the extra premium costs due to the separation of control and liability on replacement cars and repairs to be between 150m and 200m a year.

It is considering whether to make a driver's own insurer responsible for providing a replacement vehicle or to give at-fault insurers greater opportunity to take control over managing claims.

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