Despite loyalty penalty ban, many insurance customers seeing price rises, Which? research finds

New research from Which? shows significant numbers of people are still paying more to renew their home and car insurance policies and, despite the introduction of a ban on so-called loyalty penalties, it is still necessary for consumers to be proactive at renewal by haggling and switching. 

In a survey of more than 14,000 Which? members, the consumer champion found that half (51%) of those with home insurance, and around four in 10 (43%) with car insurance, were paying a higher premium this year than they did last year. 

Out of those customers paying more, half (50%) were renewing with their current car or home insurer, while three in 10 (31%) had switched to a different provider.

Which? also found that those who haggled with their current provider or switched could still make significant savings – reinforcing that shopping around near renewal time remains vital.

In January, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) implemented new rules which banned car and home insurers from offering different prices to equivalent new and renewing customers. Previously, new customers widely benefited from discounted premiums – subsidised by the steeper prices longstanding policyholders paid. 

While the full impact of the changes is still being evaluated, a range of factors – including various rising costs for insurers due to inflation and more people driving after the pandemic – means substantial numbers of customers are seeing their prices go up.

The consumer champion’s survey analysed premiums paid by customers in the first six months of this year, after the ban came into force, compared to premiums for policies paid between May and December 2021. 

For car insurance policies bought before the end of December 2021, survey respondents paid £360 on average. For cover bought between January and June this year, after the ban came in, the average annual price was £343 – a 4.6 per cent drop. Home insurance customers saw a smaller drop in average premiums of 0.7 per cent, from £332 to £329, across the same period. 

However, while some groups of customers will have seen premiums decreasing between 2021 and 2022, half (51%) of home insurance customers and around four in 10 (43%) car insurance customers paid a higher price during the first half of this year than they had paid in 2021. The average increase was £35 for car insurance customers and £41 for home insurance customers. 

Most indicators suggest car insurance prices are now generally back on the rise. This is largely because of increasing claims costs to insurers caused by factors including increased used car prices and higher costs and delays in obtaining parts and materials for repairs.  

Meanwhile, industry data suggests that the average home insurance premium has fallen since the beginning of the year – although it has gone up for switching customers.  

When it came to haggling, a quarter (25%) of Which? survey respondents discussed their price with their insurer this year, and of those who did, around half (48%) saw a reduction in their premiums – averaging £56 for car insurance and £54 for home insurance. 

Those who switched insurers also made significant savings. Among customers that did not haggle this year, car insurance customers who switched insurer were paying £43 less, on average, than those renewing. Home insurance switchers were paying £103 less. 

The consumer champion also heard from members who found cheaper quotes with their current insurer than their renewal offer while shopping around, and in some cases were able to use this information to negotiate a discount. 

These discrepancies may be happening because the new loyalty penalty rules still allow insurers to offer customers different prices depending on the ‘channel’ used – for example, whether they go directly to the insurer or use a comparison site.

Insurance quote prices also change from day to day, so it is always worth doing some research before approaching an existing provider or considering making a switch in order to save money. 

Jenny Ross, Which? Money Editor, said: 

“With household budgets under huge strain at the moment, it’s important not to renew your insurance without first checking if you could pay less. 

“Our research shows it’s still the case that the price quoted by your insurer is not necessarily the best price you can get. Doing your research on comparison sites, haggling and switching remain effective ways of bringing down the cost of home and car insurance.”

 

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

Research

 

Which? tips on how to haggle effectively 

  • You should always check other deals on the market to know whether or not what your insurer is offering you is the best rate 
  • Have a rival’s rate and your rate to hand while on the telephone to your insurer – this should contain this year’s deal and the previous price you were paying
  • Ask the insurer four main questions: 
  1. My premium’s gone up by [£]. Would you be able to explain why it’s risen this much?’

You may or might not get a satisfactory answer. If it doesn’t involve a better premium offer:

  • ‘Can you do any better with my price?’

Some insurers may be quick to oblige, while others won’t. Ask the following to help clarify your expectations:

  • ‘I’ve researched other deals and have been able to find comparable cover for [£]. Can you offer a price that is competitive with this?’

If the insurer isn’t willing to provide an offer that you find acceptable, then you’ll need to decide whether to accept the deal or switch: 

  • ‘Thanks, but if you definitely can’t reduce the price, I’ll not be renewing my cover with you. Will I need to speak to anyone to cancel?’

In some instances, cancellation departments may be able to offer price reductions to retain your business – even if you’ve been refused a discount earlier.

About Which?

Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.

The information in this press release is for editorial use by journalists and media outlets only. Any business seeking to reproduce information in this release should contact the Which? Endorsement Scheme team at endorsementscheme@which.co.uk.

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