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CAR WARS; How hikes in insurance are forcing drivers off the road.

Byline: KEVAN REILLY

DRIVERS are facing yet more increases in insurance premiums. Brokers predict average annual rises next year of up to eight per cent.

That will add nearly pounds 1.5billion to the pounds 18.4billion a year British motorists already spend on insurance.

Average comprehensive insurance premiums are now pounds 676 a year, according to the AA, and non-comprehensive premiums are pounds 799.86.

The AA reckons insurance premium rises are slowing. In 2001 the average rise was 13 per cent. The relatively mild winter this year and fewer accidents have meant fewer claims.

That has eased the pressure on premiums but rises are still way above inflation.

And they are increasing across the country. More than half the drivers in England have seen their premiums go up in the past year, according to Egg.

Only in Scotland have drivers escaped, where just one in three motorists have seen premiums rise in the past year.

It's enough to force some drivers off the road, as marketing assistant Elanor Savage found.

The 22-year-old has recently moved to London after living at her parents' home in Hertfordshire following her graduation from Durham University.

She managed to run a Renault Clio and pay insurance during her time in Durham and in Hertfordshire.

But moving to London has finally forced her to give up because insurance premiums are too high.

Previously she was paying pounds 300 a year. Now it's around pounds 700.

"The premiums are sky high and I just cannot afford them.

"I don't have a garage or off-street parking so I have to park on the street and that adds to the premium.

"In all the time I have been driving I have never made any claims so that's not the reason for the increase. "I would love to buy another car but I will have to wait until the premiums go down or I get a pay rise," says Elanor.

Elanor no longer drives but plenty of other drivers take to the roads without insurance.

In some parts of the country it's reckoned to be as many as one in 10 motorists driving without insurance.

The Motor Insurers' Bureau, which compensates drivers in accidents with uninsured motorists, reckons between pounds 20 and pounds 30 is added to every car premium by uninsured drivers.

Shopping around can help drivers to cut insurance premiums.

And there's also the prospect of an insurance premium price war as Egg attacks the market.

The online bank is promising to beat any premium renewal quote.

And customers signing up will then have their premium frozen for two years if they don't have any accidents.

Research for the firm shows that nine out of 10 drivers haven't made claims in the past year but have still seen premiums increased.

Motorists can apply by calling 0870 024 0095 or by going online at www.egg.com.

CAPTION(S):

CLIO CUT: Elanor's car had to go; CAPITAL LOSS: Now she lives in London, Elanor must take the bus Picture: SAM BARCROFT
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 18, 2002
Words:504
Previous Article:Money Q&A.
Next Article:Sainsbury's Bank research.


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