January 15, 2019 / 12:04 AM / 3 months ago

UK car insurance premiums fall 6 percent in 2018 - survey

Jan 15 (Reuters) - The cost of a comprehensive motor insurance policy fell 6 percent in Britain in 2018, according to a survey, which indicated potential trade barriers brought on by the country's looming exit from the European Union would hurt prices in 2019.

Prices in 2018 were pushed down by changes in the Ogden rate, used to calculate compensation for personal injuries, and the Civil Liability Bill, which includes reforms likely to reduce claims for whiplash injuries.

Whiplash is a form of neck injury caused by a sudden jolt that snaps the head backwards but insurers argue that many claims in such cases are fraudulent. (reut.rs/2TQ4sBY)

The average premium for a comprehensive policy is now 774 pounds ($995.60), according to the latest index from price comparison site Confused.com, compiled by insurance advisory company Willis Towers Watson Plc.

The index, based on enquiries submitted to insurer Admiral Group's Confused.com, found that the final quarter of 2018 saw prices rise by an average of 2 percent, following an increase of 1 percent the previous quarter.

" ... Recent price rises reflect the intense pressure on margins being experienced by insurers due to repair cost and claims inflation, which are likely to be further impacted by Brexit developments," said Stephen Jones, UK head of P&C pricing, claims, product and underwriting at Willis Towers Watson.

Companies such as Admiral, RSA Insurance Group Plc, Direct Line Insurance Group Plc, esure and Hastings Group Holdings Plc provide motor insurance for Britain's highly competitive insurance sector.

"Low interest rates and intense competition will continue to impact premiums in 2019, with insurers facing the additional risk of a significant rise in the cost of repairs and imported car parts due to exchange rate movements, new tariffs or other potential Brexit-related trade barriers," Jones added.

($1 = 0.7774 pounds)

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Samantha Machado in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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