Rise - and fall - of motor insurance

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The Independent Online

But drivers younger than 25 have seen premiums leap by more than 26 per cent during the same period, with their average annual bill now £1,078.77, compared with £851.83 in April. Motorists older than 50 have fared the best during the past few months, with premiums falling on average by 11.1 per cent.

Although average premiums are rising, the cheapest rates in the market have stayed at a similar level, increasing the benefits of shopping around for motor insurance. Recent research by Sainsbury's showed that more than five million motorists only obtain one quote when looking to renew their cover.

Joanne Mallon, Sainsbury's car insurance manager, said: "Insuring your car equates to around 22 per cent of the total annual cost of driving, but by shopping around it is one of the easiest expenses to cut. Some motorists, such as the over 50s and female drivers, could find that premiums have fallen recently, so a little shopping around could save them even more."

Meanwhile, a new motor insurance brand from the founder of esure, Peter Wood, will be launched today, joining the growing number of insurers to target women drivers.

Called Sheila's Wheels, the insurer claims it will stand apart from other companies, due to its focus on providing customer service and cover tailored specifically to women. As well as £200 regular personal possessions cover, customers will receive £300 handbag cover.

Sheila's Wheels also claims to train its mechanics to be "women-friendly", and offers a 24-hour counselling line for victims of car theft or vandalism.

Mr Wood said: "This is a market that is growing rapidly and ripe for a major shake-up. Prices are not what they should be for women, given their proven superiority in terms of safety and responsibility behind the wheel."

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