Car insurers in a bit of a jam

Britain's motor insurance market is at its strongest since 2007 but still remains loss-making because of falling premiums, experts have claimed.

The sector, one of the most competitive in the UK, has a combined ratio of 102.6 per cent, according to the accountants EY. This means, in effect, that motor insurers are paying out 2.6p more in claims than they take in premiums.

Just one third of insurers made an underwriting profit last year and two thirds made an overall profit because of other income streams including investments. EY said profits will fall in 2013 and will be hit again by expected regulatory reforms in 2014

Catherine Barton, a partner in EY's financial services team, said: "On the face of it, the reported results for 2012 are really good ... However, as we feared, a closer look at the results reveals that the market has turned too soon."