Motor Insurance

Skyrocketing car insurance renewals frustrate drivers - see affected brands

Car insurance renewal premiums have skyrocketed for many frustrated drivers who complain about exorbitant price hikes of more than 100% during policy renewals.

Despite a decrease in fuel prices from the previous year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that car insurance costs have surged by 43.1% over the past 12 months, presenting a new financial burden for households.

The official data, however, may not capture the full extent of the issue. According to The Guardian, Direct Line and Saga customers are amongst those shocked to discover significant price increases in their renewal documents, surpassing the figures reported by the industry.

We looked at some customer reviews of Direct Line on the Trustpilot website and found that their rating has dropped from 4.1 out of 5 stars last year to 3.8 this year. This is due to many customers rating Direct Line with just one or two stars for massive price rises at renewal. Customers stated that their renewal prices rose significantly despite no changes in circumstances (e.g. the same car, same home address, no accidents or claims, etc.).

Here is a sample of customer reviews related to renewal premium hikes—these comments were all left in the past 24 hours alone:

"Not even bothered to discuss ways to lower price I have been with Direct Car insurance for many years. Then I received in April 2023 a massive increase in car insurance. Even after phoning staff (direct line) were not even bothered about lowering the price (even by finding inventive ways to reduce the price). Even after emails to 'Customer Relations' they could not think of ways to lower the cost. Anyway, this outcome has meant I left Direct Line - and got a better offer with another insurance company. Seems to me Direct line have got some staff and systems problems. The one star is for their: (a) computerised systems, (b) staff and (c) its 'Customer Relations', inability to bother to help, or think to find ways to (even by a few pounds) lower costs. Other competitors found a lower price approach. Very sad times for Direct Line ahead."

"Our insurance went up from just over £400 to over £1000. We had one accident that was not our fault and was resolved quickly with the other driver accepting responsibility. Really slow service and took nearly three weeks to look at our car. Still waiting for money more than 6 weeks later. Constant chasing and little information. Poor."

"Shop around - there are cheaper alternatives from reputable providers Long-time customer, who is now shopping around for new car insurance after the renewal cost has shot up from £300, to £400 - no real reason given other than 'rising costs. Same car, just a year older, and I've never been involved in an incident or made a claim. Looks like you'll be losing a lot of customers this year, DL! Which is a huge shame."

"DIRECT LINE Ripp off When I received my Direct Line renewal notice for my car insurance, I couldn't get back up off the floor, what a laugh their having at everyone else's expense. It shot up by 50.2% to just under £700.00 Stupidly in the past, I have accepted their increases because I couldn't be bothered with the hassle. Not this time, it's a complete rip off in my opinion and all they could come up with was "more people had claimed on their insurance and this years price was calculated on that basis" I have been with them for approx 10 years, and loyalty with a large corporate enterprise does not stick these days, you are just a number not a valued existing customer. Will not be back! Arranged insurance with another provider for hundreds less."

"If I could give zero I would. My car insurance renewal came up. I have had no accidents, no claims, no fines, no speeding tickets in other words a clean driving record. I also qualified for an additional years no claim for the last claim free year. This year, at renewal time, at worst I expected the premium to be the same as last year because I know how insurance companies like to make as much as they can. Instead, my premium quote from them (I have been a customer with a clean record with them for years) increased from £436 to £716. They couldn't tell me why. Because there was no reason why other than greed. I have now purchased car insurance elsewhere for £416 and I will be changing my house insurance away from Direct Line when it comes up for renewal."

"Like most people stupidly high renewal… Like most people stupidly high renewal quote with no change in circumstances. No explanation why it had gone up v lazy to not bother explaining as they must have known people would be wondering why. what do they expect is the reaction from customers. Awful when u try and call them they have hard nosed abrasive reaction which they have obviously been told to adopt. Awful management of a business and customer relations. Shop around and don't go back. Direct line should understand that once you lose customers they are unlikely to return. Typical British customer service as they know there is so many customers in this overpopulated island they will just get business from elsewhere. Press articles now also saying the same particularly about Direct Line."

We've seen similar customer reports for Saga:

"I’ve had motor insurance with Saga for some time. I’m 73, drive an average or below average mileage each year. With my wife We’ve been on Sage holidays and she has some shares in the company. In short, I would have though we were completely core customers, until I got this year’s motor insurance renewal. So loyal customers, never made a claim, take holidays with them, got shares in the company. Renewal quote was 30% increase. Hey, inflation at the time was 10% and I wouldn’t have quibbled, so I phoned them and was passed higher up. Basically it was a token discount. 'Take it or leave it, mate' I left it! Let’s call these money grabbers out! My income has not increased by 30% but probably so of there’s has. Unsurprisingly the same cover was available elsewhere at the same price as last year. Two customers unlikely to return to a company that shows no loyalty. Hugely disappointed!"

Why is this happening?

Insurers are grappling with additional costs that are increasingly difficult to absorb, such as higher prices for car parts, like microchips and semiconductors. Plus, with car parts being on backorder and taking longer to arrive, insurers are having to pay more for courtesy cars.

What can you do?

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) quarterly motor insurance premium tracker revealed an average price of £478 paid for motor insurance in the first quarter of 2023. This amount represents a 16% increase compared to the previous year.

But it seems that some motorists are needing to look beyond their current insurer to find an affordable policy (e.g. a policy with a moderate premium increase in line with market stats). Luckily, customers unhappy with their renewal quotes have the option to seek coverage from other providers—it's always been important to comparison shop before buying, but these days this is especially true.

And we can try to help, too. If your policy is up for renewal in the next few weeks, compare quotes for your circumstance below. If your renewal date is further away, you can also tell us your renewal date and we'll remind you to compare quotes before your policy auto renews.

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Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the Founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.


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