The soaring cost of car insurance is driving hard-up motorists, already struggling with rising road tax and fuel prices, to sell their vehicles.
Car insurance is now the third-biggest household bill, behind council tax and energy, according to the comparison site Confused.com.
The Independent revealed earlier this month that average premiums rocketed by 48 per cent in the 12 months to June 2023, according to exclusive data from the analyst Consumer Intelligence.
Devin Walsh is one of a growing number of drivers unsure if they can afford to keep their car, due to massive premium hikes.
Mr Walsh, 28, saw a 37 per cent jump in the insurance premium for his Ford Puma last month, rising from £46 a month to £63.
“The price rise was a massive shock,” said the freelance graphic designer. “My income is sporadic, which is why the increase concerns me so much.”
Mr Walsh, from Hemel Hempstead, London, used a comparison site to try to get a lower quote but the prices were similar so he stayed with his current insurer, 1st Central. He said he should be ok financially for the next few months as he has just taken on a “decent client”.
“But the insurance increase is making me seriously consider my options.” As a freelancer, he doesn’t need a car to commute to work – but worries if he gives up his car it would “destroy” his social life.
Michaela Bosquet Lambert, from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, has already sold her car. Her insurance rose from £296 a year to £344 in November and she was worried it would spiral much higher when it came up for renewal later this year. “My husband is semi-retired and I’m self-employed, so every penny counts,” said the 49-year-old.
Ms Bosquet Lambert, a love coach who runs yoursecondsoulmate.com, sold her Vauxhall Corsa in May, which “provided some much-needed breathing space” when other bills were also rising.
It comes as motorists are being hit with numerous mounting costs, such as road tax, fuel and for those who live or drive into London, the £12.50 daily charge if their vehicle is not compliant with the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The zone will expand to all London boroughs from 29 August.
Online marketplace Carwow told The Independent it had seen a surge in the number of cars listed for sale over the summer.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the UK’s used car market rose by 4.1 per cent during the second quarter of the year, with an additional 72,583 transactions compared with the same period in 2022.
Drivers in the capital said this was due to selling non-ULEZ-compliant vehicles, but some of it could also be down to soaring insurance premiums.
Karen Gee, who runs Cycle Sprog, the family cycling website, said she has seen more people ditching their cars. “For some families, the steep rise in insurance premiums will be the trigger for getting rid of their car. It comes on top of increased fuel and car running costs, and concerns over air pollution.”
One woman, who did not wish to be named, said she was selling her car because she couldn’t afford the insurance and the ULEZ fee. A single mother to a 15-month-old, she has now bought a baby seat to take her child on her bike instead.
Todd Bialaszewski, a mechanic and founder of Junk Car Medics, said he’s seen more and more motorists complaining about a sharp uptick in their insurance costs – despite their policies staying the same and there being no accidents.
Some drivers are “caught in a tough spot, wondering if they can afford to keep their cherished vehicles because of these financial burdens”.
Emma Parsons-Reid, from Cardiff, is another person considering selling their car. She was outraged when she received a renewal letter this month from Ageas, informing her the insurance for her Ford EcoSport was rocketing by 83 per cent, from £180 a year to £330.
The 56-year-old said: “My husband and I are discussing reducing to one car between us but I find that abhorrent as I like the freedom of my own car.”
She said she has separate hobbies from her husband and they often drive in different directions. “I help with my grandchildren, go to the gym, meet friends for lunch and do volunteer work. [Not having my own car] makes me feel like a helpless pensioner, not a fit 56-year-old!”
The retired civil servant said one of her neighbours had already sold her car due to spiralling costs. As well as the price of insurance, Ms Parsons-Reid said the cost of the MOT, servicing, road tax, fuel and paying for “tyre damage from potholes” was making her think seriously about selling her small SUV.
“I don’t understand why car insurance has gone up so much. I know there’s inflation, but it’s a wicked cycle where the customer always has to pay more,” she said.
Meanwhile, Jen Shoubridge, who runs wedding photography business Jennifer Jane Photography, is selling her VW Touareg because it’s become too expensive to run. “It now costs me £150 to fill the tank, road tax has almost doubled to £650 a year, and the insurance with 10-plus years protected no-claims is around £400, double what it was,” she said.
The 48-year-old who lives in Butterleigh, Devon, needs a car for her job, so is hoping to buy an equally reliable vehicle but with cheaper running costs: “It feels like looking for a unicorn.”
POST AUTHOR: Ruth Emery