Proof that it is always a struggle to second-guess the insurance market: home and contents premiums are going down

Oliver Gill
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Flooding Continues To Affect People's Lives On The Somerset Levels
The flooding last winter was a one in a hundred year event (Source: Getty)

It feels like only yesterday that we were treated to pictures of politicians wondering around looking rather uncomfortable in wellies and anoraks as they looked concerned at swollen rivers, flooded houses, football pitches and farmland.

That prompted the launch of reinsurance scheme Flood Re and also gave George Osborne a good reason to put a further 0.5 per cent on the rate of insurance premium tax (IPT).

Many would expect the knock-on effect to be a hike in the average premiums paid for home and contents insurance.

However, actually prices are getting lower according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

At the end of June 2016, the average premium paid for combined buildings and contents cover stood at £309, down by £1 from the previous quarter and £2 down compared to the same point in 2015 – the data included the increase in IPT.

Read more: Your quick guide to Flood Re

The ABI data is slightly lower than recent data released by the AA that suggested that there had been a 1.4 per cent increase in home insurance over the three months to June 2016.

The broadly flat (if not decreasing) data is due two key reasons according to the ABI.

“Insurers plan for the long term to take into account any significant events that may require them to pay a large value of claims," said Mark Shepherd of ABI.

Secondly Shepherd said that a softer re-insurance market – where insurers insure themselves against large losses – meant it was possible for more aggressive pricing.

"Currently, there is a relatively soft insurance market, which means that insurers are generally well capitalised and can reinsure themselves at more competitive rates. This allows insurers to chase growth by competing more aggressively for business, which can mean that premiums are lower than otherwise,” he said.

Gary Anker of the website added that prices could be even lower if more people renegotiated their annual premiums.

"Many people are being over-priced by virtue of allowing their policies to auto-renew," he said.

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