Insurance tax rise makes shopping around vital

A new tax hike means your car and home insurance renewals are about to get more expensive - but here's what you can do to offset the additional costs...

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At MoneySuperMarket, we’ve long argued that shopping around for insurance is essential if you’re going to get the best deal at the best price.

The increase in insurance premium tax (IPT) at the beginning of November – when the standard rate will rocket from 6% to 9.5% of the premium – makes shopping around for products such as car and home insurance more important than ever.

This is because insurers offer their best prices to new customers, simply to tempt people through the door. They reckon on making their money back in subsequent years by increasing their prices when people renew.

And they often use a process called auto-renewal to increase the likelihood of a customer staying put. You can read here why we think this is such a bad practice for insurance customers.

It makes sense to become a ‘new’ customer every year by scouring the market for the best deal possible.

And with IPT shooting up by 58% in November, you need to make sure your base premium is as low as possible for the level of protection you require.

What is IPT?

- Insurance premium tax is charged on policies such as car, home, travel, pet and private medical insurance (PMI)
- Life insurance and income protection insurance are exempt from IPT
- The increase in the standard rate of IPT at the beginning of November, from 6% to 9.5%, was announced in the July summer budget
- The rise will hit car, home and PMI insurance
- Travel insurance, along with extended warranty insurance, is taxed at a higher rate of 20%
- Doom-mongers fear the next Budget might introduce a universal rate of IPT at 20%.

How will the rise affect me?

There’s nothing you can do to avoid paying IPT – and there’s very little you can do to avoid paying the higher rate of IPT if your current policy expires after 1 November.

If your policy renews before November, you’ll pay IPT at 6%.

If your policy renews after 1 November, you’ll pay 9.5%.

Even if you run a quotation now for a policy that renews next month, the premium you’re shown now will include IPT at the higher rate applicable at the point of renewal.

It’s unlikely to be worthwhile cancelling a policy that renews after 1 November in order to take out a new one in October.

You’d probably have to pay a cancellation fee – and, for car and home insurance, you’d risk invalidating any no claims discount you’d accumulated.

If I pay by instalments, will my monthly cost go up after 1 November?

No. If you’re part-way through your policy and pay by instalment, your payments after 1 November will stay the same.

It’s only policies taken out after 1 November that will attract the new, higher rate of IPT.

But what if my policy changes?

If you have to make what insurance companies call a “mid-term adjustment (MTA)” to your policy after 1 November, then any additional premium you have to pay will be taxed at the higher rate of 9.5%.

So if you moved house to an area deemed by your car or home insurer to be more risky than your old address, your premium might be increased, with the new rate of IPT being applied.

What will the increased cost be?

At the moment, for every £100 of premium, you pay £6 in tax. As of November, this will be £9.50.

On a £500 net car insurance premium, the increase would be from £30 to £47.50. Home insurance premiums tend to be lower, so a £150 combined buildings and contents premium would see the tax take go from £9 to £14.25.

It’s worth reiterating that shopping around could easily offset the increase in IPT.

We’ve found that 51% of our car insurance customers could save up to £212 by shopping around at renewal, while 51% of home insurance customers could save up to £57.

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Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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