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Daily News Round upBack

Ivan intro app digs up new business for car dealers


Sociosciences has developed a free to download app, fronted by Ivan the mole, which scouts Twitter for key phrases to help generate business leads.

Ivan_intro is powered by response technology which mines Twitter for key phrases in conversations or mentions relevant to car dealers. The app then automatically sends a personalised response from the user with contact details.

The user-friendly app, which is free to download for both Apple IOS and Android OS devices, comes pre-loaded with over 150 trades and occupations, and can be set up in six easy steps. Once installed and set up, the app works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, generating leads for people’s businesses.

Ivan_intro also allows users to set a radius of up to 20 miles, keeping its mining of introductions very local. The app comes pre-loaded with five free responses. The user can set up a reply to leads unearthed by Ivan. Users can use an in-app top-up to buy more responses if required.

The app currently works with Twitter’s 15+ million active users, but its creators, Sociosciences, intends to include users of other social media, including Instagram and Facebook.

Stuart Burn Sociosciences director said: “Ivan never sleeps. He works 24/7, leaving you free to work, relax and sleep while he digs up business leads for you. Our innovative technology means Ivan only sends a response to those who have mentioned they need help, so when the mobile rings you know it’s someone who wants your services.

“The app is free to download, so it’s a no-brainer to give it a go and see if it can transform your business. Ivan is a very clever mole to have on your side.”

Professor Paul Morrissey Technology entrepreneur said: “This app will revolutionise the way small businesses and tradespeople find new leads. There’s nothing in the marketplace currently providing this level of service and automation.”

The app is free to download here from August 3.


Kia targets fleet to achieve growth ambitions

Kia is looking for a surge in fleet registrations to underpin ambitions to turn the South Korean brand into a major force on the UK new car market.

Annual corporate volume rose to almost 36,000 units last year for a 3% share of the sector, but further growth in company transport will be a vital to ambitions to achieving more than 100,000 sales by the end of the decade, believes Kia Motors UK head of fleet and remarketing John Hargreaves (pictured).

“Careful management has been crucial to lifting our fleet share from 1.5% over the last four years,” said Hargreaves. “I’m not planning to make any changes.

“We will attain further substantial growth without forcing product into the marketplace.”

He continued: “Growth is easy if you do deals with major rental firms but our policy is to keep a strict cap of 10% on rental volumes.

“Total sales this year are set to be 80,000, so we will limit ourselves to 8,000 rental units.

“Motability business is also controlled – this is a good channel, but it comes at high cost and we never intend to punch above our weight in this area, so these sales are maintained at less than the 3.5% level of our total retail share.”

Hargreaves claimed increasing product desirability was underpinning the rising number of Kia’s corporate sales. “We are accessing big fleets with user chooser policies or restricted badge policies because people are now actively considering the brand,” he said.

“But the other reason behind our growth is when cost of ownership is a prime consideration – customers are finding that Kia stacks up well in terms of RVs, maintenance and wholelife costs.

”We have a competitive position and are looking forward to the facelift Ceed range, which will offer some significant improvements when it reaches the market later this year, and the new Sportage, which will arrive early next year. This is our biggest seller and has phenomenal residuals.”

He concluded: “There’s no need for us to throw cars at the market – this kind of new product will allow us to get to where we want with sustained and controlled business.”


Rapleys points to polarised dealer property market

The UK is seeing the emergence of an increasingly polarised market in the property market.

That’s the view of property consultant Rapleys which sees a growing divide between some of the biggest dealer developments currently under construction and the growing number of pop-up businesses.

“In the last few years we have seen an emerging trend of polarisation in the automotive sector,” said Rapleys senior associate Dan Cook.

“On the one hand brands such as Kia, Audi and VW have opened very large and expensive multi storey dealerships in prime locations such as on the M4 at Brentford.

“And on the other hand, many dealers have followed the European model of opening pop-up stores in shopping centres, including in the last 12 months,” he said.

Recent pop-ups in the UK include:

  • Mercedes-Benz Retail at the Bullring in Birmingham
  • Audi at Westfield in Stratford
  • Infiniti at Westfield in Stratford
  • Tesla at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol
  • Rockarand Hyundai at Bluewater in Kent

Cook said as the internet continued to play a prominent role in car sales, the trend for convenience was set to continue. But at the other end of the scale were the large flagship dealerships being constructed.

“The scale the investment by manufacturers and dealer groups shows no sign of abating with a number of new dealerships either opening or being announced in the last three months,” said Cook.

Rapleys cited a number of major developments:

  • Norton Way Group’s 41,000sq ftKia dealership in Brentford in August
  • Pendragon’s new BMW and Mini facility in Leeds
  • Cotswold Motor Group’s new BMW dealership in Shrewsbury
  • Glyn Hopkin’s Nissan dealerships in Cambridge and East London


Warranties outdo service plans for customer retention

Carmaker warranties are 10 times more likely than service plans to encourage new car buyers back to the franchised workshop.

That’s the conclusion of the Castrol Professional Car Servicing & Repair Trend Tracker report carried out in 2014 with 17,500 British car owners.

When asked why they had chosen a franchised dealership for servicing work, 68.5% of interviewees with cars currently covered by a manufacturer warranty highlighted the warranty as the primary reason.

A total of 12.3% claimed franchised workshops’ expertise and competence were the main reason, while 6.3% named service plans as the main reason for returning to the franchised workshop.

Trend Tracker analyst Chris Oakham said: “This latest research suggests that franchised workshops are in an increasingly strong position as new car sales have recovered and continue to rise. With the increased number of newer cars on UK roads, franchised workshops can reasonably expect to attract a great deal of highly-profitable servicing and maintenance work for those cars still under warranty.

“While new car buyers are no longer legally tied to a franchised dealership for the sake of the manufacturer’s warranty, the data highlights the undeniable benefit of a strong manufacturer warranty as a key driver behind aftersales retention. Service plans are important, but these findings highlight the importance that buyers place on manufacturer-backed servicing.”

The data suggests, however, that dealers are vulnerable once the manufacturer warranty expires on their customers’ cars.

The report suggested that the average age of cars entering franchised workshops for servicing and maintenance work was 4.3 years, just 0.3 years higher than in 1996.

The Castrol Professional sponsored report highlights a major potential growth opportunity for franchised workshops.

Franchised dealerships are increasingly relying on used car sales to improve their bottom line, with 34% of second-hand cars purchased from franchised dealerships for the rolling period from 2012 to 2014, up from just 23% from 2006 to 2008.

For dealerships, major aftersales growth could result from a concerted effort to attract these second-hand car buyers back to the workshop for servicing.

The full report will be published later this year.


ICDP survey identifies new car buying trends

Manufacturer websites are the first port of call for customers researching a new car purchase, according to new research from the International Car Distribution Programme, the independent automotive research company.

The DataPort Consumer Survey research also found that new car buyers make 3.2 visits to 2.4 dealers during the buying process, while 85% of new car buyers conduct online research before visiting a dealership.

The research, which polled customer views on new car sales and aftersales experiences, is based on data collected from 2,100 respondents in the UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain.

ICDP also found that 45% of buyers only looked at a single brand and less than half of all buyers were prepared to drive more than 30 minutes to a sales point.

Respondents were asked about their dealership experiences with the research showing just 60% took a test drive, down from 80% in 2012 and dealership staff and processes are the most important influence on the buying decision, compared to the product or premises.

“Our successive surveys into both new car buying and aftersales highlight the rapid changes that are happening in consumer behaviour. Digitalisation is obviously a big theme, with the majority of customers conducting some form of online research before buying a new car or taking their vehicle for a service or repair,” said ICDP researcher Gareth Arnould.

“But at the same time customers show inconsistent attitudes towards physical outlets; the number of dealer visits have remained steady over recent years, whilst willingness to drive is decreasing and at the dealership the people and process factors are more important than physical appearance or standards.

“All this results in customers wanting dense networks of physical outlets, which is in direct conflict with a requirement to reduce networks to maintain dealer profitability. Luckily, customers generally appear open to new formats, such as pop-up stores, which can provide network coverage in place of traditional dealerships, thus allowing network reductions whilst still maintaining the customer requirement for touchpoints.”

When it comes to aftersales ICDP found 20% of customers do not have a service plan, although just 4% were offered a service plan at their most recent workshop visit.

ICDP said habit is the primary reason for picking the garage they used, followed by proximity to home or work and recommendations by friends or relatives. Less than a quarter of customers said they would go to a workshop they have had no previous interaction with.

Just 30% of aftersales customers would drive 30 minutes or more to a workshop, while 56% went online to conduct research, with parts being the most researched topic.

On average aftersales customers book appointments four days before the workshop visit, although this averaged five days for UK customers.

Click here for details on how to buy and download the full report.

Key findings

New car buyers

  • 85% of new car buyers conduct pre-visit online research
  • Manufacturer websites were the first port of call for 66%
  • Buyers make 3.2 visits to 2.4 dealers
  • 45% of buyers only looked at a single brand
  • Over half of buyers have had no previous interaction with the dealer they bought from
  • Less than half of buyers were prepared to drive more than 30 minutes to a sales point
  • Just 60% took a test drive, down from 80% in 2012

Aftersales customers

  • Less than a quarter of people go to a workshop they have had no previous interaction with
  • Habit is the primary reason for picking the garage they used, followed by proximity to
  • home or work and recommendations by friends or relatives
  • 30% of aftersales customers would drive 30 minutes or more for an aftersales
  • experience
  • 56% went online to conduct research, with parts being the most researched topic
  • On average aftersales customers book the appointment four days before the workshop visit (five days in the UK)
  • 20% of aftersales customers don’t have a service plan but would be willing to purchase one (just 4% were offered a service plan at their most recent visit)


Hackney council installs three rapid electric vehicle charging points

Hackney Council has installed three publically-available 50kw electric charging points within the borough. It claimed the units are London’s first rapid on-street electric points.

Vehicles will fully charge within 30 minutes, the council said. Three quarters of funding for the charging points came from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles department, while the remaining 25% was covered by Transport for London.

The initial registration fee for the rapid charging units is £20. After the first year, there is an annual administration fee of £20 which is automatically deducted from users’ accounts each year.

The charging points are located in Bentley Road in Dalston, Calvert Avenue in Shoreditch and Reading Lane in Hackey Central. The charging points are suitable for all electric vehicles.

“The council is committed to improving air quality in the borough, including supporting the development of electric vehicles both locally and across London,” said councilor Feryal Demirci, cabinet member for neighborhoods and sustainability, Hackney council. “We hope this network will make charging more accessible, efficient and practical, in particular enabling electric taxis and private hire vehicles, as well as other commercial vehicles such as those used by courier companies, to recharge during the working day.”


Bosch aims to inspire female engineers with motorsport and mentoring

More than 3,000 of the world’s most promising future engineers took to Silverstone on July 9 for the annual Formula Student competition, an event which Bosch sponsored for the eighth year running. Around 10% of Formula Student competitors were female, reflecting industry’s continuing efforts to increase the number of women in engineering.

By 2020, Bosch wants 20% of its worldwide leadership roles to be occupied by women, up from its current level of 12%. To provide women with assistance and support on their career paths, Bosch Group offers special mentoring programs, networks, seminars, and training courses. In total, Bosch invests £135 million each year in further training and development.

To support female students looking to break into the industry, the Bosch IngA3 mentoring programme supports women currently studying for technical degrees. The initiative gives female undergraduates academic and practical advice, including which courses to undertake and how to gain work experience.

It is no secret that women are still underrepresented in engineering and it is important that technology companies such as Bosch play their part in nurturing the new talent needed in order to secure the future of our business. Bosch is actively working to redress this balance within the company and believes supporting activities like Formula Student and the IngA3 mentoring scheme will play an important role in developing the talented engineers, both male and female, of the future.



Volvo will conduct the first on-road trials of driverless cars in the Southern Hemisphere in South Australia in November.

The testing by Volvo will be held in conjunction with an international conference on driverless cars in Adelaide.

Volvo will test the same vehicle being used in their ‘Drive Me’ project in Sweden. South Australia legalised the use of driverless cars on its roads earlier this year.

The testing is part of independent road research agency ARRB’s Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative.

ARRB managing director Gerard Walton said that automated vehicles are a short-term reality that Australia needs to be prepared for. ‘The South Australian Government has been quick to recognise this,’

He continued, ‘ARRB will establish how driverless technology needs to be manufactured and introduced for uniquely Australian driving behaviour, our climate and road conditions, including what this means for Australia’s national road infrastructure, markings, surfaces and roadside signage.’’

Volvo’s testing will be undertaken in conjunction with Flinders University, Carnegie Mellon University, the RAA and Cohda Wireless.

The Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill said the technology promises to not only improve safety, reduce congestion and lower emissions, but also to provide a real opportunity for South Australia to become a key player in the emerging driverless vehicle industry.

‘This trial presents a fantastic opportunity for South Australia to take a lead nationally and internationally in the development of this new technology and open up new opportunities for our economy,’ he said.

The driverless car trials will take place on an expressway south of the capital city of Adelaide on 7 and 8 November.

Multiple vehicles will conduct manoeuvres such as overtaking, lane changing, emergency braking and the use of on and off ramps.

The International Driverless Cars Conference will be hosted at the Adelaide Convention Centre and Tonsley precinct on November 5 and 6.



The world will soon see 5G emerge as a blend of pre-existing technologies such as 2G, 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi to allow higher network coverage, availability and density. With its key differentiator being greater connectivity, 5G will act as an enabler for autonomous vehicles, machine-to-machine and machine-to-infrastructure services, and the Internet of Things. It will also penetrate the over-the-air (OTA) updates space as level 3 or 4 automation requires a massive amount of data processing to occur in real time. Through 5G, the OTA updates space will be able to improve the customer experience and save on recall spending.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, The Global Advent of 5G in Cars, forecasts that Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan will be the market leaders in commercializing 5G, edging out their United States and European counterparts. With the penetration of long-term evolution (LTE) connections being fairly strong across Asian countries – close to 63 percent in South Korea and 44 percent in Japan – the available infrastructure can easily support 5G.

Major service providers expect to deploy a pilot project in Tokyo Olympics and FIFA World Cup at Russia by 2018. Meanwhile, Asian service providers such as NTT, DoCoMo, Huawei and SKT have entered various partnerships to set up trials for 5G in various bandwidths and identify its potential.

‘However, the biggest challenge for network service providers is to enable 5G to provide end-to-end coverage and achieve latency less than one millisecond,’ said Frost & Sullivan automotive and transportation senior research analyst Ramnath Eswaravadivoo. ‘As such, network service providers have their work cut out to live up to 5G’s promise – the seamless extension of services and coverage anywhere, anytime, regardless of whether the user is in a dense area like a stadium/city centre or in a village/high-speed train.’

While highly automated cars are expected to be on the market by 2020, 5G will be the driving force behind vehicle applications involving machine learning, brake/steering, ECU integration, highly accurate GPS, and sensor fusion. 5G will also facilitate wearable devices like smart glasses and smart watches, and help make augmented reality and virtual reality mainstream features in cars.



Arsonists have caused an estimated half a million pounds worth of damage, after setting light to cars at a bodyshop in Heywood.

Firefighters were called to the scene at the insurance repair centre in Heywood Distribution Park at around midnight, after an internal system from a BMW car alerted staff that it was on fire.

Around 20 privately owned cars, which were at the repair centre in connection with Direct Line insurance company, were destroyed in the blaze.

Heywood watch manager Pete Fletcher said: “When we got there, there were probably already about 10 cars on fire, but because of the intensity of the heat the fire was spreading from vehicle to vehicle. ‘Some of the vehicles were worth about £50,000 and were only in for minor repairs, but now they’re completely written off.’

Fire crews from Heywood and Whitefield spent more than three hours tackling the blaze and damping down the premises. CCTV footage shows people smashing up the car windows before setting light to several vehicles. A joint investigation is underway between the fire service and police.

Detective Inspector Lee Hopwood said: ‘A large number of cars have been destroyed by fire causing upwards of half a million pounds damage to privately owned vehicles. The investigation is ongoing and we are currently studying CCTV.

‘These people have gone around smashing windows before setting the vehicles alight. These are all individual victims – people who have had their own cars destroyed.’

Detective Constable Jason Ruff added, ‘This is a terrible incident that has left a local business facing substantial repair costs. We are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the area around the time the initial call was made to police or even shortly after.’


Environmental Agency to expose non-compliant R134a distributors

Motor factors and garages are warned to comply with F-gas rules or risk prosecution

The Environment Agency will be making routine checks of MAC service centres to ensure that technicians are suitably qualified.

New campaign leaflets issued to motor factors and garages have warned F-gas suppliers, technicians and end users about their legal obligations to conform to recently updated legislation.

Highlighting the most recent changes, the Environment Agency last month announced that it will be making “routine checks” and that “those found to be operating illegally will face regulatory action which may include prosecution.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson told GW: “As the regulatory body for F-gases in England, we regularly organise campaigns to raise awareness and ensure compliance.

“The update that was sent to garages is part of our latest campaign.”

Failing to comply

However, some suggest that this latest campaign may have been triggered following complaints that a number motor factors and garages are failing to fully comply with the new rules, which were introduced in January of this year.

James McClean, managing director of Motorclimate and CompressorTech, said: “It’s not a level playing field, some factors are following the guidelines and some aren’t.

“The liability is on both sides, the garage should have a qualification and the motor factor has to keep a log to gather that information and ensure that the garage does have the qualifications required.”

It’s thought that a two part investigation to expose those who fail to meet regulations will take place during the next six months.

Mclean advises motor factors and garages to ensure that they comply with F-gas rules to avoid potential fines and prosecution, adding: “Do you want to be listed on the Environmental Agency’s wall of shame?”


Introduced earlier this year to strengthen existing measures and reduce fluorinated gasses, only technicians qualified to handle F-gas can service Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) that contain regulated F-gases.

Retailers selling F-gas refrigerant for the service of MAC systems in vehicles must now record the qualification details of the customer’s technicians.

It is illegal to sell F-gas without receiving proof that it will be used by a qualified technician, preventing over-the-counter purchases to unqualified persons.

Garages must ensure that technicians who recover F-gas from a MAC system hold a suitable qualification in refrigerant recovery and must provide proof before F-gas can be purchased.

By 2030, the European Commission claim that January’s changes will cut the EU’s F-gas emissions by two-thirds compared with 2014 levels.

The reduction will contribute to the EU’s objective of cutting its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050.


‘Game changing’ DPF cleaner is a profitable solution

GSF Car Parts launch new professional DPF cleaner

The Vetech DPF cleaner, exclusively available through GSF Car Parts, is a non-flammable solution supplied in five litre containers for £28.95 + VAT and is suitable for all aluminium, magnesium, zinc or cadmium parts, as well as the latest generation of DPFs.

The solution is poured into the removed DPF and left overnight; the liquid gently breaks down and cleans the residues.

The following morning, simply rinse with clean water and refit.

The cleaner has been shown to remove all visible dirt, soot and ash trapped in the filter cores.

GSF say even the worst examples have all been returned to normal operating levels, performing at over 95 per cent of their ‘as new’ capacity.

John Wright, Garage Essentials Manager at GSF Car Parts, said: “We see the new Vetech Professional DPF Cleaner as a game changer.”

“Up until now, the workshop options have been to use pour-in additives, which can’t always clear more stubborn blockage, or have specialist workshop capital equipment to perform regenerations, which just isn’t viable for many independents.”

In a survey carried out earlier this year, 84 per cent of garages said they receive enquiries from motorists with DPF problems at least once a week and most reported that the number was of enquiries was increasing.

Early adopters of the new solution have reported it to be hugely successful.

Dennis Donohue, owner of D.S. Motors Birmingham, said: “One 2006 Saab was heading to the scrap yard as it was not regenerating, and was stuck in limp mode with a new DPF costing over £1,200.

“Within 24 hours, the vehicle was returned to the customer, as good as new, for a faction of the cost of a replacement.”

Tejveer Brar, owner of Star Garage London, said: “The first time I used the Vetech DPF Professional Cleaner was on a 2007 BMW 535 that was blocked so badly that is was a non-runner.

“The solution returned the DPF to the original level.”


International Engine of the Year Award winner boasts Dayco parts

Engine built with Dayco systems has been named an International winner for the fourth consecutive year

Ford’s 999cc three-cylinder turbo engine, engineered using the Dayco timing Belt-in-Oil system for both the primary and oil pump drives, has won the sub 1-litre category while three additional engines built with Dayco engine components won their respective categories.

Paul DiLisio, Senior Vice President of Global Automotive and Industrial OE Sales for Dayco, said: “The timing Belt-in-Oil, invented by Dayco and in series production since 2007, weighs less, has lower stretch, reduces friction and is quieter than traditional chain-drive components.

“For our customers, such as Ford, this translates into higher engine performance, lower emissions and improved fuel economy.”

Panellists judged each engine using criteria on fuel economy, smoothness, performance, noise and drivability.

Additional Dayco engine products are also utilised on the winning engines of the 1-litre to 1.4-litre, above 4-litre and Performance Engine categories.

In total, Dayco engine products and systems are in use on more than 25 finalist engines, including those of Ford, Volkswagen, Ferrari, Fiat, Audi, BMW and PSA.


Independent wins over 250 jobs with WhoCanFixMyCar membership

Thomsons Auto Centre report almost £100,000 of extra business in one year

The East Kilbride-based garage in South Lanarkshire has registered its 250th job won on, less than a year after signing up.

Clutch repairs, brake pads, discs, servicing and MOTs ranked high on the list of common jobs won by the garage, with the most common models being the Vauxhall Astra and Corsa.

WhoCanFixMyCar say Thomsons Auto Centre won approximately £80,000-90,000 worth of work, paying just £2,682 commission.

Drew Irvine, of Thomsons Auto Centre, said the garage has seen 20 per cent of these customers return for additional work – commission-free – during the same year.

Alex Rose, Marketing Director at WhoCanFixMyCar, said: “ allow garages to see a customer’s phone number once they’ve quoted, so Drew can follow his quote up with a courtesy call, and even get the car booked in then and there.

“Reviews are the secret weapon in his arsenal – he’s got 128 of them, and a proud 100 per cent positive customer rating, which he makes sure to highlight whenever he applies for work!”

WCFMC jobs postedMr Irvine explained that he has used the online service to network with other garages, once putting a customer in contact with a highly rated workshop after they developed a problem away from home.

Mr Irvine said: “I had worked on a Bentley Continental GTC which had developed what we believed to be a wheel bearing issue.

“Trouble was, the driver was down south at the time! The good news is that I was able to nip into and look up the highest-rated garages in the area, which is how I found Automotive Components Specialist.

“I could simply pick up the phone and put my original customer in touch with them, knowing from their glowing feedback that a car like that would be in safe hands.”

WhoCanFixMyCar has announced that it will continue to roll out a number of new features, with a real-time news feed, deep performance analytics and template quotes launched just last month.



Parking space goes on sale for staggering £390,000

Extortionately priced London parking space costs more than the average supercar

The unbelievably expensive £390,000 parking space is located in South Kensington, London and comes complete with 24 hour security and valet service.

The Rightmove property advert reads: “Boasting an exceptional location, this exquisite underground parking development boasts a secure, prestigious and exclusive environment, while offering a fantastic spacious triple bay.”

For the same price, you could buy a detached three-bedroom property in Cornwall.


Car insurance premiums on the rise, says AA

Car insurance premiums have risen for the first time for nearly three years, with young drivers facing the biggest increases, a survey suggests.

The AA’s index of the cheapest deals on the market showed that the cost of annual comprehensive car insurance rose by 5.2% in the three months to the end of June.

Drivers aged 23 to 29 have seen a 6.2% rise over the same period, the biggest increase of any age group.

They typically paid a premium of £683.

“Insurers have been releasing their reserves to maintain their competitive edge to the point where this is no longer sustainable – and we are seeing premiums beginning to rise once more,” said Janet Connor, managing director of AA Insurance.

“The days of cheap car insurance premiums are over – price rises are inevitable.”

A quote for a typical comprehensive motor insurance policy for all age groups has risen to £549.

The AA estimates that the rise in insurance premium tax, announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the Budget, will add £18 to the cost of the average comprehensive car insurance policy.

The insurer also reported a 1.3% rise in the index of cheapest home and contents insurance premiums, the first increase since 2012.

The average premium for a contents policy has hit £61.18 with the typical buildings premium up to £108.15.


Posted by Lois Hardy on 21/07/2015