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The number of motor insurance claims settled last year dropped by 19%, as vehicles sat idle with drivers staying at home. The total amount paid out fell by 6% compared with the previous year, the data from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) shows.

But the average price paid by drivers for new comprehensive car insurance fell by only 1%. The ABI said that insurers had faced other costs when supporting customers.

With so many fewer journeys taking place during the various Covid lockdown restrictions across the country in 2020, it was inevitable that there would be fewer accidents, thefts and insurance claims.

There were still 2.1 million claims settled, down 19% on the previous year. Average payouts did rise, particularly for personal injury. However, there was still a cut of 6% in total payouts made by insurers, to £8.3bn.

Motorists may have hoped to see these savings reflected in lower premiums. The cost of new comprehensive motor insurance did fall to a four-year low, but only dropped by 1%.

The ABI said this was the result of various factors, some – but not all – of which were the result of the impact of the pandemic. It said that some insurers had been altering existing policyholders’ deals owing to their lower mileage, which had included offering rebates.

Extra services had also been included, without charge, such as automatic cover for those driving to and from work, or delivering medicines or groceries. Drivers who are financially stretched have also been given the option to pay premiums in instalments.

There is no guarantee that prices will get any cheaper in the future, despite new controls on whiplash claims. “As we edge back to some form of normality, cost pressures remain, such as increasing vehicle repair costs, reflecting ever more complex vehicle technology,” said Laura Hughes, the ABI’s general insurance manager.

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