Insurance Tax Rising: The Impact on Consumers

InsuranceIn his July budget, George Osborne announced that the tax paid on insurance products (Insurance Premium Tax or IPT) is to rise by more than half. This will take effect in November of this year. But how significant is this change going to be at the consumer level?

The change will certainly be a noticeable one. Both vehicle and home insurance premiums will increase as a result of the higher level of tax. However, fortunately the impact on consumers is not likely to be bank-breaking. Currently, tax only adds 6% to the pre-tax value of a premium, so it only represents a fairly small portion of the total that people pay. Only this modest tax portion is experiencing an increase, rising to 9.5% of the premium’s pre-tax cost. The increase to the amount that consumers pay will therefore be noticeable, but not massive.

As IPT, like the vast majority of taxes, is charged as a percentage of the total, those who already pay higher premiums will be worst-hit. The larger the pre-tax premium, the greater the value that will be added to it by tax. The single worst-hit group is likely to be young, newly-qualified drivers who can find that their first insurance premium comes to well over £1,000. The average newly-qualified, 17-year-old driver pays £1,869 for their first year of cover, according to the Watson Car Insurance Price Index, and the tax increase would add an extra £60 to this figure.

The average comprehensive car insurance premium across the board, according to the same index, is £600. A premium of this value will increase by £20 after the higher rate of IPT takes effect.

The reason for the increase in IPT, Osborne claimed while delivering his budget, is to bring the amount levied on insurance premiums closer to the levels charged in the world’s other major economies. Britain’s current, outgoing IPT rate of 6% is, he claimed, “well below tax rates in many other countries.”

Many types of insurance are subject to IPT. The most common products on which this tax is charged are vehicle insurance policies and home insurance, including contents insurance. Other kinds of insurance, such as many kinds of health insurance and all standard life insurance products, are exempt from this tax and should therefore be unaffected by the changes.

Still other types of insurance are subject to different rates of tax instead of IPT. Travel insurance, for example, is subject to a different tax charged at 20% of the policy’s pre-tax value. This should also theoretically be unaffected by the changes, as only IPT is being increased.

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