Car insurance prices were up again over the past three months, while the cost of both buildings and contents insurance fell during the same period, says the AA's latest British Insurance Premium Index.

According to the AA, over the three months ending 30 June car insurance premiums rose by 4.3%, after two quarters that showed little movement.

However, the cost of getting car insurance from a price comparison site, as opposed to going direct, has fallen by 0.9% over the past three months.

The cost of home insurance also fell, with a buildings policy falling by 0.8% and contents cover falling by 0.1% over the same three-month period.

Car insurance rises

The average cost of an annual comprehensive car insurance policy, bought directly from the insurer, rose by 4.3% to 1,034 over the three months ending 30 June.

However, the average premium bought from a price comparison site has fallen over the past three months by 0.9% to 631.

We often say it can be cheaper for most to search for a policy using a price comparison site. See our Cheap Car Insurance guide for more details.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says: "Competitive pressure is leading some companies to make big premium cuts on price comparison sites so that they can increase their portfolio of customers.

"While this is great news for consumers, they need to make sure they're getting good cover, not just a good price."

Premiums for men aged 17-22 have also risen over the past three months, increasing by 7.5% to 2,792, while premiums for women in the same age group increased by 6.5% to 1,995 over the same period.

From December 2012, a European Court of Justice ruling means insurers will no longer be able to use gender as a means of calculating insurance premiums.

The AA says young women can expect to see premium increases of up to 25% after this comes into force.

Home insurance costs

The cost of an annual home insurance policy, both buildings and contents, fell slightly over the second quarter of 2012.

The cost of a buildings policy fell by 0.8% to 176, while the cost of contents cover fell by 0.1% to 92 over the past three months, although the cost of a combined policy rose by 1.5% to 238 over the same period.

However, home insurance is still more expensive than it was a year ago. In the 12 months to 30 June the cost of a buildings policy rose by 6.9%, while the cost of contents cover also rose over the year by 4.8%.

How to slash insurance prices

There are ways to cut your insurance costs - here's what you can do:

Step 1: Use price comparison sites. These utilise a host of insurers' and brokers' websites to find you the cheapest deal based on what you require. No site lists every provider, so the key is to combine searches to give yourself the widest range. See our Cheap Car Insurance and Cheap Home Insurance guides for more detail.

Also note that Aviva and Direct Line do not appear on comparison sites so, if you've time, search their sites to add to your comparison.

Step 2: Grab cashback. Once you know the cheapest provider, check whether you can grab any money back via a cashback website.

Step 3: Remember next year. Just because you got a cheap quote this year, doesn't mean you will next year. Diarise a note six weeks before your renewal so you don't end up paying your insurer's expensive renewal price.

If you have a medical condition, have a high claims history, if you are sharing a home with friends, or if you have any other complex issues, comparison sites may not offer the cheapest policies.

If you can't find a decent quote, use a broker. You can normally find one via the British Insurance Brokers' Association (Biba) website.

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