Car insurance rates have fallen by a record 12.4% across the year, according to figures published by the AA.

After a period of sustained increases, which saw prices rise by more than 40% just two years ago, the AA says premiums have been falling at a faster rate over the past year. (See our Cheap Car Insurance guide for help finding your best quote.)

Its figures reveal the biggest fall since 1994, with the price of an annual comprehensive policy falling from £648 in October 2012 to £568 now.

Rates also dropped by 4.5% in the three months to 30 September.

Drivers between the ages of 23 and 29 benefitted the most, with premiums falling by 15.5% to £704.00 over the year. Those aged 30 to 39 saw their rates drop 13.6% to £492.51.

But the average cost of cover for 17 to 22-year-olds fell by just 4.6% to £1,198.96. Drivers aged 70 or over saw their rate drop 4.8% to £413.11.

The AA's figures are calculated using an average of the five cheapest quotes for each insurance type, using a nationwide sample of risks.

Personal injury claims crackdown

According to the AA, premiums have fallen thanks to new laws aimed at cracking down on the cost of motor-related personal injury claims.

News of the drop in rates comes as Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced that independent medical panels will assess whiplash injury claims. This is also tipped to have an effect on motor insurance rates.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says: "The insurance industry is working hard with enforcement agencies to bring those attempting to make fraudulent injury claims to book. 

"Honest motorists have been putting up with their premiums being affected by false or exaggerated injury claims for far too long."

Home insurance rates still falling

In addition to the fall in motor rates, the cost of home insurance has dropped for the sixth consecutive quarter.

According to the AA, the average premium for combined building and contents cover is now £173, down 1.7% over the quarter and down 6.6% over 12 months.

The average cost of buildings cover is now £129, down 5.8% over the past 12 months. For contents, the average premium is now £69, a 3.8% fall over the year.

The AA says a relatively calm period of weather has meant there hasn't been an influx of major claims.

Cutting car insurance costs

Here's some tips on how you can lower the cost of your car insurance.

Step 1: Use price comparison sites. The sites host search a number of insurers' and brokers' to find you the cheapest deal. No site lists every provider, so the key is to combine searches to give yourself the widest range. See our Cheap Car Insurance guide for more detail. Aviva and Direct Line don't appear on comparison sites, so search their sites too.

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 can't find a decent quote, use a broker. The British Insurance Brokers' Association (Biba) has a list on its website.