In Ian Fleming’s novel Goldfinger, the Aston Martin DB5 driven by its protagonist, one James Bond, a spy on the trail of a suspected international criminal mastermind somewhere in the Swiss Alps, pursues the open-topped Mustang driven by Tilly Masterston, a young woman who has recently appeared to fire at Bond with a sniper’s rifle, and forces her off the road with the aid of a tyre-shredding appendage emanating from one of its wheel hubs.

Drivers up and down the UK, it seems, are also being forced off the road, but in more prosaic fashion – by the rising cost of motoring, to be specific. According to depressing new research from cheese-eating insurance firm AXA, it’s, like, really expensive driving and that, and, like, not really as much fun as it used to be.

Forty four per cent of respondents in this year’s AXA Motoring Census (“almost half”) said the fun had started to go out of driving for them, with 68% (almost all) of them blaming flagrantly excessive fuel costs. One in eight said they would consider driving less or stopping altogether if petrol prices rise to £1.50 or £1.60 or something. While 16% said they might cut back or pack it in if insurance premiums continue rising.

Others, however – one in ten, to adopt a semblance of spurious specificity – have hit on a potential solution to the rising premiums problem… not bothering with insurance! Three per cent of respondents, meanwhile, had an even cunninger plan that involves not merely premium dodging but also driving away without paying for fuel. Bingo: carefree driving’s back in town!

AXA’s Edward Amandas commented: “It’s heartening to see that few will go without car insurance to save money.” That’s the spirit, Chaps! We’d love to “help motorists save on their insurance by keeping costs low,” Amandas added, “but sadly fraudulent claims mean our premiums are forced up.”

Clearly, Amandas wasn’t the mystery insurance person who told researchers working for The Telegraph recently that “We simply raised our prices in line with the market and made more profit. We didn’t need to do this.”

Hardly very helpful when motor insurers up and down the land are struggling just to get by.


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