MOTORISTS on Orkney have seen the cost of car insurance rise faster than anywhere else in the UK over the past year.

Drivers on the island are now paying an average of £712 to insure their vehicles for a year, saddling them with the most expensive premiums in Scotland and the highest for drivers in Orkney since records began.

Islanders have seen the cost of comprehensive car insurance rocket by 47 per cent year-on-year, up by £227 compared to the same period in 2015. It comes amid escalating car insurance costs nationwide, but puts Orkney far ahead of the UK average of a 17 per cent year-on-year increase.

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The latest statistics, covering the period between July and September this year, have been compiled by for its quarterly car insurance price index.

Widening the data out to a regional level, the figures show that drivers in the Scottish Borders have been hit the hardest by insurance premium increases over the last 12 months, up 23 per cent compared to 20 per cent for the Highlands and Islands as a whole.

Motorists in the Borders are now paying £520 a year, up £99, while those across the Highlands and Islands can now expect to pay around £554.

Meanwhile, drivers in the east and north-east of Scotland have seen their average annual premiums rise by 18 per cent year-on-year, to £529, while the Central belt continues to be Scotland's most expensive region for car insurance - up 17 per cent year-on-year to £584.

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Car insurance is typically higher in urban and built-up areas where more traffic on the roads means a greater risk of collisions, which partly explains why Central Belt motorists are paying most on average.

However, the steeper increases for remote and rural areas could be linked to anything from increased potholes to poor weather, leading to icy or flooded road conditions. There is also a higher concentration of serious and fatal crashes on country roads.

A breakdown of car insurance premiums by gender and age group in particular regions also reveals that female drivers in the Scottish Borders aged between 51 and 55 have experienced the highest annual increase of any demographic in the UK. They are now paying £406 annually, up 30 per cent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, male drivers from Central Scotland aged between 17 and 20 are paying more than any other group of drivers in the UK for their annual premiums - up 13 per cent year-on-year to £1,873.

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Despite the steep increases in car insurance across Scotland, Scottish drivers are generally still paying less than the UK average which now stands at £737 a year.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at says: "Car insurance premiums are influenced by a range of defining factors – from the population of an area to the number of claims.

"As ever, our advice to all motorists is to shop around, which can help drivers save on their car insurance".

Ms Stretton added that motorists could also cut costs by seeking out competitive finance deals and reducing running costs.

The upward trend in car insurance costs comes after an increase in Insurance Premium Tax in November 2015, which saw the average cost of a policy spike by 10 per cent between the third and fourth quarters of 2015.

The change, unveiled in the 2015 Budget, increased the standard rate from six per cent to 9.5 per cent as of November 1 2015.

Bogus whiplash claims have also been blamed for escalating insurance costs in recent years. A report by the AA suggested that 11 per cent of drivers thought it was acceptable to make an insurance claim for an injury following a collision, even if no injury was suffered, but that such false and exaggerated claims were adding around £50 to every policy.