Drivers in Scotland have been hit with sharp car insurance hikes over the last year while the rest of the UK has seen prices go down.

Despite premiums in Scotland remaining among the lowest, motorists are still seeing prices rise year on year with no clear explanation why.

According to figures from comparison site Confused.com, prices have increased by up to 6 per cent in Scotland, with drivers in the Scottish Borders paying an extra £32 in the first quarter of 2018 compared to last year - the biggest increase in the UK.

This compared to a drop of 2 per cent (£13) across the UK overall, taking average premiums to £768.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, said: “Scottish drivers are really feeling the sting of increasing car insurance premiums, unlike much of the rest of the UK.

"While many regions across the country are benefitting from respite from climbing prices, Scottish drivers will still see as much as £32 added to their price when it comes to taking out a policy."

HeraldScotland:

Elsewhere in Scotland, the central region experienced a four per cent hike, taking premiums to £653, the priciest in the country.

While the Highlands and Island and the East and North East of the country saw premiums rise by two per cent.

The overall reduction in the UK has been linked to insurers "softening" prices in the wake of a number of legal proposals.

These include a change in the way compensation payments are calculated, which is due to come into effect in England and Wales next year, meaning accident victims could receive less money.

The UK Government has also outlined plans to crackdown on whiplash claims, including increasing the small claims court limit to £5000 instead of £1000 and asking independent medics to diagnose injuries.

However, while those plans will only take effect in England and Wales, Scotland has in the past followed the UK Government's lead on compensation calculations and already has simple legal procedures for small claims up to £5000.

Neil Greig, policy and research director at The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said he would be "surprised" if "yet to be implemented legal changes have had such a substantial impact on insurance prices in Scotland".

However, he added: "Compensation claims have been influenced by the growth of no win no fee lawyers and pre medical offers from insurance companies, meaning that many people now expect to get a substantial settlement quickly for whiplash.

"These issues are being resolved in England and Wales and it is vital that the Scottish legal system also endorses them as soon as possible.

"In the meantime Scottish drivers need to know that loyalty no longer pays and comparing premiums annually should now be second nature."

This was backed by further research from Confused.com which revealed that almost a third (63%) of Scottish drivers stayed with the same insurer last time they renewed.

This was despite more than two thirds (68%) of them saying their renewal notice was more expensive than the previous year.

Ms Stretton added: "It is more important than ever for drivers in Scotland to shop around when their renewal notice comes through the door in order to find a better deal.

"Being loyal doesn’t always pay."

The data from the comparison site also showed that, unsurprisingly, younger drivers are still bearing the brunt of price hikes, with 17 to 20 year old males in Central Scotland experiencing the largest monetary change of an extra £98 (5%) year-on-year.

This means they are now paying a huge £2,089 for premiums on average.

However, drivers in the later stages of life are also being asked to pay more, with male drivers aged 66 to 70 in the Scottish Borders experiencing the biggest annual increase of any age group in any region.

They saw a hike of 17 per cent year on year - but were still only paying an average of £371.