Car Insurance in Northern Ireland
While there are no real differences in the mechanics of car insurance in Northern Ireland compared to in England, Wales and Scotland, there can be differences in cost.
Figures from the Office for Fair Trading found recently that car insurance quotes in Northern Ireland tended to be on average 11% more expensive than those in the rest of the United Kingdom. Other figures estimate that since these statistics were released, insurance prices in Northern Ireland have increased by up to 73%, leading to an investigation from the nation’s Consumer Council.
While you can still expect to pay, on average, a little more than customers in England for your car insurance as a Northern Irish driver, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank – we’ll show you how to get the best quotes available.
Why is car insurance more expensive in Northern Ireland?
There are a variety of factors at play that influence the inflated price of car insurance in Northern Ireland. A paper released by the Northern Ireland Assembly Research and Library Service in 2011 sought to explain the discrepancies between car insurance prices in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Lack of Choice
Apart from anything else, the insurance market in Northern Ireland is quite significantly smaller than it is in England, Wales or Scotland. This means a lot less competition and so a lot less pressure to bring prices down.
Another big issue is that the high prices have not necessarily turned people off driving, rather it has simply led to a worrying increase in the number of uninsured drivers on the road. When an uninsured driver is involved in an accident, the claims pay-out then comes out of a central pot that all insurers pay into. Fewer insured drivers on the road means that there is less money to go into this central pot which, in turn, causes insurers to raise their premiums to negate the shortfall and the vicious cycle continues.
The issue of uninsured drivers making life more difficult and expensive for everyone else does come into play in the rest of the UK but it is when it is combined with other issues like the lack of choice of providers in Northern Ireland that the problem is exacerbated.
Northern Ireland’s legal system differs slightly from the rest of the UK. The most important difference for our purposes is that as a general rule, insurance pay-outs tend to be, on the whole, rather higher in Northern Ireland.
This leads insurers to increase the cost of their cover, so that they are not out of pocket when it comes to paying out for compensation.
The 2011 paper claimed that Northern Ireland’s relatively young population also has something to do with the inflated costs of insurance in the Six Countries. Younger drivers are statistically far more likely to be involved in accidents than older, more experienced drivers, and so cost more to insure. Having a generally young population then, will no doubt hike up the average cost of a car insurance policy.
There are other things like the higher average mileage per driver in Northern Ireland and the high concentration of traffic on rural roads, all of which add up to increase the average price of insuring a car over there.
How can I get cheap car insurance in Northern Ireland?
Despite the higher average costs for car insurance in Northern Ireland, there are always steps that you can take to keep your premiums down and avoid paying over the odds.
The first step comes into play when actually choosing your car – if you pick a car with a smaller engine, or an electric or hybrid car, you’ll find that you’ll be paying less than someone driving a sports car or a 4X4.
Security is important too, if you keep your car in a garage, and tell the insurers this, you’ll get discounted premiums offered to you.
Building up a no claims discount is one of the best ways to save, but this does take time. If you drive sensibly and responsibly and don’t make any claims then, as the years go by, you’ll find the cost of your insurance goes steadily down.
In order to make sure you get the best quotes you can, given all of the above, you need to be shopping around online. The best way to do this is to head over to our car insurance comparison service for customers in Northern Ireland, let us know what kind of cover you’re after, and we’ll pull up a list of the best value policies on the market.