HomeCar InsuranceIreland’s car insurance prices are rising —but good deals are out there

Ireland’s car insurance prices are rising —but good deals are out there

Although price walking — whereby insurers effectively charge a premium each year to customers who remain loyal — was outlawed in 2022, a majority of motorists have been facing a steady uptick in their car insurance bills of late.

According to the latest consumer price index for April 2024, for example, premiums are up by about 6 per cent on annual basis.

Insurers can no longer differentiate between a customer renewing for their umpteenth year and an identical customer heading into, say, year two — but they can offer sizeable discounts to those taking out a policy with them for the first time.

This practice, known as dual pricing, was banned two years ago in the UK but continues to be the norm here. It means that, come renewal time each year, the price-conscious consumer cannot rest easy that they are getting the best deal with their current insurer.

Brokers say that, in spite of rising premiums, there are still attractive deals available. Unfortunately, though, getting them usually involves some degree of hassle — as anyone who has ever filled out multiple car insurance forms online will know — or finding a good broker.

New names

There are a couple of new players on the car insurance scene now, following OUTsurance’s recent arrival and Revolut’s decision to throw its hat into the ring last year. To entice customers, OUTsurance is offering to pay 10 per cent of a motorist’s premiums back in cash if they keep a policy with it, claims-free, for three years.

The caveat is, of course, that you cannot know what the company’s prices will be like in two or three years.

Ireland’s new insurer makes a splash

Many insurers and brokers offer some form of discount; this could be for anything from booking online to having more than one policy with them.

Liberty, for example, is offering a €40 retail voucher for new policies taken out up to the end of July, while Chill is knocking €40 off for policies bought online. Again, however, the best advice is to focus on the quoted, bottom-line premium; if the best price for the right cover also happens to come with a sweetener, then great.

“These incentives increase the complexity of finding the best deal,” Paul Hudson, founder of Compare Insurance Ireland, says. “However, customers are much more savvy these days, with most conducting online research before making a decision.”

It is crucial to choose the policy that best suits your needs and make comparisons based on criteria such as policy type, coverage levels, excess limits and optional extras.

Irish motorists need to act fast to bag a car insurance bargain

When Revolut started providing car insurance here last year, meanwhile, it made bold claims that its prices would be 30 per cent lower than its longer-standing competitors. Anecdotally at least it seems that the digital bank is sometimes cheaper but not always, depending on the specifics.

One 43-year-old learner driver who posted on Boards.ie in April about their renewal said Revolut was, at €1,500, far cheaper than other insurers. However, another motorist was quoted almost three times as much by Revolut as by Axa.

Regardless, the arrival of the two new insurers has been broadly welcomed as boosting competition.

“It’s very welcome to see more players coming into the insurance market as this can place a downward pressure on prices and provides more choice for customers,” Ian O’Reilly, head of personal line sales at Chill, says.

Key factors

Insurance costs are greatly dependent on your age, driving history, where you live and the car you drive, and so on. According to the recent car insurance pricing index from Chill, for example, drivers in Connacht pay the least for their motor policies.

Your job can influence how much you pay — and whether you can even get an online quote. It is not unusual to fail to get a quote through an insurer’s website because the system does not like your profession. Users have reported the problem with various providers, including Revolut and Liberty; experimentally tweaking their job title to something slightly more generic, however, usually gets them a quote.

You can also try calling the insurer. You may still be charged a premium based on your profession, of course. According to Chill’s data, for example, prison officers get the cheapest car insurance at an average premium of €413, followed closely by bookkeepers, retirees, medical secretaries and members of An Garda Siochana.

You can shave your premium by paying in full rather than monthly; adding a named driver; and customising your policy so that you do not pay for unnecessary extras.

“Motorists might see further drops in their policy price if they increase their excess or reduce the value of the car being insured because of depreciation,” O’Reilly adds.

Young drivers

Young drivers and learners can face colossal bills because of their higher risk profile. As Hudson notes, the type of policy can make a big difference here, such as when the young person gets insurance in their own name or is added as a named driver to an existing policy.

One 24-year-old driver based near Innishannon, Co Cork, has finally seen her premiums become more manageable — but only after more than three years on a full licence. Before passing her test in early 2021 she was in the Aviva Driving School, which meant that her insurance and lessons came to about €500 in total; at that point she did not own a car.

She bought a vehicle after passing her test, however, and her first premium — with Axa — was €1,280. This dropped to €1,043 the following year and to €994 in 2023. This year she was quoted €850 for her renewal but decided to move to An Post, where she had been quoted €660. A month later, however, she changed cars, which nudged her premium back up by €200.

After first taking out insurance three years ago, she went to pay the renewal price with the same insurer for the following two years — before being advised to switch insurers this year. She says that she has found certain insurers to be far more competitively priced for young drivers.

“Some were offering astronomical prices that a young driver just could not pay for themselves,” she says.

Most of her friends also initially got their cover from Axa, because it was offering “significantly lower prices” for her age group, she says. However, as she and her peers have grown older and gained more experience behind the wheel, they have found insurers that were far more expensive in the early days are now offering keener prices.

Mirror, signal, burger — my highway code for every age

Despite this, she says, most of her friends have simply stuck with the same company. “People seem to go for the cheaper one first and then never change again, even though they are now paying more than they would with other insurers.”

Whatever your age, there is a decent chance that you can do better — at least price-wise — than whatever figure happens to appear on the renewal letter or email you get from your current insurer. That is because, by that time, any discount for new customers has elapsed.

Even if you cannot bring yourself to seek alternative quotes, whether directly or through a broker, you could at least try contacting your insurer to ask if it can do any better or if there are any tweaks you could make.

“It could be possible for the insurer to review the premium, for example, if anything has changed in the last year, such as the owner using the car less, or if another named driver needs to be added,” O’Reilly says.

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