We have all watched in horror as the price of insurance has sky-rocketed in Ireland in the past year, and many of us are now paying as much as double our old premiums. The situation is bleak, with the government stalling on putting measures in place to bring premiums back down, but in the meantime there are things you can do to get your insurance costs down to manageable levels.
1. Who are you?
Are you a learner driver with your own policy? Well get the test done and passed as quick as you can, as nothing brings down the cost of insurance like getting your full licence. Are you under the age of 30? Well, there’s not much you can do about that, of course, but for those of us approaching the big 3-0, the good news is that insurance starts getting much cheaper once you’re out of your twenties. For those still under 25, just hang in there, we feel your pain. Your profession can also affect your premium. Those such as nurses, Gardaí and people who are on shift work can often find that their premiums are higher because they are judged as driving at unsociable hours.
2. What are you driving?
The Irish insurance industry is sadly far more opaque than that of the UK and other countries, and we still don’t have a transparent insurance grouping system for cars that would help people to choose their wheels on the basis of likely insurance costs. In the continued absence of that, there are a few tips for getting a car with minimal insurance costs. Basically, these boil down to the newest car possible with the smallest engine possible. If you’re under 30, realistically, you need to be sticking to an engine of between 1.0- and 1.2-litre capacity. If your car is more than 10-14 years old, you’re going to either be refused insurance outright or simply given a totally unaffordable quote, as Irish insurers have decided that older vehicles carry an unhealthy level of risk. You also need to avoid anything sporty or even with the suggestion of sportiness. A random ’S’ in the car’s name or trim level can be enough to start the premium loading, so buy carefully in that regard. Your best bet is probably a five-year old Toyota Yaris 1.0-litre to be honest.
3. Take an advanced driving course
This is a good idea anyway, as anything that increases your skill level behind the wheel helps to keep you and your fellow road users safer, but you need to check with your insurer first to make sure that they will actually give you a meaningful discount for taking and passing an advanced course. Many Irish insurers still don’t recognise such courses, in spite of their proven results.
4. Cut your mileage, up your excess
Reducing your annual mileage can bring down your premium a little, as quite simply less time on the road means you’re exposed to less risk. If your average annual mileage is less than 5,000km then you’re on to a winner. Choosing to pay more excess in the event of damage to your car is also a useful way to get a premium down, but just remember that it means some small prangs will be pointless to claim for.
5. Use your garage
If you’re lucky enough to have a garage, then it’s a good idea to clear out all the junk from within and start parking your actual car in it, especially overnight. For anyone with a fully comprehensive or third party, fire and theft policy that can trigger some significant savings.
6. Consider a black box
Many insurance companies are now offering significant discounts to those who fit their cars with a ‘black box’, which monitors their driving and issues monthly reports. It’s a good way to stop yourself exceeding the speed limit and it also encourages smoother, more careful driving. It does, to our minds, rather offer a get-out clause on better driver training and it is something of a sinister spy-in-the-cab, but for younger drivers especially, fitting one may be the only route to affordable insurance.
7. Shop around
A terrible old cliché, but it’s true – the more you shop around and the more you play one insurer off against the other the better the premium you will get. Never ever simply sign a renewal form and send it back, as insurers admit they artificially pad renewal quotes in the expectation that people will ask for a discount. Make the best use of the internet to research the best possible deals. It’s also well worth getting friendly with a good local insurance broker, as often they have access to deals that you won’t be able to find yourself.
8. Don’t add extra people to your policy
It’s always a good idea to encourage others to have their own insurance policy, and even if it ends up being a bit more painful for them, it’s certainly going to save your potentially hundreds on your own costs. Time to get those sponging teenagers to move out, eh?
9. Don’t pay by the month
Most policies can now be paid for in monthly instalments, but in general this is a bad idea. There are no zero per cent finance offers on insurance, so however big the premium is, you’re going to pay more to pay it monthly. It’s better then, as much as is possible, to pay it all up front. If you can’t, it’s worth looking at the idea of getting a zero per cent credit card solely for the purpose of paying the policy, making sure that you clear the debt before any extra charges kick in.
With average Irish insurance prices now well north of €1,000 a year, why not move to Northern Ireland where they’re around a quarter of that? With the weakened Pound now could be just the time to buy a nice flat in Belfast and start long-haul commuting to work. Well, it’s an idea anyway…