Parking up! One in four 'may give up driving' in Northern Ireland as car insurance costs soar
CAR drivers in Northern Ireland are seeing their motor insurance costs spiral in an additional source of household financial pain.
And the situation is so grim that one in four drivers are considering stopping driving altogether and permanently parking up.
Four out of five drivers (82 per cent) say they've seen prices shoot up when it comes to renewal - in many instances by more than £100 - according to a survey by CompareNI.com.
And two thirds (68 per cent) of respondents said the hefty hikes were imposed despite no change in their circumstances.
It comes as new figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that drivers renewing cover found their premiums rising by £36 compared to the first quarter this year, up to an average of £471.
Those buying new policies found average premiums have risen £21 to £566 compared to the first three months of 2022.
Recent UK government statistics support the CompareNI.com survey findings, with analysis showing that the motor insurance annual inflation rate grew to 43.1 per cent in May 2023.
Ian Wilson, managing director of CompareNI.com, said: “It’s shocking to see the rising cost of car insurance in Northern Ireland is actually starting to put people off driving.
“The soaring cost of repairs, parts and even hire cars, has all had a knock-on effect on premium price.
“The volume of claims is also increasing, most likely due to the cost-of-living crisis as drivers struggle to pay for smaller claims themselves.”
He added: “We’ve noticed a surge in the volume of customers to our site since the start of the year, up nearly 50 per cent on this time last year as people hunt for savings.
“While aiming to secure cost-effective insurance, it’s crucial for drivers to ensure they’re not compromising on protection in case of accidents or unforeseen circumstances.”
Mr Wilson said: “Often there’s very little difference in price between third party cover and fully comprehensive, so if you can, it’s best to safeguard your finances and go fully comprehensive.
“There are always ways to save, and using a comparison site is an ideal platform to compare products, to make sure you’re getting the cover you need, at a price you can afford.”
:: CompareNI.com’s top 10 tips to help you get a cheaper insurance premium:
Shop early - It’s better to plan ahead and buy your policy early to lock in the price, as premium prices tend to increase the closer you get to your renewal date. Often the optimal time for bagging the cheapest deal is three weeks before the new policy is due to start.
Pay annually - If possible, it’s best to pay the entire annual premium upfront to save in the long term. Insurance providers look at monthly instalments as loans and can have high interest rates. Consider paying it all in one go to knock cash off your policy.
Improve vehicle security - Most vehicles should have an alarm and immobiliser as standard but it’s worth installing anti-theft devices such as a tracker and dashcam - it will upgrade the vehicle’s security and could get you cheaper premiums. Get the policy quotes first to consider whether the extra cost of fitting the devices will be worth it for the insurance savings.
Review your policy - Make sure to only pay for what you need and avoid driving up the premium by adding unnecessary add-ons – such as annual mileage, make sure your estimation is accurate. Also check your vehicle use, if you use it to drive to the train station for your commute to work it still needs to be noted as used for your daily commute. If you now work from home full-time, it might be worth switching the vehicle use to social only, it could result in big savings.
Add another driver - If you add another driver to the policy then you may be eligible for a multi-driver discount, plus you can split the cost of the premium. It can be particularly beneficial if the other person is an experienced driver with a clean record as they pose less risk to the insurance company, which could lead to lower premiums. Just make sure the person who uses the vehicle the most is noted as the main driver, incorrect use of this information is known as ‘fronting’ and is actually illegal, likely resulting in a criminal record and a void insurance policy.
Park in a safe place - Car owners that make use of their garages, driveways or carports for overnight parking can make big savings on their car insurance - parking on driveways rather than on the road can save you over £140 on average every year. Carport owners can do even better, with savings coming in at £230 on average.
Build up your no claims bonus - Avoid filing small claims to build up your no claims bonus. Opting to pay for minor damages out of your own pocket instead of filing a claim can prevent potential premium hikes.
Opt for a telematics product or black box - Getting a telematics device or black box fitted allows drivers to showcase their safe driving which can lead to cheaper premiums. This is a good option for young drivers and those with previous motoring convictions who are charged more as they are seen to be more at risk. By using the device it’s giving the insurance company data on which to base its risk analysis.
Avoid penalty points - Penalty points on your licence may not only result in a steep fine but will also bump up your insurance costs too. Drivers can expect premiums to rise by 5 per cent for three points and 25 per cent for six points if they’re starting from a clean licence.
Compare everything - Don't allow your policy to renew automatically or settle for the first insurance quote you receive. Take the time to do your research and compare rates from multiple sources to get the cheapest price on your premium. You can save time and utilise price comparison websites to help you compare providers, compare products and of course compare prices.