Emigrants returning to Ireland might soon get some relief on their car insurance

A new report has suggested ways of tackling high motor insurance costs.

By Paul O'Donoghue Reporter, Fora

EMIGRANTS WHO HAVE experience driving abroad might soon be in line to get some relief on their car insurance premiums if new rules are introduced as planned.

The recommendation is one of many made in a report published this afternoon by a special government working group set up to examine the high cost of car insurance premiums.

The report from the Cost of Insurance Working Group covered several key areas, such as improving data availability and reducing the costs in the claims process, with a view to bringing down high car premium costs for consumers.

The publication makes over 30 recommendations in total, one of which is that a standard protocol should be put in place by insurance companies “to ensure greater consistency of treatment for returning emigrants”.

Source: Dept of Finance IRL/Twitter

Consistency for emigrants

Many returning emigrants have complained of the fact that insurance companies often do not take experience driving abroad into account.

For example, an emigrant who had lived in, and been driving in, the UK for five years may not be able to immediately get a no-claims bonus upon their return to Ireland, even if they had no claims during their time abroad.

Last year Fine Gael’s Jim Daly said he was told of drivers receiving quotes 500% higher than the norm after returning home.

The report recommends that insurers “implement policies to accept driver experience from abroad when a person has previous driving experience in Ireland and is coming from a country that drives on the left side of the road.”

It said that companies should “take full account of the experience in that country and previous Irish experience when pricing policy.” The deadline for this measure to be implemented is the second quarter of this year.

The publication also recommended that insurer’s make a policy for returning emigrants who had lived in a country where people drive on the other side of the road. The deadline for this is the end of 2017.

Key points

Some other key recommendations in the report include:

  • The introduction of an insurance database that would allow the Gardai to check insurance compliance “through the use of technology such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition”.
  • A requirement for insurers to set out the reasons for large premium price hikes to consumers to “provide transparency”.
  • The establishment of a national claims information database.
  • The establishment of an insurance fraud database “for industry to detect patterns of fraud”.

Minister of State for financial services Eoghan Murphy, who chaired the working group, said implementing the report’s recommendations “will lead to greater stability in the pricing of motor insurance and will help prevent the volatility that we have seen in the market in the past, both up and down”.

“It should also better facilitate potential new entrants to the market,” he said. “There is no silver bullet to reduce the cost of insurance, insofar as no one recommendation will solve the problem on its own.

“However, cooperation and commitment between all bodies and individuals with a stake in a stable insurance market can deliver fairer premiums for consumers.”