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Car Insurance in Ireland

Introduction to Irish Motor Insurance

In the Republic of Ireland, third-party limited liability insurance is obligatory. This coverage ensures that all damages caused to the other party, will be covered, up to a certain maximum amount (varies between insurance companies).

Insurance premiums are based on a number of criteria, with the following being amongst the main criteria affecting drivers:

  • Age of driver
  • Gender of driver
  • Type of Driving Licence
  • Type and standard of vehicle
  • Location where vehicle is driven
  • Usage of car
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Insurance Costs

Due to a "claims culture" and other factors, insurance premiums in Ireland remain amongst the highest in the EU. There are over 200,000 claims every year in Ireland, and insurance companies maintain high premiums, to cover these costs. However the motor insurance company in Ireland is also massively profitable, making profits 10 times greater than those made by insurers in the UK, during the 90's.

Those particularly affected by the high insurance rates, include young male drivers. Costs can run into thousands, to become insured. It is a situation that is being tackled by the IIF (irish insurance federation) in conjunction with the driving instructors register of ireland.

They have created an educational programme which aims to help young drivers to lower their premiums. Discounts on insurance premiums are offered after a number of driving lessons have been taken, under the incentive scheme.

Insurance quotes can vary widely between companies, so customers are strongly encouraged to shop around to get the best price. Online resources include www.123.ie and www.esure.com, which will compare prices from different insurance companies.

An insurance broker (middle-man) can provide a cost-effective quote, and you can also approach certain companies directly, incluing FirstCall Direct, Quinn Direct and Premier Direct.

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Methods of lowering the Insurance

Irish insurance premiums are high (even prohibitively high), so any methods to lower the costs are helpful.

  • Lowering the risk of theft: Install a car alarm, Park the car in a secure area.
  • If your driving insurance is open cover (for fully-licenced) drivers over 25, it might be appropriate to restrict it to named drivers.
  • For married drivers, consider restricting the cover to yourself and your spouse only.
  • If your spouse has their own vehicle, consider restricting cover to yourself only.
  • If your not benefitting from the full no claims discount, take the Driving Instructors Register programme at a Driving School.
  • If your car is new, you mightn't need cover for a breakdown service, because the majority of new cars are covered for up to 12 months free of charge, upon purchase.
  • If your car is often used for business, talk with your insurer as occasional business use might be covered at no cost.
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The Points System

The penalty point system was introduced in October 2002, by the Minister of Transport. It is a method of tracking and barring repeat offenders, by apportioning a certain number of points for different offences. Penalty points can be given for speeding, not wearing ones seatbelt and a number of other driving offences.

For example, for speeding there is an on the spot fine of €80, and 2 penalty points. If the driver collects 12 penalty points within 3 years, the individual is barred from driving for 6 months.

An extensive plan to install CCTV cameras has also being developed, which means that drivers can be caught speeding by cameras, have their vehicle identified, and receive penalty points in the mail!

Drivers who take issue with their penalty points, could face fines of up to 800 euro and a doubling of their points, if they lose their appeal. In its first year of operation, nearly 100,000 drivers has received penalty points!

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Risks which make insurance essential when driving in Ireland

The poor condition of the Irish road network, contributes to the usual road risks,when driving in Ireland. There have been improvements over the 1990s, but much of the network, has not seen enough development.

The main developments have been on primary routes, connecting Dublin, Cork and other major Irish towns and cities. The rest of the network remains in a state of poor repair.

Poor road conditions include road-margins crumbling away, sharp and winding roadways, poor signage and road-marking and dangerously narrow roads.

As in many other northern European countries, drink-driving remains a serious problem. Efforts to improve the situation are ongoing, though fear-inducing television adverts are prooving unhelpful and are highly insensitive to families and individuals who have been involved in road accidents.

Progress will result from a more thoughtful school and media campaign, that encourages people to question drinking "culture", introduces them to other cultures where the problem is less evident, and helps individuals to make a conscious choice not to drink and drive. Community initiatives like organised car-pooling, where the driver remains sober, are also helpful.

Another danger encountered on the roads, is the growing number of irresponsible individuals that think of their cars as toys, that can be driven at insane speeds and pushed to the limit on public roadways - with no thought given to other vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists. There are a number of factors that dispose people to drive in a reckless and anti-social manner.

Many people don't understand the purpose of a car. They are under the impression that it's some kind of plaything that can be experimented with on public roads, with no regard to safety or law. These individuals should book some time on a racing track, where they can indulge their passions, and pit their (usually woeful) driving skills against others in the racing fraternity.

Another increasing problem, is the issue of combining recreational drugs such as cannabis with driving. This issue is a growing danger, fueled by a commonly accepted untruth, that cannabis doesn't affect ones driving skills. The contrary has been shown to be true, by a number of studies.

Cannabis affects a driver's ability to react to dangers, similarly to having a low-percentage blood alcohol level. The driver can also become focused on distractions such as cars driving to the rear, while becoming oblivious to oncoming dangers.

Drivers should never drive with alcohol, cannabis or any other psychotropic recreational substance in their blood-stream.

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