Drive a hard bargain for better car insurance

Drive a hard bargain for better car insurance

As you may be aware, new rules around motor insurance documentation have been introduced. The rules are aimed at improving transparency for consumers but a broker is warning they may have unintended consequences and could cause some confusion among policy holders.

From November 1, insurance companies are required by the Central Bank to provide more details when they are sending out motor insurance renewals.

They are obliged to inform their customers what the premium was the previous year and give an upfront comparison. Insurers are also required to quote for different levels of cover, so customers will see the price for comprehensive, for third party, fire and theft, and for third party.

Insuremycars.ie managing director Jonathan Hehir explains the potential issue.

“We currently have a situation where car insurance premiums are falling. So if a motorist receives his or her renewal letter and sees that the premium they are being quoted today is €50 or even €100 lower than what they paid last year, then it’s likely that many will believe that they are getting a good deal and let their cover renew with the same insurer.

“Our advice is that just because it’s lower on the renewal form does not mean it’s the lowest premium you could get so it’s still worth shopping around,” he says.

Mr Hehir made the comments after his company conducted a motor insurance cost comparison analysis which revealed a variation of anywhere from €100 to €400 plus in the cost of premiums for just one policy.

The motor insurance experts say that of the 82% of households with one or more cars, they believe that up to half of these could be overpaying for car insurance.

Given the different parameters companies use to determine pricing, they say it is impossible to say which is the cheapest insurer, as it will vary for different drivers.

“Insurers use actuaries, algorithms and a host of other mechanisms to determine pricing,” Mr Hehir says.

“In the wake of much debate around dual pricing where insurers have been accused of offering higher premiums to some existing customers, it’s worthwhile pointing out to motorists that figuring out insurer’s pricing systems is nigh on impossible. Some insurers favour older drivers, some couples, some diesel, some petrol, while others specialise in higher risk,” he says.

So far, so frustrating for motorists who simply want good value car insurance. Shopping around is one of those tasks we know will be worthwhile but can be hard to actually sit down to do. If you can, set aside an hour or two to try a number of companies online, you will find if you get a quote and give your details, the insurer will follow up with you and may be able to get you a better deal than the initial quote.

To ensure you are getting the best possible deal, make sure you are inputting the correct value for your vehicle. It is not the amount you paid for it, and if you quote that amount you will end up paying more than you need to for your insurance, and won’t benefit in the event of a claim. Have a look online to gauge what your car is worth, not forgetting to factor in mileage.

If you can’t face shopping around, Mr Hehir strongly suggests you consider trying a broker. Insuremycars.ie says the processes brokers have in place can combat the dual-pricing issue for drivers by using standardised software at each renewal, which searches the market for the cheapest new business premium.

“At each renewal we put the policyholder’s details through our new business search engine to find the lowest car insurance premium for them for the coming year,” Mr Hehir says.

“If the current insurer offers an inflated renewal price, then we will simply switch cover to an insurer that is offering better value. As a result, our clients would typically be switched across insurers every two to three years — a common practice among brokers.”

Deal of the Week

If you are buying for children this Christmas, it is worth checking out Lidl’s current Special Buy range, which includes toys to suit a wide array of tastes and budgets.

While we are all becoming more aware of sustainability when buying, and avoiding plastic where possible, some toys justify themselves by offering many hours of repeat play.

A good example is Lego, and little fans of the coloured bricks are well catered for in this range, which includes sets priced from €12.99 up to €46.99. At the higher price point, you can choose between the Star Wars Action Battle Echo Base Defence set and the Star Wars Droid Gunship set. The latter is on sale elsewhere for almost €20 more.

Other highlights include sturdy rocking animals for children age 1+. With wooden rockers and handles, and sold with a three-year warranty, for €34.99, you are getting a nursery staple that can be passed from sibling to sibling.

This range went on sale yesterday November 11 so don’t delay if you have your eye on any item.

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