Making Cents: Implications for car insurance after move to UK

Gráinne McGuinness offers consumer advice on car insurance.

I was contacted recently by a reader with a problem I suspect has come up for many Irish people in recent years.

We have heard plenty about cars being bought in the UK by Irish drivers, particularly since sterling weakened. But what about the many who have gone to the UK for work or study and need to drive while over there?

The reader had a number of queries: “I might have to move to the UK in a couple of months. I would probably have to sell my car.

“I need to know if there is an insurance company that has got UK/Irish connections that would accept my six-year no claim bonus (NCB) from Ireland and assist with insurance in the UK.

“My car has done 200,000km and I am wondering is it worth the cost to get the changes done to the vehicle and go through the neccesary MOT tests.”

I spoke to Barry Aldworth of the AA, who said it depended on how long the reader will be in the UK.

“My first piece of advice would be for them to contact their current insurer as in many cases Irish car insurance policies include the UK in their territorial limits,” Mr Aldworth said. “So his existing insurer may be able to advise if the reader can simply continue his current cover in the UK.”

If they instead decide to purchase a car in the UK and insure it directly there, we unfortunately wouldn’t be in a position to advise of any insurers who may recognise his Irish NCB as it varies from insurer to insurer.”

I approached some UK insurers directly and it appears many of them do accept NCBs earned in the Republic of Ireland.

As an example, this was Axa’s response: “We accept No Claims Discount earned in Southern Ireland.

“We will accept proof of No Claims Discount from the following policies: A private car, company car and mobility car.

“We will also accept No Claims Discount from motorbike policies providing the policyholder is aged 22 or over.”

Company car evidence must have been earned in the last six months, be provided on company letter headed paper and signed by a director or the Fleet Manager.

”We will accept proof of No Claims Discount provided:

  • The policy was issued by an insurance company in the UK including Southern Ireland
  • The No Claims Discount was earned in the policyholder’s name
  • It was earned within the last 24 months and is not currently in use on another policy.”

Mr Aldworth said the length of their stay in the UK would also affect their ability to bring their own car with them.

“If the reader opts to bring their current car with them to the UK then they would need to adhere to the UK’s rules around car imports,” he said.

“If, for example, their stay in the UK is of less than six months then they would not need to register the car in the UK.”

Full info on importing cars to the UK can be found at www.gov.uk. You can usually use a vehicle with foreign number plates without registering or taxing it in the UK if all of the following apply:

  • You’re visiting and don’t plan to live here, the vehicle is registered and taxed in its home country and you only use the vehicle for up to 6 months in total — this can be a single visit, or several shorter visits over 12 months.
  • If you become a resident or stay for longer than six months you must register and tax your vehicle in the UK.
  • If you are staying longer, you can find detailed information on how to import a vehicle at the same site.

Steps include telling HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) within 14 days that the vehicle has arrived in the UK, paying VAT and duty if HMRC tells you to, getting vehicle approval to show your vehicle meets safety and environmental standards and registering and taxing the vehicle with DVLA — they will give you a registration number so you can get number plates made up.You must also insure your vehicle before you drive it on UK roads.

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