Charlie Weston: Top tips to help you curb the cost of your car insurance
Drivers have been hit hard by increases in motor premiums, but the good news is that premium rises are set to stabilise this year.
Insurance premiums have been rising non-stop for two years.
The insurance industry blames the surge on what it said was a spike in the number of motor accident personal injury claims.
Insurance Ireland pointed to increases in the level of awards and frequency of compensation secured through the courts last year.
An updated book of quantum - essentially a guide to injury payout levels in the courts, Injury Board and directly by insurers - has now been issued in the hope of bringing some consistency to award levels.
Rises in the cost of premiums have been so high that experts now see them levelling off this year.
Director of general services at the Irish Brokers Association, Brian McNelis, feels we are over the worst when it comes to prices rises.
"With reduced losses being reported by the insurers and with the Government determined to deal with the issues affecting premiums, we are hopeful that 2017 will bring a form of stabilisation to the market."
Regardless of what happens you still can save money so here are some ways to fight back against the high premiums.
If you are claims-free, it makes sense to regularly switch insurer. Compare rates by ringing different companies or going online. It is worthwhile using a broker. It won't cost you any more than going directly to the insurer as the broker is paid by the company.
Other tips to keep costs down include being conservative with the car's value. This is important as you can only claim what the vehicle is deemed to be worth by the insurance company's assessor. People often over-value their car.
Check the excess
And be careful about excesses. This is the amount you have to pay before you can make a claim. Lately, insurers are imposing higher and higher excesses. This reduces the risks for them, but means you end up not claiming for small accidents. Excesses of €500 are not uncommon, but when they get to that level, they negate the value of having insurance.
Get a discount by using telematics
Telematics is a way of monitoring the location, movements, status and behaviour of a vehicle. You can do it through a smartphone. Insurer AIG offers discounts of up to 20pc on motor cover for using an app that monitors driving style. AIG says it aims to reward better driving behaviour with potential savings of up to 25pc on car insurance premiums.
Men, get insured with Its4women
Online insurer Its4women markets its motor insurance at females but the law means it cannot refuse to cover men. Because most of its customers are women, who are safer drivers and have fewer claims, it tends to be more competitive than motor cover sold equally to both sexes.
A recent European Union gender directive, which became the law in this country, means men and women can't be discriminated against in terms of the price of insurance.
Take out two-year cover
The cost of motor premiums are predicted to keep rising this year. To ensure you pay the same this year as next, you could opt for two-year cover which is offered on motor insurance by Blue Insurance. This means that the premium you pay this year will be the same again next year. And if you have an accident in the two-year period, your premium will not rise.
Pay for your cover annually if you can afford to do this. Paying for cover on a monthly basis is the same as taking a high-interest loan from your provider, with the interest as high as 20pc imposed on top of the premium for paying by instalments.