Good news on premiums but you need to shop around to save cash
It has been a long time since we have had any good news on the motor insurance front but finally there is some cheer for hard-pressed motorists. The cost of motor insurance fell in April for the first time in years.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show motor premiums were 2.6pc lower in April compared with a year earlier.
It comes after three years of rises during which the cost of an average policy shot up by 60pc.
The last time motor insurance fell was in December 2013, according to additional information obtained from the CSO.
This does not necessarily mean your next renewal quote will be lower, because insurance costs have been rising for all of 2016.
But it does mean that the era of surging premium rates seems to be coming to an end.
There is some evidence that claims costs are easing. Judges are increasingly throwing out cases where they suspect insurance claimants are trying it on.
Director of general services at the Irish Brokers Association, Brian McNelis, feels we are over the worst on 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."
Here are some ways to keep your costs as low as possible.
Almost 80pc of Irish motorists will shop around at the time of their next car insurance renewal in an attempt to reduce costs, according to a survey from AA Ireland.
However, it also highlighted that some lesser-known steps to reduce premiums are being ignored by most drivers.
AA director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan says: "In the current climate, shopping around and not simply taking the renewal quote your current provider offers you is becoming increasingly important, and it seems more and more of us are getting this message."
If you are claims-free, it makes sense to regularly switch insurer. Compare rates from different companies by ringing them 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.
Increase the excess
Just one-in-10 drivers considers increasing the excess on their policy, according to the AA survey. The excess is the amount you pay when you make a claim. The higher the excess, the lower the premium. Mr Faughnan says this is a savings method that is being ignored by most drivers.
Another tip to keep the 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 overvalue their car.
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 EU 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
To ensure you pay the same this year as next, you could opt for two-year cover, which is offered by Blue Insurance. This means 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 your cover on a monthly basis is the same thing 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 monthly instalments.