OFT finds car insurance rates 11% higher in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s car insurance rates are 11 per cent more expensive on average than the rest of the United Kingdom, according to a new investigation by consumer watchdog OFT.

The OFT’s recent report also found that the cost of motor car insurance was anywhere between 30 to 70 per cent higher in Northern Ireland’s rural areas than they were in similar locations in England, Wales, and Scotland, prompting the Consumer Council to urge the Assembly to take action to rectify the matter.  Consumer Council representative, Antoinette McKeown, say that car insurance companies in NI are putting rural policyholders at great disadvantage by the higher premiums.

Such massive insurance premiums can have an exclusionary effect on rural consumers in both economic and social matters, Ms McKeown added.  Northern Ireland, which has significant numbers of individuals living in rural areas, leaves a substantial population of its residents dependent on cars to visit family and friends, attend college, or take jobs, the Consumer Council expert also said.

The OFT also said that it had reviewed evidence that made the suggestion that Northern Ireland not only had higher car accident rates, but also experienced more expensive legal costs and personal injury compensation levels as a result of car accident claims.  British Insurance Brokers Association spokesperson, Graham Treadmill, also commented on the new findings, remarking that the legal system was primarily to blame for the high premium prices in Northern Ireland.

The courts in NI see a larger number of cases heading to court, Mr Treadmill said, adding that the rest of the UK saw much more modest compensation awards in many cases than those seen in Northern Ireland.  The BIBA representative gave the example of the loss of an eye, which could result in anywhere between £65,000 to £90,000 in compensation in Northen Ireland, while courts in other regions would only award from £30,000 to £40,000 in such an instance.

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