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Independent

Why you're probably handing over more than you need to by not regularly keeping an eye out for better insurance deals

OFFICIAL figures indicate that the cost of motor insurance has gone up modestly. Shopping around could save you up to €180 a year as insurers hike up premiums – Charlie Weston

The Central Statistics Office has calculated that the average premium rate is up close to 7pc.

This has added €20 to the cost of a €300 policy.

But insurance professionals reckon the price spirals have been much greater.

Senior executive with insurance broker Chill.ie, Fergal Lynch, said his firm had come across insurers attempting to push through premium rises of between €120 and €200 when policies were being renewed.

"We have seen premiums increasing across most insurers operating in the Irish motor market this year. These increases are on the back of a loss making year in 2013 for motor insurance.

"We have also seen reduced capacity in this area of the market with some insurers exiting the market."

Mr Lynch was reacting to news that motorists face paying more for insurance to make up for massive losses racked up by the industry.

Premiums

Insurers here collectively lost €192m last year on motor cover alone, prompting analysts to warn that drivers were going to have their premiums hiked in the coming months.

The losses were revealed by Insurance Ireland, the representative body for the industry.

Financial analyst with Davy Stockbrokers, Emer Lang, said the deficits would mean more insurance misery for drivers, especially as claims were rising.

"The significant motor losses incurred in 2013 and the increase in claims incidence reported by insurers FBD and RSA in the first half of 2014 point to a need for rate rises," she wrote in a report.

She said that RSA has pushed up its premiums by 15pc in the last year, while the Central Statistics Office found motor premiums were up by 5.9pc in the year to August.

A similar rise in premiums in the next year would mean the cost of insuring a typical car would have risen by €50 in just two years.

Massive losses recorded by the biggest motor insurer, RSA, saw it push up private motor premiums by 15pc last year.

The British-owed company, which includes brokerage 123.ie, was forced to pump €252m into its Irish division after huge accounting discrepancies were discovered, prompting the sacking of its senior executives here.

Insurance sources insisted that a large chunk of the overall industry losses are due to RSA's troubles.

However, FBD hiked its motor rates in July and October last year. They went up again in February, April, May, July and August this year, according to Ms Lang.

She said there were "more to follow" from FBD.

Michael Kilcoyne of the Consumers Association said insurers should control their costs and make sure they are not paying out for fraudulent claims.

Seek out value

Surveys by the National Consumer Agency repeatedly show that there are massive savings to be made from seeking out a better deal from your insurer.

Research from the NCA shows that the vast majority of consumers, who opted for a different provider, saved money - and found the switching process easy.

The NCA said it was highly likely that consumers were overpaying for services. Director of consumer contacts at the NCA,Fergal O'Leary, said: "It is very likely that consumers are paying more than they need to by not checking regularly to see if there are better deals available to them."

Savings of €180 a year can be made by opting for a more keenly priced insurance policy.

However, almost half of consumers have never checked to see if they could get better value by moving to a different health insurer, electricity or gas supplier.

Overall, around four out of 10 have switched at least one provider, with most moving to get better-value car insurance.

Top tips for keeping insurance costs down

Switch insurers or challenge your current insurer. Simon Moynihan of price comparison site Bonkers.ie says. "Wait for your renewal letter. Take action by calling three other insurers and seeing if they can beat your quote. If they can, call your own insurance company and ask them to match. If they won't, switch."

Protect your no-claims bonus. It may seem pre-emptive but it could save you a lot if disaster strikes.

Review the value of your car when renewing insurance. Cars depreciate year-on-year, so you should be insuring a progressively smaller amount each year.

Don't always assume third party insurance is cheaper. It seems strange, but sometimes fully comprehensive can be cheaper.

Some insurers give you the option of cheaper cover if you pay a higher excess. This is the amount of a claim you have to pay before getting a pay-out.

If you overestimate the value of your car, the insurance will cost you more. If you have a fire or theft claim, the insurer will only pay what they consider to be the market value of the car, no matter what you insured it for.

Don't under insure either, because it will be difficult to replace your car if you need to, according to the National Consumer Agency.

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