Welcome to NorthernIrelandCarInsurance.net, where we’ll be bringing you the breaking news on motor insurance in Northern Ireland.

We’ll let you know about the best deals in car insurance, industry news and latest offers not only on car insurance but also motorbike insurance, home insurance and business insurance and breakdown cover.

Why it pays to protect your no claims discount

Northern Ireland drivers making a claim on their motor insurance policy with an unprotected no claims discount (NCD) could see the cost of their premiums go up by nearly three-quarters.

Research by Money Supermarket suggests a car insurance policy-holder in Northern Ireland or elsewhere in the UK who had five years' unprotected NCD would have their premiums hiked from £528 to £911, an increase of 73 per cent.

In contrast, motorists with five years' protected NCD making a claim would only see an 18 per cent rise in the price of their average premium, from £590 to £694.

The comparison site's Steve Sweeney affirms that Northern Ireland motor insurance customers who build up their NCD over a number of years can avail of "a valuable commodity" and trim the cost of their premiums significantly.

"But be warned, if you protect your policy but don't make a claim for a number of years, you could find that you are eroding any potential savings," he adds.

Northern Ireland car insurance customers are also reminded that some providers allow multiple claims on protected policies without penalty, while others will allow only two claims.

Ageism still a problem for older car insurance customers

Northern Ireland motorists aged 80 and older are still often discriminated against when they seek car insurance quotes, according to research by Age Concern and Help the Aged.

The charity's study suggests that half of motor insurance providers automatically exclude drivers in that age bracket who approach them for a quote – regardless of the health status of the vehicle owner in question.

Andrew Harrop, head of public policy at the charity, explains that the research was released to coincide with the publication of the Government Equalities Office's response to a consultation entitled "Ending Age Discrimination in Goods and Public Services", in relation to the Equality Bill.

In it, the Office recommends the continued use of upper age limits and the insurance industry's refusal of quotes, something that Age Concern and Help the Aged claim endorses – and possibly increases – age discrimination across the sector.

He adds that the decision confirms older people as "second-class" consumers: "The insurance industry must wake up to the fact that more of us than ever are living longer, healthier and more active lives.

"Continuing to discriminate against our ageing population is not only bad for older people, it is bad for business."

Car insurance consequences of ‘frost-jacking’ highlighted

Northern Ireland car insurance customers living in areas still affected by freezing weather conditions should make sure they don't leave their vehicle unattended with the engine running while they de-ice it. Otherwise, they're presenting an "open invitation to opportunist thieves" and risking becoming a victim of "frost-jacking".

That's according to researchers who have discovered that 42 per cent of motorists across Northern Ireland and the wider UK leave their vehicle unattended with the engine running while they return indoors to wait for the windscreen to clear.

Furthermore, uSwitch.com's experts say one in ten motorists are "blissfully unaware" that their car could be targeted by thieves while they de-ice it, while 41 per cent believe keeping an eye on their vehicle from the inside of their home is enough to prevent an opportunist thief from striking.

"It may be tempting to stay inside in the warm while leaving your car alone to de-ice, but insurers are likely to take a dim view on a claimant who has left themselves vulnerable to crime in this way," notes the site's Mark Monteiro. "If your insurer refuses to pay out you could be left footing the bill for a new car on your own."

New driver disqualification rules to boost Northern Ireland road safety

A new agreement between ministers across Ireland, Northern Ireland and the wider UK means drivers disqualified for serious motoring offences in the Republic of Ireland will no longer escape punishment when they return home.

Similarly, disqualifications earned by Irish motorists while in the UK will be recognised and enforced when they return to the Republic.

Northern Ireland road safety minister Edwin Poots commented that a reduction in the number of road deaths and serious injuries since the mid-1990s means "we now have some of the safest roads in the world".

“But we need to continue to work tirelessly to make our roads even safer and, if a UK driver commits a serious offence while in another jurisdiction, it is right that their disqualification should still apply when they return home," he added.

"This new law will ensure that disqualified drivers are not able to escape their punishment and so keep dangerous drivers off the roads."

Northern Ireland car insurance experts have also pointed out that the new law, which took effect last week, is the first practical step to recognise driving disqualifications in Europe under the terms of the 1998 European Convention on driving disqualifications.

Northern Ireland travel safer and greener with speed technology

Safety would be boosted and pollution reduced if a system to control the speed of cars on Northern Ireland's roads was introduced. The Sustainable Development Commission proposes that "intelligent speed adaption" be used to ensure motorists do not break the speed limit, in a move also likely to shake up the car insurance landscape.

"While information technology alone will not provide all the answers, it could go a long way towards making travel in Northern Ireland safer, more pleasant and more sustainable," says Jim Kitchen, head of the Commission in the region.

First investigated by England's Department of Transport, intelligent speed adaption technology would be linked to a vehicle's engine and braking system, controlling its speed to ensure it does not exceed the legal limit.

In its report, "Smarter Moves: How Information Communications Technology can promote Sustainable Mobility", the Commission notes that greenhouse gas emissions from road transport represented almost a third of Northern Ireland's total carbon output in 2007.

The body suggests that information technology solutions could help cut emissions, congestion, accidents and noise levels, as well as improving health and air quality by reducing the need to travel and helping people to drive more efficiently.

New car insurance product for seasoned Northern Ireland drivers

Experienced motorists in Northern Ireland are welcoming the launch of a new car insurance product aimed directly at their end of the market.

The arrival of AXA Car insurance also comes on the heels of the latest AA British Insurance Premium Index, which highlighted the biggest-ever jump upward in the cost of UK car insurance during the last three months of 2009.

Motorists in Northern Ireland who have been claim-free for eight years or more can benefit from a no claims discount of up to 90 per cent from AXA – that's the highest level available in the market at the moment.

Another attraction boasted by the new motor insurance product is a courtesy car in instances of fire and theft. Furthermore, £1 million Driver Injury Cover – an add-on priced at £34.99 per year – provides protection against medical costs and loss of earnings for motorists injured in accidents that are their own fault.

Tina Shortle from AXA, who notes that experienced drivers make up "well over a third" of the driving population, comments: "At a time when prices are rising sharply in this market, we felt that drivers with a proven track record deserved more."

Cost of UK car insurance policies forced up in 2009

Car insurance costs across Northern Ireland and the wider UK surged in the last three months of 2009, with even the cheapest quotes going up by over 11 per cent. The car insurance analysts behind the latest AA British Insurance Premium Index say it's down to the growing frequency of personal injury claims and sharp rises in settlement costs, as well as increases in fraud.

According to AA Insurance's data, young drivers in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK have been worst hit by the growing expense of car insurance premiums, though costs are also on the up for parents aged between 40 and 49 because they put children as named drivers on their policies.

Simon Douglas from AA Insurance reveals that the average quoted premium for comprehensive car insurance had accelerated by 18.7 per cent by the end of 2009.

Despite a drop in the number of accidents on the nation's roads, the cost of accident damage has also been rising steadily, he notes.

While Douglas doesn't rule out a continuing increase in the cost of car insurance over the coming months, it may be contained by legislation changes allowing for the issue of electronic insurance certificates.

Northern Ireland motorists risk doubling car insurance costs

Car insurance customers in Northern Ireland have extra reason to be vigilant on the roads during the winter since just two accidents can double the cost of their premiums, the latest research affirms.

According to data uncovered by Confused.com's motoring experts, there were increases of over 200 per cent among hundreds of motor insurance quotes they analysed before any accidents were recorded and again after two accidents had been reported.

"When you consider the average premium in 2009 was £400 that's a lot of money to lose and let's face it, there are far better things you could be spending it on," remarked the comparison site's Will Thomas. "In a year when we expect premiums to rise anyway, ensuring you shop around and don't just accept your renewal will absolutely help."

In addition to the latter recommendation, Northern Ireland car insurance customers are urged not to drive in bad weather unless they "absolutely have to", to avoid braking sharply on icy roads, approach corners at lower speeds and apply their brake gently and for longer when decelerating.

In flood conditions, the advice is to take puddles slowly and avoid them altogether if you're unsure of the depth.

Boy racer reminder for Northern Ireland car insurance customers

Northern Ireland car insurance customers have been reminded of the costly effect that speeding convictions can have on the price of their premiums, though the region pales in comparison to other parts of the UK when it comes to housing boy racers.

In its analysis of almost three million motor insurance quotes over a year from people with driving convictions, comparison site Money Supermarket found that Scotland, Swindon and Sheffield are home to the most speeding convictions across the nation. Their research revealed that over half of speeding convictions in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland belong to male motorists aged between 17 and 21.

"It is telling there are no female drivers anywhere near the top of the table in our analysis of speeding convictions, and unfortunately this is reflected in the price of premiums for men when compared to women," said the site's Steve Sweeney, who warned that motorists in Northern Ireland and the wider UK convicted of speeding could see their car insurance costs almost double.

Furthermore, he noted, "serial speeders" will eventually find that fewer car insurance providers are willing to offer them cover at all, and if they do it will be at an increasingly high cost.

Business use cover essential if you take your car out for work

The attention of car insurance customers in Northern Ireland and the wider UK is being drawn to the tendency of some employers to put their staff at risk of driving uninsured by encouraging them to use their own vehicles for work, without warning them they need business use cover on their car insurance to do so.

Research reveals that 72 per cent of workers in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK have used their own wheels for business purposes in the last year, but over a third don't have business use cover on their motor insurance policy.

Gocompare.com also uncovered that only 38 per cent of workers say their boss has discussed the need for business use cover on their car insurance when they take their own vehicle on company business such as travelling to a training course, going to the bank or driving to another office.

"Companies shouldn't assume that workers with private car insurance are covered for driving their vehicle while at work," says the site's Lee Griffin. "Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure that vehicles used on company business are safe to use – this includes being fully insured for business usage."