Car Insurance

Members' Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 10:45 am on 16 April 2024.

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Photo of Nicola Brogan Nicola Brogan Sinn Féin 10:45, 16 April 2024

I want to highlight the significant increases in car insurance prices, which are crippling workers and families, many of whom are already struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. Over the past year, many people have seen their car insurance quotes increase at unprecedented rates, even if they have not had an accident, received a speeding fine or had a change in circumstances. Some drivers have been unfairly charged on the basis of a postcode lottery, with people in some constituencies being charged significantly more than others on the basis of their home address rather than their driving history.

In January, it was reported that the average car insurance price this year is £383 more expensive than last year, and those costs continue to surge. The average insurance policy for motorists here is now £1,000, which would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. That has a deep impact and knock-on effect on workers and families. I have heard countless examples of first-time drivers passing their test and then being unable to afford to get on to the road.

People struggle to pay those high insurance rates alongside high fuel prices and other costs. Insurers say that the increases are due to inflation and the cost of car parts and replacements. However, during the pandemic, when there was a dramatic drop in travel, we did not see insurers issue the same dramatic drop in insurance prices. The reality is that the insurance industry is making huge profits while workers and families struggle to cope with increasing costs.

Unfortunately, the Executive have no power over financial regulation. The Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority in Britain are responsible for challenging insurers on unfair hikes in insurance premiums. It is beyond time that those regulators held insurers to account. That needs to happen urgently.

The British Government should explore ways to alleviate the costs, such as reducing the 12% premium insurance tax that is being lumped into people's renewal quotes. Sinn Féin will continue to press the insurance industry on the spiralling prices and stand up for the people who are struggling to afford the costs.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

That brings to a conclusion Members' statements. I ask Members to take their ease before the next item of business while the Principal Deputy Speaker takes the Chair.

(Madam Principal Deputy Speaker [Ms Ní Chuilín] in the Chair)