Getting motor insurance on your return to Ireland
Drivers in Ireland are legally obliged to have motor insurance under the Road Traffic Act 1961. Motor insurance (also known as car insurance) protects you against liability in the event of an accident.
This document covers buying motor insurance after your return to Ireland. It includes information on how to show evidence of your driving history abroad and what to do if you are refused cover by Irish insurance providers.
What is a no claims discount?
A no claims discount (also known as no claims bonus) is a discount on car insurance given to motorists with a claims free record. It is built up over the years and gives the policyholder a substantial reduction in the cost of premiums.
If you have had no insurance in your own name for 2 or more years, or if you have been insured abroad, many insurers will not give you a no claims discount when you reapply for insurance cover.
Do insurers take my driving history abroad into account?
Each motor insurer will take different circumstances into account when developing a car insurance quote for returning emigrants.
A protocol agreed between the Department of Finance and Insurance Ireland means that since 2017, insurers will take overseas driving experience into consideration as long as you can provide proof of claims-free driving experience abroad.
In general, motor insurers will take into account your no claims history from the EEA and Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, South Africa, and the USA.
When buying car insurance in Ireland you may be asked to supply proof of your driving history and no claims record. Make sure you have the following documents:
- A no claims discount statement
- An additional letter or other official document from your last insurer stating the circumstances of your insurance cover (dates and type of cover) and your no claims driving history
- Records of your previous driving experience in Ireland, if you have any
While you are still living abroad, you should make sure your current insurer can give you these documents and arrange translation if necessary.
If you have been abroad for less than two years
Your no claims discount usually remains valid for 2 years from the last date on which your policy was in force. This means if you have been abroad for less than 2 years, your no claims discount will apply. Your no claims discount is based on your previous driving experience in your own name.
Insurance providers insuring returning Irish emigrants
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFA) contacted motor insurance underwriters operating in Ireland to find out from them how they treat returning emigrants and what information is needed from returning emigrants to secure the best possible quote.
The DFA then created a list of insurers that indicated that they insure returning emigrants and that they can take into account no claims discounts and experience driving abroad.
You can access this list directly from the DFA. You can also contact insurance brokers who specialise in sourcing insurance quotes for returning emigrants (the DFA suggests that social media groups for returning Irish emigrant may be a good source of information on brokers).
What can I do if I am refused motor insurance?
The Irish motor insurance market also operates a Declined Cases Agreement. Under the Agreement, individual insurers have the right to refuse you cover, but they must provide you with a reason for the refusal should you ask for one.
You are entitled to go to the Declined Cases Committee of Insurance Ireland who will get an insurance quotation for you. You must first have sought and been refused quotations in writing from at least 3 insurers for the Committee to consider your case.
Insurance Ireland has more information on what to do if you are refused motor insurance cover.
If you would like to make a complaint against a motor insurance provider that operates in Ireland you can get more information on how to do so from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.