Like a lot of people, I was shocked to hear last week that two major car insurance providers in Ireland would no longer insure cars of 15 years and over for new customers.
It’s a worrying development for consumers. Will other insurance providers follow suit? With less competition in the market, will premiums rise for insuring older cars? Cars of ten years of age and older already undergo a yearly NCT to prove roadworthiness, but even a valid NCT cert will not waive this exclusion.
If you are driving around in a car that is 15 years or older, chances are that you cannot afford a new or nearly-new one. You might be a learner driver on your first car or maybe you have a car that runs perfectly well and you just think “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”, or in this case “don’t replace it”. You might be an enthusiast who loves cars and gets a kick out of driving and preserving a “future classic” (at least in your eyes that’s what it is!).
To be fair, the reasons cited by the two insurers in question for this exclusion have been gleaned from their own data from claims that show that these older cars are more high risk, involved in more collisions and are more likely to be involved in fraudulent claims. If that’s their data, you can’t really argue since the insurance business is about calculating risk.
Yet, I can’t help feeling that it’s just another nail in the coffin for the old, but well-kept car. A yearly NCT for cars over ten years means the majority of what’s out there from this vintage should be roadworthy.
But of course that’s not the case. There are car owners who flout the laws and ignore the NCT, and effectively drive around illegally and get away with it. That’s a policing issue.
The fraudulent claims. They need to be stamped out. There will always be those who ignore the rules and give a middle finger to the authorities. And the rest of us will pay for it.
Are older cars unsafe, more likely to suffer from some catastrophic failure on the road? Data from the Road Safety Authority for 2012 shows that vehicle condition was only a contributory factor in 0.2% of all fatal and serious-injury collisions that occurred in that year, so it seems a bit unfair to brand all of these cars unsafe. If they have an NCT cert, they should be roadworthy. Yet again there are outliers. We’ve all seen them on the road.
It’s hard to be an old car. There are dire warnings of an ageing fleet of cars. Motor tax rates for cars registered pre-2008 are crippling enough meaning that many fine examples of cars are now on the scrap heap because they are just too expensive to run. And now it’s possible that it will just become too difficult and expensive to insure them.
It’s believed that this latest exclusion affects up to 250,000 car owners. The AA is urging motorists not to panic, saying that there are many other insurance providers that will cover your car and it’s worth shopping around as there is still good and relative bad value to be had in the market.
Yet I can’t help feeling the odds are stacked against the owners of old cars.