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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 November 2005, 10:52 GMT
NI drivers still paying more
NI motorists pay higher insurance premiums than their UK counterparts
Motorists in Northern Ireland are still paying significantly more for car insurance than their UK counterparts, the Automobile Association has said.

According to a new insurance comparison given to the BBC by the AA, premiums in NI are at least 10% higher than the UK's accident and theft hotspots.

In the past, crime and civil unrest have been cited as reasons why motorists in Northern Ireland pay more for insurance than drivers in the UK.

However, a recent survey by Endsleigh insurance found that 30% fewer cars were stolen in Belfast than the UK average.

The same survey found that drivers in Northern Ireland's capital were less likely to have an accident than in any other city in the UK.

According to the AA, average premiums in Northern Ireland cost 10% more than in London and Manchester and are also 25% higher than Birmingham.

Insurers blame higher premiums in Northern Ireland on the fact that the province's courts make higher personal injury awards.

Gerry Lee of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society
Gerry Lee said many claims are settled out of court

However, solicitors believe this is no longer the case.

Gerry Lee of the Motor Accident Solicitors' Society told BBC Newsline many claims were now settled out of court.

"The County Court will confirm that there are very few claims these days going to court compared to many years ago," he said.

"That is because the insurance industry and a lot of the claimants' solicitors are able to settle a lot of claims and that means insurance companies are quite happy to pay these awards."

He added that some insurers had begun to reduce their premiums, but other companies were "lagging behind".

Car insurance brokers have said that, on the whole, Northern Ireland's motorists are getting a better deal than ever before.

But the question remains - is that good enough?


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