Getting insurance quotes
The insurance market changes all the time and shopping around for the best quote can save you money and ensure that you get the right level of cover for your needs. Non-life insurances, like home, car, health and general liability insurance, have to be renewed every year. Your insurance company must send you a renewal notice at least 20 days before your renewal date and include the following:
- the premiums paid for the policy in the previous five years, and
- a list of any claims, including third party claims paid by the insurer to the consumer or to a third party(ies) in the previous five years.
It is the responsibility of the insurance company to ask the consumer all relevant questions in the application process so they get all the information required. The questions must be in plain intelligible language. The consumer is required to answer fully and honestly all the questions set out in the application process.
Consumers are not required to give any additional information to the insurance company at renewal time unless the insurance company has specifically asked for it.
If you are buying long-term insurance policies, such as life insurance, you should first consider your needs carefully and shop around for insurance that suits you and secondly gives you long-term value. You should ensure that the level of cover in place is suitable to your current needs and circumstances. The level of cover can be increased or reduced as your circumstances change.
Remember, the policy offering the lowest premium may not always be the best value for money.
If there is a change to the policy terms and conditions for either non-life or life insurance policies, the insurance company must notify a consumer of this change within 20 working days before renewal.
The two main ways to buy insurance are directly from an insurance company or indirectly through your bank or a broker. The premium for an identical policy with the same company may be different, depending on whether you buy it directly from the company or through a bank/broker. Brokers may have special deals or may be able to provide a quotation from a specialist insurer in Ireland or Europe.
You can get quotes online or by telephone but you may get special rates if you buy insurance online as the costs to arrange it can be lower.
When you are shopping around for insurance, don’t forget to bargain, especially with insurance policies that need to be renewed annually. If you get a good quote from one company, it is often worth checking if your existing insurer is prepared to match it or do better, in order to keep your business.
Remember when you get a quote from an insurance company, this is usually only valid for a certain amount of time, so make sure to ask the insurer.
Take note of exactly how much extra you are paying if you decide to pay your insurance by instalments. By law, you must be told the cost of credit and the APR. The APR allows you to compare the cost of paying by instalments with different providers.
If you are part of a group insurance scheme, through your job or other associations, you may be able to get better value than as an individual.
Information you must be given
Under the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code, firms must:
- Tell you how long their quote is valid for.
- Make sure you are aware of any special conditions or restrictions that apply to the cover they are offering you (for serious illness cover only).
- Tell you about any discounts that apply or any extra premium being charged, when they give you a quote.
- Tell you that your cover or any claim you make, could be affected if you give incorrect or incomplete information when applying for cover – for example, this includes you telling your insurer you do not smoke, but you actually do.
- Issue your policy document within 10 business days of providing you with cover.
Things to consider
- What type and level of cover best meets my needs?
- How many quotes will my broker look for? Does my broker provide extra services, such as help with making claims?
- What fee, if any, will I be charged by my broker or bank? Is this instead of commission or will they also receive commission?
- Could I get a lower quote by dealing directly with the insurance company or looking online?
- What loadings are the insurance company applying in my case?
- Do I qualify for any discounts?
- Can I reduce my premium if I choose a larger excess?
- What is included in the policy and what is excluded?
Things to do when buying insurance
It is the responsibility of the insurance company to ask the relevant questions in the application process so that all the information required is received through these answers. The questions must be in plain intelligible language. The consumer is required to answer fully and honestly all the questions set out in the application process. If you do not, your policy may not be valid and you may be unable to make a claim
- Keep track of quotes: use our shopping around checklists for motor insurance and home insurance to help you keep track of quotes and benefits from different insurers.
- Always cancel old policies: if you move to another provider, make sure you cancel your old policy and any payment you set up, such as a direct debit. It is advisable to inform your bank in writing, as well as your insurer.
When an insurance company cancels your policy they:
- must repay any outstanding balance to you if you have paid your premium in full;
- must provide the reason for cancellation; and
- cannot impose a charge or fee on you for cancelling the policy.
Last updated on 28 September 2021