Car Insurance

Your complete guide to car insurance

Whether you’re a young driver or an experienced motorist, here’s what you need to know about car insurance with tips on picking cover for your car.

What’s in this guide?

Part 1

How car insurance works in Ireland

What is car insurance?

It’s compulsory insurance all motorists need to drive on Ireland’s roads.

Car insurance provides financial protection if you’re involved in an accident that results in damage. Some types of car insurance also covers you for fire, theft and personal injury.

Car damage is often expensive and proving responsibility for costs can be time consuming, so cover not only saves you money on repairs but helps with sorting out liability when accidents happen.

The price of your cover is based on a range of factors and premiums are paid monthly or annually.

Is it a legal requirement?

Yes, you’re legally obliged to have motor insurance under the Road Traffic Act, 1961. As a minimum, you need to have third party cover. Everyone who drives a motor vehicle on Irish roads needs to buy it.

Driving without insurance is a criminal offence. You could get 5 penalty points with a fine of €5,000. It could also lead to disqualification or a prison sentence.

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car insurance learner

Do you need cover when learning to drive?

Yes you do, but if you choose to learn to drive in a certified instructor’s car then you’ll normally be covered by their car insurance policy.

However, if you own a car and want driving practice or want to build up your no-claims bonus before you’ve passed your test, you’ll need to take out learner driver car insurance.

What if you’re driving someone else’s car?

You’ll need to be a “named driver” on a policy if you’re driving another person’s car.

If you’re driving your partner’s car you’ll need to make sure you are covered on their policy and if you’re learning in a parent’s car, they will need to add you to their policy before you can drive on the road.

Part 2

Types of car insurance in Ireland

There are three main types of car insurance which offer different levels of protection.

3rd Party

The minimum level of cover, it compensates third parties if you cause an accident. Damage to your car won’t be covered.

3rd Party, Fire & Theft

Covers third parties plus protection for damage to your vehicle caused by fire or theft. Damage by vandalism isn’t covered.


Covers all parties involved in accidents, including your car and belongings. Plus theft & damage caused by vandalism.

What about extra benefits?

You can pay extra for things that aren’t included in your policy, but it’s worth checking you don’t already have add-ons included in your policy.

Here’s some of the add-ons usually available in Ireland:

Windscreen cover

Windscreen cover helps with the cost of repairing or replacing your damaged car windscreen.

It typically just covers the cost of having the glass of your car windscreen and or windows replaced or repaired but sometimes it covers any damage to the body of your car caused by windscreen damage, for example, paintwork scratches from shattered glass.

Any damage that impairs your ability to see the road poses a danger to you or your passengers, so windscreen cover ensures you can carry out repairs immediately.

Windscreen insurance typically covers multiple repairs in the year, but only one complete screen replacement.

Legal expenses

You can add motor legal protection to your car insurance to pay for legal action and assistance if you have an accident or a complex claim.

You can use it to cover legal expenses if a motorist claims against you, but you can also recover losses through the courts if you’re involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault.

Legal expenses up to €100,000 are usually covered but the maximum amount will differ between insurers.

Motorbike Insurance

Insure your motorcycle

Motorbike insurance ensures financial cover if things go wrong but it can be pricey. Find out how to get cheap quotes & stay safe on the road.

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Van Insurance

Insure your commercial van

Rely on your van for work? The right cover can protect your finances & get you back on the road fast. Learn how to get the best van quotes.

Tell me more

Classic Car Insurance

Insure your classic car

If you’re passionate about your classic car finding the best car insurance is crucial. Learn how to find a policy to protect your pride and joy.

Tell me more

Other types of car insurance

Other types of car insurance for specific needs or circumstances are summarised here:

Black box insurance

This type of cover uses telematics to monitor driving and premiums are based on how safely you drive. Telematics uses GPS technology to capture:

  • Journey data like travel time and distance plus the number of trips
  • Driving data like speed travelled, acceleration, braking, cornering and impact detection
  • Road data like elevation and road type

Learn more about black box insurance in our guide.

GAP insurance

GAP stands for Guaranteed Asset Protection and it covers the potential payout shortfall should your new car get stolen or written off.

Brand new cars lose up to 40% of their value in the first year they’re driven, so if you write off your new car or it gets stolen, you’ll be left out of pocket when you claim because insurance companies only pay the market value of your vehicle.

GAP cover pays the difference between the amount you receive from your car insurance provider and the amount it costs to replace your car.

A GAP insurance policy typically lasts up to three years, and you’ll have to buy it in addition to your compulsory car insurance.

Car hire excess insurance

If you plan to hire a car in Ireland or on holiday abroad, there’s usually an option to purchase car hire excess insurance, also known as ‘excess waiver cover’.

This covers the excess you must pay for repair or replacement if your rental car is damaged or stolen.

You can buy it directly from your car rental firm, but it can be expensive and if you buy it on the spot, you may not have time to read the T&Cs.

Alternatively, you can buy a ‘stand-alone’ car hire excess policy from a broker before you go on holiday. You can generally get it as a daily rate for your holiday or purchase an annual policy for regular or long-term car hire.

Temporary or short-term car insurance

This type of cover can last from one hour to several months. It’s handy if you need temporary car insurance for work, delivery driving and personal use. Short-term car cover is usually only offered as a comprehensive policy.

You can also temporarily change the vehicle on your existing policy for up to 31 days, but this depends on the insurer. This would be subject to an administration charge.

Temporary car insurance isn’t widely available in Ireland at the moment, although it’s available to delivery drivers and riders who may also use it for personal driving.

Insuring more than one vehicle

Many households now own more than one car. Alternatively, you may have a family car but ride a motorbike for leisure and a van for work. If this is the case, then multi-car insurance is worth consideration.

Multi-car insurance allows you to insure more than one vehicle registered at the same address on a single policy. You can usually insure each car with its own level of cover.

It’s worth shopping for an insurer offering the best rates for a multi-vehicle household.

Find out more about types of car insurance and which level of cover is right for you.

Types of car insurance

Part 3

How to reduce the cost of cover


The average cost of car insurance in Ireland

The cost of car insurance has been falling since its peak in 2017.

Source: NCID Private Motor Insurance Report 1, 2023 (H1 2022)

What affects the price of car insurance cover?

Several things affect the cost of cover and every insurer will have its own pricing formula and rules.

Here’s the main factors

  • Your age If you’re a young driver under 25, you’ll pay a lot more for cover. The younger and more inexperienced you are, the greater the risk of a crash so insurers will charge higher rates. Here’s how to get cheaper young driver car insurance.
  • Your location Where you live is one of the main factors affecting insurance costs. Urban areas are seen as higher risk than rural areas and if you live in a high crime area you’ll pay more. Insurers will also assess an area for traffic accidents and claim rates.
  • Your job If you have a job that’s considered high risk to insurers based on claim statistics then you’ll pay more. Lying about your job or class of use could invalidate your insurance, so check that your job title is correct.
  • Your mileage If it’s above average (around 10,500 miles) you’ll probably pay more because the risk of an accident, breakdown or repair is greater. You’ll be asked about the class of use, so be accurate or your claim could be refused.
  • Your driving experience The more years you have the better, and if you’ve got a no claims bonus (NCB), you’ll save even more. If you’re just starting out as a learner driver, here’s what you need to sort out.
  • Your car The make of your car and its size, safety and performance will dictate the insurance group of your car and impact the premium price. Economy cars with small engines are cheaper to insure than larger, more powerful cars. You’ll pay extra for any modifications to your car too.
  • Your excess This is the amount you volunteer to pay against a claim - so the higher the excess, the more you could save on monthly premiums. It can make claiming expensive though.

How to get cheaper cover

Look for discounts

Buy online, pick multi-car insurance or get a black box fitted to get a discount. Build your no claims bonus and reduce your premium with a no claims discount.

Downsize your car

Small, safe, newer cars in a low insurance group are the cheapest to insure. Powerful, high-performance cars with big engines are the most expensive.

Reduce your risk profile

You can’t change your age or location, but you can prove you’re a safe driver by taking an advanced driving course or having a black box installed.

Increase your excess

Opt to pay a higher excess and your monthly premium will be cheaper, but be ready to pay more towards your claim if you have an accident.

What is a no claims bonus?

It’s a discount on your car insurance that’s earned by remaining claim-free.

The level of discount depends on the number of consecutive years you go without making a claim on your insurance. The more years without claiming, the bigger your discount will be, although this may cap between 5 and ten years.

If you do make a claim, you may lose some or all of your no claims bonus, unless you’ve paid to protect it.

What is a policy excess?

It’s the part of a claim that is paid by you, not the insurance company.

Car insurers usually require you to pay a compulsory excess which is the amount set by the insurer. You can also offer to pay a voluntary excess, which means you’ll pay more towards your claim in the event of an accident but pay a reduced premium.

car insurance documents

Buying car insurance

You can save time and money by shopping around for quotes online.

There are often discounts online and you’ll be able to find a quote for most vehicles including classic cars, vans and motorbikes.

All major insurance providers in Ireland provide their own quotes and brokers will offer competitive quotes from a panel of insurers.

You’ll just need to provide a few details about yourself and the vehicle you drive, such as:

  • Your name, age and address
  • The make, model and year of your car
  • How you use your car and your annual mileage
  • Your claims and driving experience

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Should you switch or renew your car insurance?

Many insurers do not reward loyalty and often hike the price of your cover on renewal.

With car insurance prices on the up, it’s worth shopping around to ensure you pay the cheapest price.

The average policy cost €578 in 2022 according to Central Bank’s Private Motor Insurance Mid-year Report, 2023 but premiums have been on the rise since.

Make sure you’re not paying more than you need by comparing a selection of quotes when your policy is up for renewal to see if you can better the price of your existing insurer.

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