It's been a while...

Hi everyone!

I know it's been a while since I've written or posted anything of substance. I wish I could say I've been working constantly behind the scenes to try to get your insurance premiums down, but the truth is I've just been too busy to keep up the amount of lobbying and media interviews that I had been doing.

At this point I think I've done all I can do as an individual short of running for election (don't expect to see that happening any time soon!). What I have been doing though, is keeping an eye on how things are progressing. It's been jut over 12 months since I sat in front of the Dáil committee giving them my two cents and, it seems, things are moving in the right direction. I've been stopped on the street a number of times now by people who tell me their premiums have come down since I started banging on about it. The CSO figures on premium prices are also encouraging, showing them going in the right direction.

I know from the many Facebook comments that not all of you have felt the strain easing yet, but you will soon I promise. In the meantime, you can help. There's only so much lobbying of politicians I can do on my own. So I'm reaching out to all of you to ask you to send emails either to your local TD or the minister of state Michael D'Arcy. You may not think it, but every email that lands in the inbox of our politicians grabs their attention at some stage, and the more they see coming in about motor insurance, the more seriously they take it. If we can keep the pressure up, especially in the run up to the budget, then we can make sure it is seen as a priority. Below I have pasted an email I recently wrote to Deputy D'Arcy, feel free to copy it for your own purposes.


Minister D'Arcy,
I hope this email finds you well.
Last year, I sat in front of an oireachtes committee which was looking into the price rise in motor insurance. I corresponded with your predecessor a number of times on the matter also. I am writing to you today on behalf of those whom I represent, young drivers.
As you may be aware, I have been campaigning for a while now to try keep the spotlight on the issue of high insurance costs. I have met with various stakeholders, from the CEO of insurance Ireland to various industry lobbyists, journalists and politicians. What I can gather from the contrasting pieces of information is that the industry is, to put it mildly, a mess. I wonder, minister, if the effort it would take to try get the market back on track would be worth it?
My own personal opinion is this, and you can take it or leave it as you please. Motor insurance is a legal requirement as set by the government but it is run by private businesses. I believe this is a conflict of interest, so to speak. I believe this is a recipe for disaster, I believe it needs to be overhauled completely. The Government is there to represent and protect the people of Ireland. Private industry is there to exploit them, for want of a better word. (I should point out at this stage that I have no problem with private industry and I don't make the following suggestion to spite them).
I would propose that our Republic changes the system of insurance to a model such as they operate in New Zealand, a "no fault universal insurance". The details are more complicated I'm sure, but the general idea is that third party liability is covered through general taxation. This removes the legal requirement for people to purchase insurance. They can, f course, still go to private companies for more extensive cover should they wish. Now, I'm no fool, I'm sure this system has it's drawbacks. Does it, for example, take responsibility for poor driving away from those behind the wheel? Would people be more careless on the road knowing they don't have to worry about increased premiums if they have an accident?
These are questions which need to be asked and answered. Unfortunately I don't have the time or resources to research this myself, but I believe this radical change is something worth looking into. I hope it is something you may devote some time to, for the benefit of all drivers here.
If I can ever be of assistance, feel free to reach out.
Kindest Regards,
Kian Griffin
Ireland Underground

Has the Time Arrived for Universal No Fault Personal Injuries Insurance?

By James O'Mahony 

Judge Seamus Hughes of Longford District Court recently said that he will no longer send young people to jail for driving without insurance.  He said the “huge increase” in uninsured young drivers had become a national problem, blaming the rising cost of insurance premiums on “excessive claims” being awarded.  The Judge said that new premiums were so excessive, that they were preventing young people from getting to work.  He suggested that Ireland adopt the English approach.

Well, let’s adopt the New Zealand approach instead.  

In New Zealand, everybody pays a portion of their income into a universal no fault personal injuries fund to cover them for personal injuries.  This eliminates the need for public liability, employee liability and medical negligence insurance.  It renders car insurance optional where third party property damage insurance is included in the price of fuel.  In fact, car insurance is only purchased where someone has borrowed money to buy a car.  

It could even be argued that universal no fault personal injuries insurance saves the environment because the average age of cars on New Zealand’s roads is 14 years old. It could be argued that this is because newer vehicles would require the purchase of car insurance to protect one's investment.  While older vehicles produce more greenhouse gasses, the production of new vehicles also generates a significant amount of greenhouse gas.  So older vehicles may actually be better for the environment than brand new electric vehicles.

The fact that Kiwis don’t import new vehicles like the Irish do, may also have a positive effect on the economy in that money that would be spent on importing new vehicles in Ireland, and generating employment abroad, is spent elsewhere in the New Zealand economy and generating employment in New Zealand rather than abroad.  Older vehicles need more maintenance than newer vehicles so even more jobs are generated.  This is comes under the heading of the “Circular Economy” which  is a concept whereby resource input, waste emission and energy leakage are minimised by slowing, closing, and narrowing material and energy loops. This can be achieved through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling.

Because our environment is in such a precarious state, the circular economy will be huge, and generate thousands of jobs in the coming decades.  Sweden, with this in mind, have introduced a tax credit to fund the repair of household appliances instead of throwing them away.  They have also designed the Gripen E and F fighter jets around the idea of the circular economy.  Finland is also to devise a circular economy strategy but I doubt if an Irish politician has ever heard of the concept.  

Of course, Insurance companies in Ireland are dead against the idea of circular economics because they prefer to insure vehicles that are no more than seven years old.  One company will not insure vehicles over nine years old.  Others won’t accept vehicles over ten years old while most companies will be reluctant to take on vehicles over 14 and 15 years old.  In the not too distant future, the Irish government may be obliged by the EU to adopt circular economic policies, not only because of what has been outlined above, but also increased automation and robotics will take more and more jobs.  

How should universal no fault personal injuries insurance work in Ireland?

First of all, there will have to be a root and branch reform of the tax system so that it is much flatter and broader than the existing tax system, to ensure that as many people as possible contribute to the no fault personal injuries fund.  It must also be accompanied by a universal health insurance system. The charges for these two funds must take the form of a two percent universal no fault personal injuries levy and a 12% public health insurance levy and they must be paid into funds that cannot be touched by politicians.   If a person wants, he should be entitled to opt out of these levies by buying approved private products.  This is necessary because sole traders and the members of a partnership, if they make a lot of money, may end up paying an inordinate amount of money for health and personal injuries insurance.  Even though only one percent of us will end up in a nursing home, a two percent nursing care tax should be payable by everyone to fund home help and nursing home care in the event of incapacity.

While health insurance should be used to pay for the delivery of normal everyday healthcare in addition to treatment for personal injuries, the personal injuries insurance, rather than a lump sum, should be used to fund an income of 85% of the claimant’s work income for the duration of the incapacity.  It should also be used to fund home reconfigurations, vehicle reconfigurations etc., in the event that a person becomes wheelchair bound. Where a person is not working, 85% of the typical (as opposed to the average) full working week income should be payable.  Claims for whiplash should be disallowed unless it is obvious from the state of the vehicle that it was travelling at speed. When the claimant dies, and assuming that his responsibilities have “died” too, i.e., children have left school/college and spouse has died or remarried, then the payments should cease.  

Unlike the existing system, where an assailant may not always have the funds to pay compensation, claims for injuries sustained from an assault would also be allowed, and police officers who are currently not covered for injuries caused by a person suffering from a mental illness will be covered under this system.

To make a claim, report the incident to the police, who will approve your claim once they are satisfied that it is a genuine claim.  Then, it will just be a matter of sending it on to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, which is already in existence.  A claimant if he wants to, is entitled to challenge the award handed down by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board in the High Court.

Foreigners travelling to Ireland should be warned to have their own personal injuries insurance as the system should only cover people who are resident in Ireland and who are injured in Ireland.

But how should we fund third party property damage?

Instead of fixed penalty fines for driving offences, which can often be small change to wealthier members of society, how about charging a week’s, a couple of week’s, a month’s or even several month’s income for an offence, and use this revenue to partly fund third party property damage. Taxes on fuels could also be repurposed so as to contribute to this fund, but to release funds so as to do that, direct water metering/charging will have to be reintroduced.  This could also facilitate the abolition of VRT.

To make life easier for young drivers who usually don’t own any property and are on low wages, it would be an excellent idea if road tax, local property tax and commercial rates, were replaced with a land value property tax payable by the owner rather than the occupier of the property. In the absence of a need to police car insurance and road tax, the judiciary will have additional resources to police other types of driving offence and indeed other non driving offences.

In the final analysis…

Universal no fault personal injuries insurance has the potential to transform the Irish economy beyond recognition because the need for corporations to buy public liability and employee liability insurance will be gone.  This will enhance competitiveness.  Sole traders and members of partnerships will only have to insure themselves and their property rather than the public and their employees, and when combined with the abolition of road tax and VRT, will contribute hugely to the growth of their business and generate employment.  Most jobs are in small businesses, and most small businesses start out as sole traders and partnerships, so there will be a boom in this area.  People will choose to keep their vehicles for longer rather than take out a car insurance policy to cover a new vehicle.  This will generate additional employment in the circular economy and hold more money in the economy for longer, because money that would have been spent on importing new vehicles will be spent elsewhere in the economy instead.  

Separately from that, it will have a small additional positive impact on productivity as people who may not have been in a position to commute or rent away from home because of the cost, will be able to get on the road and work.  So there will be a reduced demand on social programmes too and enhanced revenues in other areas.

Where the mostly foreign owned insurance firms operating in Ireland will invest much of their revenues abroad, there will be no profit motive in a universal no fault personal injuries insurance setting.  Revenues raised from the universal no fault personal injuries levy could, along with state pension contributions be placed in a constitutionally protected sovereign fund and invested in Ireland so as to generate additional wealth and employment.  Like any other sovereign fund, it can be drawn down as needed to make payments under the personal injuries insurance and pension schemes.  

Health budgets will go further in the absence of a need to buy medical negligence insurance as well as public liability and employee liability insurance. Government revenues in general, will go much further in the absence of a need to buy public and employee liability insurance.  

It may even make a dent in homelessness as those who, in the current insurance environment have to rent close to work or college will find commuting cheaper than maintaining a weekday address and a weekend address. This will be enhanced by the abolition of road tax.  

Universal no fault personal injuries insurance is in operation quite successfully in various forms in  many jurisdictions around the globe including New Zealand, Australia, parts of Canada, Brazil and even parts of Europe and in the absence of lawyers, is much cheaper than the existing Irish system.

Universal no fault personal injuries insurance truely is a “no brainer”!

Statement on Goverment measures to tackle Motor Insurance prices

It's been some time since there has been any meaningful update from the Government in relation to the tackling of motor insurance premiums. I had hoped for swift action from Leinster house on this matter, but sadly that is not the case. Each day this debacle is allowed to continue means hundreds more people unfairly out of pocket. It is past crisis point at this stage.

Today I have written to Minister Noonan to request a meeting to discuss this. I am hoping he will be willing to talk with me so that we might at least get an idea of a timescale for the Governments measures.

Should I not get an answer, or should we not see signs of progress, then I believe it is time to look at arranging another demonstration (hopefully with a better turnout this time).

Keep an eye on our social media accounts for updates.

All this month our readers can get 10% off at Use our exclusive discount code "iuapr2017discount" at the checkout.

Let's Talk About Slow Drivers

This has to be the single most frustrating aspect of driving, not just in Ireland, but anywhere. You're tipping along nicely at 100km/h, round the next bend and get stuck behind someone doing 50km/h with no opportunity to pass. It's not too bad if this person has the consideration to pull in and let you (and the 50 or so cars building up behind you) pass, or if you can overtake. But 99% of the time, they are going to trundle along with no consideration for the increasingly frustrated drivers behind them.

Now, most people will say be patient and don't rush. But is that really possible when you're trying to get to work in the morning, or get to the airport or how may other appointments. It's already being acknowledged by authorities in North Carolina that slow drivers are a danger to other road users. People don't think straight when frustrated or upset, they will make rash decisions which could end up causing accidents. It's far too simplistic to say people should stay patient and sit in traffic behind them and I can't understand why it's not something that has never been seriously addressed by a transport minister.

If you possess a full driving licence, there is no reason you can't drive at (or just below) the posted speed limit. Fair enough if you're a learner (or rental cars I suppose), but other then that...MOVE YOUR ASS!

All this month our readers can get 10% off at Use our exclusive discount code "iuapr2017discount" at the checkout.

Also read : Let's talk about Boy Racers

5 Reasons Young Drivers Deserve Higher Premiums

As written by an insurance company

1. They don't even drive new cars

If these young chaps weren't so crude as to drive outdated cars then of course we would offer lower premiums. We must punish them for being so inconsiderate as to think that an NCT validates a cars worthiness for insurance (perish the thought!). I mean seriously, why don't they just buy a 2016 model? 

2. Everyone else is taking money off them, why shouldn't we?

It's only fair. If landlords are allowed to take so much off them for rent. They can obviously afford it. We need to get our fair share too!

3. I need a third holiday this year

Seriously though, you don't understand the stress I'm under. I only made 250k last year, I need that extra trip to the Maldives. You can hardly expect me to pay it myself?

4. What are they gonna do about it anyway?

It's not as if the Government considers youth a top priority! "Make hay while the sun shines" and all that. It's not my problem if employment prospects are so dire that they're stuck in low-income jobs. That's their own fault.

5. Hahahahahahaha....hahahaha

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha (laughs in €'s) ahhahahahaha.

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I'm A Criminal

So St. Patricks day was this weekend, and like most of the country I went out on Friday night to celebrate. I did the responsible thing, drove to town, had my few pints (literally a few, just one of those nights where I couldn't be bothered drinking much) and got a taxi the half mile out of town to my house. It was roughly 2.30/3.00 when I got in and I'd set my alarm for 10.30. Best of both worlds, got to go out with my friends and still get plenty sleep before facing the next day.

On Saturday I had to be in Tralee by midday. Given that there's little-to-no reliable public transport from Killorglin to Tralee (there is a bus service, but trust me it's far from reliable and I'd have to walk another mile in Tralee to get where I needed to go), the only option I had was to walk into town, collect my car and drive. It had been roughly 10 hours since my last drink. I'd had that little that I hadn't even a hint of a hangover. But, under Minister Ross' proposed legislation changes, I'd be considered a criminal.
Not only would I be a criminal, I could potentially have my car taken from me. Given the aforementioned absence of reliable public transport, I'd also lose my job as there's no way I'd make it to my shift on time every day and arranging a lift just isn't an option.

This is why people in rural areas have a problem with this proposed changes in the law. It's not that we condone drink-driving, it's not that we want special permits permitting us to do so. It's down to the fact that, if you want to have any sort of a life in rural Ireland, joining your friends for a drink is unavoidable. We have no alternative in terms of socialising, the pub is all we have. We have no alternative in terms of transport, the car is king. You can be as responsible as you like (I think I was very much so on Paddy's day?) but zero tolerance will kill rural Ireland if proper transport links aren't first put in place.

Minister Ross seems to be taking the easy route. He seems to be doing all he can to make himself look good without actually doing any work. We don't need more legislation (God knows there's hardly enough Gardai to enforce it anyway), we need more practical solutions. Sort out some decent connectivity between rural towns first, at a reasonable price (believe me the prices for Bus Eireann are what's killing it as much as the shite service). Whether it's affordable buses, or reopening the southern railways. Sure the initial investment would be huge, but the government is there to serve the people of Ireland, all Ireland, not just Dublin.

Consider the consequences of poorly researched legislation Minister. Give us an alternative to using our cars and then, one hundred percent, a zero tolerance policy is the correct thing.

Let's Talk About "Boy Racers"

There's a certain stereotype attached to people who own and drive cars with any form of modifications on them. The general consensus is that owners of these cars are reckless and dangerous. I have seen comments on various online forums decrying "boy racers" as scum and a danger to the general public. While I accept that younger drivers are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident, I vehemently oppose the idea that owners of modified cars are in any way more dangerous on the road just because their car is modified.

A dangerous driver will be just as dangerous in a Honda Civic as they would be in a Volvo. In fact, I would be of the opinion that, if someone has put time, money and effort into personalizing their vehicle, they would be more likely to take car of it as much as they can. I meet dangerous/idiotic/inconsiderate drivers on a daily basis. Very few actually drive modified cars. The majority are driving newer executive class cars which speed past at every given opportunity (even if I'm already at the speed limit) or little old hatchbacks which insist on going everywhere at 20km/h holding up a line of 50 cars behind them.

I have, on many occasions, been treated like absolute shite just because of the car I'm driving. Especially around May bank holiday weekend (Rally of the Lakes time, or "Boy Racer" witch-hunt season to many). I've been shouted at, threatened and had stuff thrown at my car even while parked, giving no indication whatsoever that I could be poor driver or a "menace to society". The only hint being my lowered suspension, tinted windows or, a few years back, my rear spoiler...(yes I had a ricer car and I make no apologies for it! 😎 )

Car modification is a passion and a culture that is just getting stronger in Ireland. It is harmless, fun and creative. It's something that should be encouraged, not frowned upon. Planning a build and seeing it come to fruition is one of the most rewarding past-times a person can have. Besides, if we're spending money on our cars, we can't afford drink and drugs!

Punish us for how we drive, not what we drive.