SAMMY Wilson, MP, has urged insurance firms to contest personal injury claims more rigorously and help to reduce motorists’ premiums.
Speaking after a Westminster debate on vehicle cover costs, the DUP representative also demanded sterner penalties for driving without insurance.
Mr Wilson said he had made the Commons aware of East Antrim constituents’ concerns about spiralling insurance costs.
“I said that in order for us to see lower premiums a number of steps must be taken,” the MP explained. “First of all, insurance companies need to be more robust when dealing with personal injury claims.
“Often, if a claim is below a certain amount, companies will roll over and pay out. Instead, they need to be fighting more of these claims and taking them to court, forcing people to prove their case. Many people have friends and family members who have made claims and the ease at which these have been accepted has led them to claim as well and they are eagerly encouraged to do this by their legal advisors and solicitors.”
Mr Wilson added: “We also need to be much tougher on those people who drive without insurance. It is estimated that uninsured drivers add £30 to the cost of each insurance premium. The current fixed penalty for failing to drive without insurance is only £200 and the maximum fine is £5,000. These need to be raised so that it can never be worth it for anybody to drive without insurance. An idea worth consideration is for proof of insurance to be demonstrated before a car can leave the premises which it is bought at.
“We also have problems specific to Northern Ireland. Here we face higher premiums than elsewhere in the UK and part of this is due to lack of competition.
“During the debate I said that it needs to be addressed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Office of Fair Trading. They must find out whether collusion between the insurance companies has increased the price of insurance in Northern Ireland.
“I also raised the point that we should not be seeking to penalise younger drivers. Ideas such as curfews and graduated driving licenses were mentioned during the debate, but it is wrong and unfair to impose such restrictions on younger drivers.”
Mr Wilson said: “Lower premiums are achievable, however they will not come about by doing nothing: action needs to be taken.”