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1Correct as of July 2024

Car insurance for Northern Ireland

You don't need a specific car insurance policy to drive in Northern Ireland, you can arrange it in the same way as if you lived in other parts of the UK.

If you're thinking about driving to the Republic of Ireland however, you'll need to be aware of a few things. Read on to find out what you'll need.

Does UK car insurance cover you in Northern Ireland?

Your UK car insurance policy should cover you to drive in Northern Ireland, but it's important to check the details of your policy first.

As Northern Ireland is a part of the UK, you should get the same level of cover that you'd get if you were driving in Wales, Scotland or England.

Am I covered for ferry crossings to Northern Ireland?

Not all car insurance providers cover ferry crossings as standard on their policies. It's best to check the T&Cs of the policy to see whether it covers ferry crossings and what you can claim for.

Popular ferry crossings to NI from mainland UK include:

  • Cairnyan - Belfast and Larne
  • Douglas - Belfast
  • Liverpool Birkenhead - Belfast

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**Single annual policy. New and former Paramount+ subscribers only who sign up at ParamountPlus.com. Subscription required. Auto-renews unless cancelled. 18+. Just Eat website account required, geographical exclusions apply. The year-round reward is provided by Greggs, and consists of one regular hot drink per month for a year, only available via the Confused.com app. T&Cs apply.

Driving in the Republic of Ireland

Most insurers will include annual cover in the Republic of Ireland (ROI). This is usually included as standard on your policy, so you might not need European cover if you drive across the border.

It's worth checking with your insurer whether the level of cover offered matches your policy in Northern Ireland, as some policies might be the legal minimum required for the country only. This means if you have a comprehensive policy you might only get third-party or third-party fire and theft cover when you visit the ROI or drive abroad elsewhere. 

Some providers limit cover to 30 consecutive days, others for up to 90 as standard inline with other European countries. If you plan on staying longer than the maximum number of days your insurer allows, you'll need to look at other options such as a temporary European car insurance policy or asking your insurers if they'll extend your cover for a fee.

But some might even extend your cover in the Republic of Ireland for the whole length of your policy. The length of cover will vary between insurance providers so it's best to check with your chosen provider for clarification.

You don't need to carry a car insurance green card to drive in the Republic of Ireland as it's part of the EU. But you may need to carry an international driving permit, depending on how long you're staying in the country. 

How much does it cost?

Our latest car insurance price index shows the average comprehensive policy price for drivers in Northern Ireland is £968*. That's only £27 higher than the UK average despite Northern Ireland being the second most expensive region outside of London for car insurance.

As with all regions of the UK, Northern Ireland car insurance prices have increased over the last 12 months. Drivers are on average paying £264 more than they were in 2023. That's a huge 38% increase over the last 12 months*.

*Confused.com price index data Q1 2024.

Compare cheap car insurance for Northern Ireland

Why is it so expensive?

Car insurance in NI is typically higher than other regions in the UK. This is because there are fewer insurers in the market compared to mainland UK. This brings competition down – resulting in higher car insurance costs for drivers.

How can I cut the costs?

You could cut the cost by:

  • Avoiding auto renewal
  • Timing it right
  • Adding an experienced driver
  • Considering black box insurance
  • Increasing your voluntary excess
  • Improving security
  • Building your no-claims bonus (NCB)
  • Avoiding auto renewal and shop around to compare and find the best price.
  • Timing it right. Leaving it too late means you could pay more than you need to. Our data shows you usually see the cheapest prices around 18 days1 before you need the policy to start.
  • Adding an experienced driver to help bring costs down. Adding a driver to your policy could save you up to 20%1. Adding a driver means you share the time spent driving, which could see your costs come down. But remember, the person who drives the car the most should always be named as the main driver on the policy. Otherwise you're 'fronting', which is a form of fraud that could invalidate your policy.
  • Considering black box insurance is an option for younger or less experienced drivers. Insurers monitor your driving using an app or a small device fitted to your car and offer prices based on your driving habits. If you drive safely, without harsh braking or excessive acceleration, you should be able to cut the cost.
  • Increasing your voluntary excess. Agreeing to a higher car insurance excess is any easy way to reduce your costs. This is the amount that you contribute to the cost of any claim you make, so it's important to make sure you can afford it.
  • Improving security on your car by fitting an alarm or immobiliser. This can lower your risk by making your call less of a target for thieves.
  • Building your no-claims bonus (NCB). Each year you stay claim-free you gain a year of NCB which can help to lower your prices by increasing the discount insurers offer you. You could save up to 347%1 after building your first year of NCB.
1Confused.com data Q1 2024.

What types of cover are available?

There are 3 main options to choose from:

  • Third-party is the minimum legal level of cover you'll need to drive in Northern Ireland and is the lowest level of cover available. It covers you if you injure someone or damage someone else's property while driving. It also covers your passengers too.
  • Third-party fire & theft covers everything included with third-party. It also covers your costs for repair or replacing if your car is damaged by fire or stolen.
  • Comprehensive car insurance or fully comprehensive gives you the highest level of protection. It covers you, your car and other people and their property.

You can also add a selection of add-ons to your policy to increase your cover. Common ones include windscreen cover, breakdown cover and legal protection. Including add-ons on your policy can increase your costs but if you choose to go for comprehensive cover, most insurers do include one or two add-ons as standard.

So if you are keen on having add-ons, it's worth comparing levels of cover to find the best deal for what you need.

The table below shows the average prices you could expect to pay for your car insurance policy. As you can see, the highest level of cover isn't necessarily the most expensive so that could be something to consider when you're shopping around.

Fully comprehensive* Third Party Fire and Theft1 Third Party Only1

*Confused.com price index data Q1 2024. 
1Confused.com data Q1 2024.

What do I need to get a quote?

You can compare quotes in a few minutes. Having this information ready should help speed things up more.

Personal details:

  • Your occupation
  • Any claims or accidents from the last 5 years
  • Details for anyone you want as a named driver
  • Your driving licence type and number
  • How much no-claims-bonus you have
  • Any motoring convictions from the last 5 years

Car details:

  • The registration or make and model of your car
  • Any additional modifications, excluding tow hitches
  • Your estimated annual mileage
  • How you plan to use the car

What our car insurance expert says

"With the cost of Northern Ireland car insurance going up by 50% since last year, it's more important than ever to compare car insurance quotes.

"If you're planning on driving to the Republic of Ireland, make sure to check your policy. You might only have a set number of days you're allowed to drive abroad for. If you're still unsure, you can always contact your insurer."

Louise Thomas, Motor Insurance Expert at Confused.com
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  • In 2002, we launched as the first price comparison site for car insurance. Now, we help over 5 million customers a year with their policies so we know what we're talking about when it comes to car insurance.
  • We're 100% independent and we're not owned by an insurance company. This means you'll see the best prices available to you based on your information, and not for any other reason.
  • If you need any help with your insurance, our Cardiff-based team is here to support you. Take a look at our contact page to find ways to get in touch.
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Page last reviewed: 23 January 2024

Reviewed by: Louise Thomas