MOTORISTS in Northern Ireland continue to face the highest insurance and fuel costs anywhere in the UK, according to a major consumer watchdog.
The Consumer Council reports that motorists here pay an average of £282 more for car insurance compared to those in other regions, while a tank of petrol or diesel costs over £9 more than this time last year.
Ryan Simpson, of the Consumer Council, said the province has had the highest fuel prices anywhere in the UK every month to date during 2011.
“Consumer Council figures show that it costs £68.21 to a fill a car with petrol and £69.76 to fill up with diesel.
“Compared to this time last year, it is now £9.08 more expensive to fill your car with petrol and £9.60 for diesel,” he said.
Calling on the assembly to support calls for a Europe-wide investigation into the price of fuel, Mr Simpson said: “Consumers need to know that the price they pay for fuel is fair. The Consumer Council is also asking the NI Assembly to investigate why consumers here pay more for car insurance than consumers elsewhere in the UK.”
The spokesman said the Consumer Council would continue to monitor fuel prices on a weekly basis and added: “We encourage consumers to check out our online survey at www.consumercouncil.org.uk to see the cheapest, dearest and average price of fuel in their area”.
A guide containing information about getting the best deal can be downloaded for free at www.consumercouncil.org.uk or by calling 0800 121 6022.
Meanwhile, new legislation has been introduced making it an offence to be the keeper of an uninsured vehicle, rather than just to drive it when uninsured.
From today, registered keepers identified as having an uninsured vehicle will be sent a letter telling them that their vehicle appears to be uninsured, and warning them of the consequences if they fail to take action.
Under the new Continuous Insurance Enforcement law, those who do not act on this warning – either by taking out insurance or declaring their vehicle off the road – will receive a £100 fine and could have their vehicle clamped, seized or destroyed. They may also face a court prosecution.
The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), which last month launched a national advertising campaign to raise awareness of the new law, has seen a 20 per cent rise in the number of successful searches by motorists who have checked their insurance details are recorded on the motor insurance database.
All drivers can check their vehicle is recorded correctly for free at www.askMID.com.
Road safety minister Mike Penning said: “Anyone who receives a warning letter should take action immediately by getting insurance or contacting the DVLA to declare their vehicle off the road.”