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Speed is one of the main factors in fatal road incidents in the UK at present. With 1,732 road deaths in 2015, UK government has aimed to increase safety on the roads by introducing new rules and regulations which will encourage motorists to think twice before abusing the speed limit.

In accordance with these statistics, UK government enforced stricter speeding penalties on the 24th of April this year.

Say goodbye to fixed fines, fines will now range from 50-150% of the offender’s weekly income (using bands A, B and C). Band A offenders can expect to be fined 50% of their weekly income, 100% to be fined from those within Band B and 150% fined in Band C.

Table is taken from gov.uk website
Speeding fines 2017 in the uk

There has been word of implications to the fine that will aggravate the amount such as a reduction if caught speeding due to an emergency or increased in the case of a repeat offender. Other aggravating factors include:

  • Driving LGV, HGV, PSV etc
  • Carrying passengers or heavy load
  • Location (I.E near a school)
  • Poor weather conditions

Factors reducing include:

  • No previous convictions
  • Good character and/or exemplary conduct
  • Case of genuine emergency
  • Zero tolerance for repeat offenders, who will receive 3 or more points on their licence.

The new limit to these new sentencing fines: £2500 for those caught on the motorway and £1000 everywhere else.





Car Insurance on the rise due to Ogden Report

What has happened?

The Ministry of Justice has announced that it will cut the Ogden discount rate, a calculation used to determine lump sum compensation to claimants who have suffered life-changing injuries, from 2.5 per cent to minus 0.75 per cent. The news came as a shock to the Insurance industry, which had widely expected the rate to fall between 1.5pc and 1pc and the entire industry is highlighting that this will have a huge impact on premiums. This change took effect from 20th March 2017, marking the first time the rate has been changed since 2001. The move will cost the insurance industry millions of pounds and the car insurance premiums of 36 million drivers are set to rise in order to fund higher pay-outs to victims of serious accidents.

What is the Ogden rate?

When deciding on the level of compensation pay-outs, Insurers have been allowed to apply a discount rate to overall settlement awards to allow for the amount of interest that could be accrued on pay-outs. This discount is set by the Courts and is known as the Ogden rate. It has been set at a level of 2.5% since 2001.

Why has it changed?

The Government now says that this discount level is inappropriate, as interest rates have decreased considerably since 2001 and they do not believe that pay-outs are adequate. They are adjusting the discount rate to allow for higher compensation awards. 

What will it mean for drivers?

Car insurance premiums will rise substantially in order to fund higher pay-outs to victims of serious accidents, as insurers have to set aside substantially more funding to pay for these larger compensation awards. This change will apply to outstanding claims, as well as claims going forward. Early indications suggest that an average car insurance policy is likely to cost £50 to £75 more each year, whilst young drivers could face up to £1,000 in extra costs.

This table1 shows just how big an impact the change could make on claims payments:

    @ 2.5% Ogden rate @ -0.75% Ogden rate  
Age Gender Claim size Claim size Claim size
20 M £5,000,000 £9,904,348 +98%
47 M £8,500,000 £14,999,454 +76%
27 F £6,500,000 £13,949,421  +115%
30 F £12,000,000 £22,997,255  +92%
10 M £10,000,000 £26,512,997  +165%
70 M £1,100,000 £1,388,607  +26%


1 Ageas broker notification.

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Winter motor maintenance
IAM RoadSmart, IAM Surety, IAM insurance, ROAD SAFETY for children

This blog was produced with IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is the official insurance provider for the IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is a trading brand of Cornmarket Insurance.

Ice on the windscreen

Be proactive and leave your house ten minutes earlier than you usually would, and never attempt to drive until your vision is clear as the chance of accidents will significantly increase and you will more than likely be held accountable for any damage. Make sure that your windscreen wipers are switched off before stopping the engine to park to avoid damage. Try popping your wipers up when you park so they aren’t left touching the windscreen if a freeze is in the forecast. This makes it easier to clear ice from the windscreen. Keep a good stock of de-icer in your car and practise good utilisation of air conditioning to speed up the condensation removal inside your car.

Dirt or salt residue will magnify the effect of the sun. According to IAM RoadSmart, in 2015 low lying sun was a factor in over 2,500 crashes (including 17 fatalities). So, remember to top up your windscreen wash and it’s a good idea to keep a scraper in your car. Avoid using your windscreen wipers to remove ice from your windscreen as this could damage the blades.

Starting your engine

GEM motor assist advises that on starting the engine; depress the clutch pedal when starting. This will make sure the starter motor will not need to rotate the gearbox shafts with cold and thick transmission oil. After the engine has started you can release the pedal slowly.

Check your antifreeze

Make sure your antifreeze is effective and in good supply as it stops the water in the engine cooling system from freezing. Antifreeze tester costs around £5. This is a tube/pipette type object that you lower into the coolant (when the engine is cold) to measure the freezing point. Make sure antifreeze strength is between 30% & 50%. The engine will freeze if the concentration is too low, and if too high the effectiveness of the solution to disperse heat is reduced.


Remove the snow from the roof of your car before you begin driving. Snow falling from vehicles fall in the way and obstruct the visibility of yourself and other drivers. There is also an increased chance of being pulled over by police due to obstruction of registration plates, which can potentially lead to a penalty.
IAM RoadSmart also recommends dressing warmly for the winter. Many drivers dress based on their car heater, and do not consider the potential to be stranded in the cold.

‘See and be seen’

Daytime is shorter and weather is worse. Ensure exterior car lights are clear and don’t forget to turn your lights on in the dark mornings and early evenings. Remember to carry extra lights in case you need a replacement.


The AA recommends that motorists have 3mm of tyre tread depth in winter for driving (the legal requirement is 1.6mm). The tread disperses loose water and snow and helps the car from aquaplaning (the deeper the tread depth the better in terms of snow/rainy conditions). Check tyre pressure once a week also. Tyre pressure in winter can also be an important factor to consider. Tyres lose a pound of pressure for every drop of 12 degrees Celsius – and an under-inflated tyre will not grip through the snow as one with pressure.


Don’t risk running late because of a flat battery. Winter can increase stress on battery life particularly if you park outdoors. Check your battery (some car-parts stores do this for free).
GEM motoring assist recommend that if you cover many short journeys then there is a higher risk that your engine will not get the chance to warm up fully during the winter months. Try driving your car for a longer period of time at least once a fortnight (in speeds of 45mph+). Make sure your turn off any accessories that are likely to drain your battery as soon as you are finished with them, such as heated rear windows and seats.



Car insurance, Car insurance for truck drivers, car insurance for teachers, IAM Surety

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Shaun McElhinney

Congratulations to Motorbike Renewals Team Leader Shaun McElhinney for winning the CIS brand ambassador award

Shaun, pictured above with Stephen Neeson from Motorbikes New Business, has been specialising in Motorbike Insurance for 9 years and is currently working towards the completion of his ILM Leadership Level 5 course. Shaun joined Cornmarket Belfast in 2007 and has been selected as brand ambassador for his excellent customer service skills, his leadership skills and his enthusiasm. Shaun always displays a positive attitude to work and an excellent team spirit.

Congratulations to Shaun for actively promoting the 3 elements of the CIS Brand; Service, Integrity and Value.

“I am pleased to receive this award, and I appreciate the recognition Cornmarket Insurance has provided in giving me this award.”

Keep your house warm

Winter is coming…

From August 21st, GB Energy Supply increased gas and electricity prices by 7% and experts are saying that the Big Six suppliers (British Gas, EON, EDF, npower, Scottish Power and SSE), who supply 98% of Britain’s households with their energy, could be increasing bills as early as autumn.
We’ve researched a list of our top tips to save money whilst keeping warm in the home this winter:

Technology in the home

The Nest thermostat shows you just how much energy you use every day and allows you to adjust your home heating and your hot water tank while away from your house, using your phone. Its Auto-Away feature automatically turns itself down when nobody’s at home.

Thermal Curtains

According to GRENUM, there are two key requirements to preventing heat loss/gain through a window covering: the material needs to be an insulator, and there must be no gaps around the edges as this will result in the air between the window and curtain escaping and setting up a convection current. An insulated curtain is usually comprised of three layers: face fabric, liner (bumph) and rubber-backed curtain lining.


A good money-saving tip to prevent unnecessary heat loss from radiators, according to Sophie Neuburg, energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth, is tinfoil. Aluminium foil behind the radiator can reflect heat back into the room, rather than losing it through the wall.

Double Glazed Windows

Double-glazed windows can prove incredibly energy-efficient. Alongside lower carbon footprint and lower energy bills, double-glazed windows also reduce condensation and act as great insulation against external noises.
Double-glazed windows consist of two sheets of glass with a small gap in between which is used to create an insulating barrier, keeping heat in.

Honeycomb Blinds

Alongside offering privacy and light control, honeycomb blinds offer insulation from the cold winter winds. These types of shades have large channels which trap the air at the window. The R-value of a double-glazed window (the measurement of resistance of the shade to heat transfer) can double by just adding these cellular shades to a window.

Cover bare floorboards

Varnished wooden floors look great in a well decorated room, but according to the National Energy Foundation (NEF) can result in as much as 10% heat loss if they’re not insulated. Blankets and rugs can be used to cover floors and keep feet warm as an added bonus.

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man looking at phone while driving

The mobile phone game Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are warning against the dangers of using your phone while driving. The augmented-reality game challenges users to catch Pokémon on an abstract map on their smartphones. This has led to people running through parks, shopping malls, car parks and everywhere in-between.

The franchise was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995 and is centred on fictional creatures called “Pokémon”, which humans, known as Pokémon Trainers, catch and train to battle each other for sport. The internet and the virtual world can be a great place to learn and explore and although games such as this can be fun, it is also important to be aware of the risks involved.

The list of most dangerous driving distractions currently includes talking on the phone, using social media, driving whilst drowsy and eating or drinking. No doubt Pokémon Go will be added to the list before long.

According to IAM Roadsmart, 8% of drivers admitted to driving while using a video calling application and the IAM welcomed the banning of mobile phones as smartphone use whilst driving reduces reaction times by up the 35%.

“Using a phone causes physical, visual, mental and auditory distractions, leading to significantly slower reaction times. Recent IAM research has found it can be more distracting than driving with alcohol or cannabis in your system.”

The game launched only a matter of weeks ago and already a number of road accidents have made media headlines. Just last week the body camera of a Police officer filmed the moment a Pokemon Go player crashed into a patrol car.

It is illegal to drive a vehicle or ride a motorbike while using a hand-held mobile phone or a similar device. Hands-free phones can also be a distraction and you’ll risk prosecution for not having proper control of your vehicle when using one.

Inspector Rosemary Leech, from the PSNI warned that,

“The offence of using your mobile phone to perform an ‘interactive communication function’ whilst driving will leave the driver liable to a £60 fine and 3 penalty points. PSNI will be actively seeking out Pokémon participants, so don’t be caught out by going hunting whilst behind the wheel of your car.”

How you could be breaking the law:

If, while driving, you pick up or use any type of phone that must be held you will be breaking the law.
This means you should not use your mobile phone:
• when you are stopped at traffic lights
• when you are queuing in traffic
• to make or receive calls
• to send or receive picture and text messages
• to access the internet


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Brand ambassador Cornmarket July, Rory Griffin

A lot has been going on in Cornmarket UK this month to be celebrated, not least Rory Griffin, being crowned as the CIS Brand Ambassador!

Rory, an Insurance Advisor specialising in Home Insurance, has been working with CIS UK for almost 4 years. He was selected as the Brand Ambassador for being a great representative for the Cornmarket brand, and for embodying the Company ethos of integrity, value, and service. These values are at the core of our business and strengthen the unique customer focus that we uphold as a team.

His colleagues commended Rory for his helpfulness, positive attitude and professionalism, and for demonstrating a good team spirit throughout the month. It’s not just his colleagues who endorsed him; Rory’s excellent service level was also praised directly by customers in the month of July with one of our IAM Surety clients recommending him as an ‘asset’ to the business.

Congratulations to Rory for actively promoting the 3 elements of the CIS Brand;


Rory demonstrated commitment to quality and advice, acted as a role model and demonstrated professionalism.


He was nominated for his helpful, positive attitude and honesty, team spirit, and involvement in CSR and company activities.


Rory was consistently dependable, reliable and efficient, and conscientious.

“It’s great to be recognised for good performance especially when a large part of the award was due to customer service. It’s such a key part of our business and something all the staff at Cornmarket take care to excel at.”

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Travelling abroad by car, france driving rules
IAM RoadSmart, IAM Surety, IAM insurance, ROAD SAFETY for children

This blog has been approved by IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is the official insurance provider for IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is a trading brand of Cornmarket Insurance.

After months of hard work, what is more rewarding than a break away? They say travel broadens the mind and road tripping, in particular, is a great way to see the scenery and take in the atmosphere of a new country. If you plan on renting a car or taking your car abroad we have some helpful tips to keep you safe.


Thorough planning is of utmost importance, unless you really are looking to quite literally lose yourself. Research the country, familiarise yourself with the road and have a look at the weather forecast. Plan the route and assess the challenges you might encounter. Firstly, are you confident in your ability to drive on the other side of the road? Are there tolls? Where are the petrol stations?

We strongly advise you to service your vehicle before leaving the UK. Make sure that you check your oil and water. Check the cost of fuel in advance and incorporate the expense into your overall budget.

When driving abroad, it is essential that you hold a valid licence. If you are from the United Kingdom then your driver’s licence is valid in the EU and European Economic Area countries and Switzerland. If driving outside of the EU or EEA you may need an International Driving Permit which you can get at your local Post Office. This costs just £5.50.

Before you set off on your well-deserved break check for any delays or potential delays. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers updates on any cross channel delays.

Seat Belt Laws

In the UK it is illegal to drive without a fastened seat belt. Since 2006 wearing a seat belt is mandatory in the EU. If you are driving in a country that does not legally require seat belts, we urge you to wear one anyway – it is the most fundamental way to enhance safety in a vehicle.

Speed Limits

If you are driving on a variety of roads check out the speed limits before you go. Contrary to popular belief not all autobahns are unlimited and even on roads which are, driving at higher speeds comes with its own risks.

In Europe the speed limit in built-up areas averages at 50km/h. Outside built-up areas, including dual carriage ways, speed limits vary but they tend to be between 80 – 100km/h in Europe. Motorways average at 120km/h but some countries such as Denmark advocate lower speeds.

Drink Driving

Laws do vary from country to country.

In France for example, the law demands that cars have NF approved breathalysers. This law is strongly enforced.

French law states that if you have three years of experience, the alcohol limit is 0.2 grams per litre. For experienced drivers and motorcyclists the limit is 0.5 grams per litre.

However in Germany there is a zero tolerance policy to drink driving. You many not drink and drive at all. The German authorities are strict in their treatment of drivers who breach this law.

Accidents and Precautions

Accidents do happen. Always remember, if possible, to remain calm and contact your insurance provider. Each country has their own protocol for dealing with accidents. From October 2008 all drivers in France, including drivers of cars registered outside of France, must have one warning triangle and one reflective jacket in their vehicle. Penalties are spot fines of €90 – €135.

French motorways are privately managed, you are not allowed to request your own assistance company to attend to you if you break down. If you break down you should use the orange emergency telephones which are situated every 2km along main roads and motorways to call the police or the official breakdown service operating in that area. Alternatively, if no orange telephone is available motorists should call the emergency services by dialling 112.

Before you set off on your holiday, we recommend you check in with your insurance company to ensure your policy covers you for travelling abroad.

GPS & Maps

Bring a GPS to help navigate the roads. We would also suggest an old fashioned map for back up. Satellite signals are not always reliable but maps are. Buy one before you go and chart your trip. If travelling with children this could be a great way of teaching them independence and geography.

It is worth noting that the use or possession of devices to detect police radar is illegal in all European countries. As are using Sat Nav devices with speed camera location warnings in France. Penalties can include a fine, driving ban or even prison.


Whether travelling in the summer or winter take heed of the weather conditions in the country you are travelling to. Rain, hail or shine, be prepared. In France, they have a different speed limit for wet weather conditions.

If you are uncertain of any driving and motoring laws, we advise you to check the relevant country’s local embassy for further information.








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Car headlight
IAM RoadSmart, IAM Surety, IAM insurance, ROAD SAFETY for children

This blog has been approved by IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is the official insurance provider for IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is a trading brand of Cornmarket Insurance.

Technological advancements are constantly and dramatically changing how we live our lives. Moore’s Law states that the processing power of computers doubles every two years. Since that law was established in 1970, technology has revolutionised almost every aspect of our lives. Mobile devices are an extension of our very existence. How we communicate, behave and travel is now governed by smart technologies. There is no denying the profound impact this has had on our everyday lives. But what do these new technologies mean for driving and cars? In our latest blog, we delve into the best new technologies that can improve your driving experience and safety.


The hybrid, through propulsion technology, reduces the car’s carbon emissions. This benefits the consumer as they are lower in cost to run and kinder to the planet.

Although the hybrid car has been on the market for a number of years it has yet to crack the wider consumer market despite generous tax incentives. The clunky design of early models may have impeded sales to those more inclined towards exuding status and enjoying luxury.  However, recent years have seen a great increase in the selection of hybrids and electric cars that range from the pragmatic to the sublime and everything in between.

We can look forward to sleeker designs and better performances with the likes of Bentley’s Bentayga and BMW’s i8 Spyder hitting the market. Efficient and stylish – what more could one ask for?

Talking Cars

We don’t mean Kit or Lightning McQueen here! Interactive cars are in development and will offer the driver a way of communicating safely with other motorists. BMW and Mercedes are in the trial stages of implementing these technologies into their ranges. These super advanced cars will utilise NFC chips and SIM cards to communicate with each other and their surroundings resulting in an operating system that can recognise obstructions and dangers that the human eye can’t see. While it might sound tempting to have a car that takes anxiety out of driving, there is an argument that it could make us more complacent as drivers.  What any such advancements will mean for the rules of the road is anyone’s guess –   no doubt, a cause for intense discussion in the coming decades.

Smart Lights

A car that senses danger and darkness. No, it’s not the Batmobile but Audi’s latest foray into the smart car sector. Gone are the days of the humble bulb. This technology utilises lasers to adapt to the light or darkness as needed in any given scenario. The main advantage for drivers is that they will adjust the ‘beam’ automatically when approaching oncoming traffic. Similarly other manufacturers have developed swivel lights that rotate and move in the socket allowing for greater precision when directing light beams. You might say the future is looking well and truly bright. (Sorry)


Any regular readers will know how vehemently opposed we are to the use of smart phones while driving. It is dangerous and illegal.  Apple and Google have found a way to infiltrate one of the few app free spaces – the car. Android and iOS systems will be available for Volvo, Ford, VW and Vauxhall in 2016. Reviews have suggested that Apple is the leader in its usability but it is still early days for how these apps will impact driving and the driving experience.

Gesture Control

Dials and knobs are out and hand gestures are in. Welcome the infrared camera. It will live on the rear view mirror and pick up certain hand movements connected to a series of functions. BMW has introduced this feature in their 7 Series. Their aim is to declutter the car and offer an easier and more ergonomic cabin in which to drive. The expectation is for dashboards to increasingly become touch screen, virtual and gesture based – likely impacting the aesthetic design of, and behaviour in, cars.

Driverless Cars

Google have been pioneering driverless cars for a couple of years now, with many of the major global car brands like Ford, Mercedes and Toyota indicating that this is the logical conclusion for the transport industry. No doubt next on the list is time travel. Enter DeLorean!









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Car manouvres that people get wrong
IAM RoadSmart, IAM Surety, IAM insurance, ROAD SAFETY for children

This blog has been approved by IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is the official insurance provider for IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is a trading brand of Cornmarket Insurance.

Even though you might have been driving for years, it doesn’t mean your skills are perfect. If you had to go back and sit your test right now, would you pass? Bad habits are easy to develop, you might take the odd short cut here and there when under pressure but guess what? Bad habits make for worse drivers. And even the most diligent drivers among us need a refresher from time to time.
We wanted to look at the most common driving manoeuvres and call on you all to consider what bad habits you have picked up and consider how to correct them. Maybe you’re a perfect driver but know someone who needs a refresher on the basics? Let us highlight the 5 basic driving manoeuvres that everybody gets wrong.

1. Reversing around a corner

This is something that we all practised for the test, but in reality the manoeuvre is conducted with less precision and more frantic turning of the wheel. The main points of failure that occur when reversing around a corner are ineffective observation or a lack of accuracy or even both.

Be sure that mirrors are positioned correctly, and be sure to check these again before you begin to manoeuvre. Align the handles of the doors with the kerb. Small turns of the wheel while looking in the mirrors is key. Remember to take your time as there is no rush. Do not be afraid to stop, take stock and readjust your position.

2. Roundabouts

Roundabouts are there to help the flow of traffic yet so many people seem to get confused. Many people become uncertain about which turn to make, when to signal and how to react to the merging onto the roundabout.

When approaching a roundabout give way to drivers on the right. Make sure you are in the correct lane. Signal clearly if you want to change lane. When approaching the exit you wish to take, indicate and make the turn.

3. Amber Lights

Many motorists see an amber light and speed up, when in reality they need to prepare to stop. The driver is obliged to stop unless the light is green. The driver can then proceed if it is safe to do so. When the amber light is lit up, the car must stop unless it has crossed the stop line. Time after time we have all seen people try and take a chance. And think ahead. If a light has been green for a long time, be prepared to stop.

4. Parallel Parking

This type of parking has been the butt of many jokes. Parallel parking can be a test of patience and how well you can manoeuvre your car. There is a knack to it that not everyone masters. It seems obvious but firstly make sure the parking spot will fit your car. Align your car with the car in front. Take your time and turn the wheel. Check your blind spot and the back of the car. Begin to to reverse. As you reverse, begin turning into the spot.

Stop reversing when the back of the car is in the exact middle of the space. Then stop and turn your wheel back to the centre position. Reverse slowly until your car clears the front. Then stop again. Lock the wheel to the left. Reverse and keep the wheel locked to the left. Once your car is parked parallel to the kerb, turn the wheels forward.

5. Coasting

Coasting happens when the clutch is pressed to the floor while the car is moving and it is one of the most common bad habits drivers can have. Coasting damages the clutch and reduces car control. If you are aware that you coast while you drive, this is a good start as you have identified the issue. Now be vigilant when you are coasting. Many people find it happens when they are taking corners or turning. One good tip is to make sure you are driving at the appropriate speed and in the right gear. It is advised that you accelerate from 5 mph to 10 mph and remain in second gear until you have completed the corner or turn.


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