Several experts have called for an examination of barriers faced by returning emigrants in an article in the Irish Independent.
The article focused on the high cost of car insurance for returnees, due to the fact that insurance companies currently do not take into account whether someone might have a clean driving record abroad:
Emigrants who have been gone for more than two years are being told that their ‘no claims bonus’ no longer applies as it is “impossible” for insurance companies to check the driving records of clients that have been living abroad.
One expat, who has been living in Melbourne for the last five years, says he is reconsidering plans to move home after being quoted an insurance rate of €5,400 for a2004 Audi A4 – a car worth an estimated €4,000. He was paying just €450 for car insurance on the same car before leaving in 2010.
This is part of a wider problem, as Piaras Mac Éinrí, lecturer in migration studies at University College Cork, points out:
“Would-be return emigrants face multiple hurdles now, notably in housing, insurance, transferability of pension rights and rising costs for health care which in most cases will be inferior than that available in the countries where they are now,” he said.
“Cutbacks in pay levels and uncertainty in contract terms mean that in certain cases there can be considerable gaps in wages and prospects elsewhere and here. These are powerful incentives for staying away,” he said.
Marie-Claire McAleer, head of research and policy at the National Youth Council of Ireland, is also quoted as calling on the Government to prioritise and tackle the obstacles that returning expats face, noting that “Although work has been done to address some of the barriers to return experienced by young Irish emigrants, many challenges remain”.
It is good to see the issue of car insurance costs highlighted as an issue effecting emigrants who want to return. The effects of domestic policies on returning emigrants are an important demonstration, of course, of why emigrants need a voice in the political system. While commercial agents like car insurance companies may be harder to influence, politicians and policy-makers need to be more aware of the effects of their actions on all citizens: resident, non-resident, and those hoping to return.
Read more about policies affecting emigrants.