The Office of Fair Trading has been urged to investigate the Northern Irish car insurance market.

The Consumer Council of Northern Ireland has made a formal submission to the OFT to examine the rapid recent rises in the cost of car insurance in the province.

The council is also launching an online petition for consumers to pledge their support and provide comments about their experiences purchasing car insurance, which will be submitted to the OFT and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In addition, the council is calling on the Department for Justice and the NI Assembly’s Justice Committee to examine the impact of insurance claims costs and is due to meet Northern Ireland's environment minister to ask for practical initiatives to support younger drivers.

Consumer Council chief executive Antoinette McKeown said: “Car insurance premiums have increased by almost 73% in the last two years and the situation is even worse for younger drivers whose premiums have increased by a staggering 112%.

“The average yearly car insurance premium is now £923.90and with the increasing cost of fuel the Consumer Council is concerned it will force some people off the road altogether, or lead to an increase in motorists driving illegally without insurance.”