Insurance for drivers without an Irish license
I consulted Liam's very helpful article about getting car insurance. So far, I have found only one company that will insure the owner of a car with a US license: Allianz.ie.
I called my insurance company, and they sent me the "loss letter." I also made sure that there was a note in my file that they had permission to discuss my insurance history Allianz, because they call and validate the letter. Allianz was very glad that I was starting the process a month before I planned to buy a car.
They won't give an actual quote until the car is purchased, but they said that they work with any car dealer, and they said that I won't run into the problem that Liam mentioned, where the dealer only worked with certain insurance brokers.
We'll see. I'll update with new info later.
Liberty also insures drivers on an American License - it is expensive, but your options are limited. I wanted to point out that it is possible to get insured on an American license for a second year, as long as you have a Provisional Irish license.
We are now entering our second year here in Ireland, and started the Irish License process about 5 months ago. Obviously, it is best to start this as soon as you possibly can, however with work and kids it can prove difficult to find the time for the lessons.
I think it is assumed that you can only be insured for 1 year, however that is not the case. The current process to get a full driver's license in Ireland makes it practically impossible to get this done within a year.
I was able to purchase and insure a car, but it was a hassle.
1) I bought a Honda Fit. This is just like a Honda Jazz, but it is an "import." I'm not sure what the difference is, but the insurance company was reluctant to insure it, even after issuing me a quote. So make sure that when you get the quote it is for the actual car you are going to buy.
2) I had to cancel my insurance in the States to get the "no claims bonus" from the Irish insurance company. This meant I lost the 9% discount on the cars I still have in the states. Once you get a "loss letter, cancel your insurance, and send it to Allianz, they will need to independently verify the letter. Allianz wouldn't call or fax the US, so the agent gave me her company email address for them to use.
The insurance rates and coverage by Allianz was much cheaper and a better value than what I had for the US insurer, AAA.