Minister Flanagan calls on the insurance industry to do more to address costs for consumers
28 March 2019
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, said the insurance industry needs to do more to reduce the costs of premiums. He was speaking in the context of a Seanad debate on damages for personal injuries.
Minister Flanagan said:
“The level of awards in personal injury cases needs to be addressed and, indeed, a number of initiatives are in place. In particular, the Law Reform Commission has committed to conducting a detailed analysis to facilitate the introduction of constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries. I am pleased that the Law Reform Commission has agreed to prioritise this work and that this initiative has been endorsed by the Cost of Insurance Working Group.”
The Minister said the insurance industry needed to do more to address insurance costs. He said:
“The insurance industry in Ireland is very profitable and, while I commend the companies involved for their success, I believe it is incumbent on them to consider the onerous costs of premiums. In my view there is not a proportionate relationship between the claims made and the constant hiking of insurance costs which are threatening livelihoods at this stage. The annual profits of ten major insurance companies amounted to between €6.1 million and €201 million at the end of 2017 with the total assets of insurance corporations reported by the Central Bank to be €305 billion at the end of last year. There is clearly scope to reduce insurance costs for consumers and I am calling on the industry to act.”
The Minister outlined some of the progress achieved by the Cost of Insurance Working Group, saying:
“The Eighth Progress Update of the Cost of Insurance Working Group was published earlier this month. It reports that of the 33 recommendations from the Cost of Insurance Working Group’s 2017 Motor Report, 29 have either been completed or categorised as “ongoing” or concluded from the Working Group’s perspective. In respect of the Working Group’s 2018 Employer and Public Liability Report, 24 out of the total of 26 action points which were due for completion during 2018 have been accomplished.
“Key achievements include the new Personal Injuries Assessment (Amendment) Act 2019 to be commenced on 3 April 2019 which will reinforce the PIAB process and sets a three-year review period for the Book of Quantum; new Guidelines published for the reporting of fraudulent insurance claims to the Garda Síochána; and the active recording of insurance fraud statistics which is now taking place on the Garda PULSE system.
“The Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018 was commenced on 28 January 2019 on foot of a recommendation of the Cost of Insurance Working Group to facilitate a more in-depth analysis of annual trends in motor insurance claims. This is seen as key to developing an understanding of how claims and their costs are impacting on premiums.”
The Minister said that the Government would not oppose the Civil Liability (Capping of General Damages) Bill 2019 as it was important to facilitate a debate. However, there were many difficulties with the proposed Bill, including Constitutional difficulties which would need to be addressed at Committee Stage.