Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs

Insurance Cover for Crèches: Discussion

Photo of Catherine NooneCatherine Noone (Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

As other members have mentioned, I am pleased that this is a solution focused meeting. Overall, the sector has been challenging for workers and owners over the last period. The uncertainty at this time of the year is very stressful. We all accept that and I am grateful that the Minister agreed to meet us today.

On the regulation that was introduced recently, we have given greater powers to Tusla and there has been greater regulation for approximately three years. Is there a correlation between the increase in insurance prices and the fact that the sector is more highly regulated? I was asked that question today.

The State Claims Agency deals mainly with public services, primarily medical but also some others. Is there a possibility that in extreme cases some of the liability could be passed on to the State Claims Agency? In the past, private sector obstetricians could get cover in that way. It would be worth exploring that for a worst case scenario.

As a solicitor, I often deal with insurance defence work so I am very familiar with how insurance companies operate. Surely the insurance company could offer the same discount to all childcare providers. I do not see why providers should be precluded from receiving the discount available to members of Early Childhood Ireland. I do not know how many providers are members of the Early Childhood Ireland. I know this facility exists in other sectors like the restaurant sector. Lobby groups are providing a very good service to members by securing such deals. I cannot get my head around the idea that the insurance companies would not afford the same discount to other providers.

To return to a point raised by Deputy Neville, there are numerous insurers and insurance is a very complicated business. Most of the companies in Ireland operate out of London. As Ms Corrigan said, the reason the broker system exists is to deal with the nuances and complexities that exist in certain areas. We should focus on getting more companies to write business in this area because where there is only one provider, that company will hold a huge amount of power. It is obvious that when brokers deal with these types of businesses on a regular basis they will develop a relationship with a particular insurance company. This facilitates insurance contracts being executed quickly, etc., but it also leaves the business completely vulnerable, no more than a solicitor's office with one client has all its eggs in one basket. One must diversify one's business base. A core issue must be to try to get more insurance companies to write business in the area.