Thursday, 20 September 2018
Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Bill 2018: Second Stage
I have a speech prepared but it will not touch on many of the issues that have been raised so I will try to address them as best I can.
Deputy Curran's question as to whether we are doing enough is a fair one. The first report was in January 2017 and followed a period of consultation and analysis, approximately 19 months ago. We are now in the heavy-lifting phase. I welcome support from whatever sector, within this House or outside it, including from Insurance Ireland, to help us try to implement any measures we have not yet taken.
Deputy Curran's criticism is fair. We had expected to implement this measure by the end of quarter 2 in 2018 and we have not. We will have it operational at the start of quarter 1 in 2019. The work we have been doing to compile and publish the Bill and to get it through the Houses has been done in parallel with the working group and the Central Bank of Ireland in order that we can start on 1 January 2019. Have we missed two quarters? Yes, but this is extensive legislation and it is complicated and also involves trying to establish the group within the Central Bank.
In terms of the data from the Central Statistics Office, CSO, the decrease since the peak was two years ago in the summer of 2016, which was a decrease of 21%. It is the same CSO data regarding the increase from the low point, which was probably too low. A price war took place between insurance companies which involved undercutting and, in effect, they did damage to the sector. In some cases car insurance was less than the cost of replacing a windscreen. That was never sustainable and there has been a resultant cost. We lost approximately 40% of the companies that were in the market because the market was not profitable.
I have not heard anything about address changes previously but it is something we can examine. In terms of significant premium increases, we have looked at the issue in detail and we are satisfied that if every person who receives an increase gets a detailed explanation then all motor insurance premiums will increase. We think individualising the issue to that level would bring about a significant increase.