Dáil debates

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Business Insurance: Motion [Private Members]

 

1:50 pm

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)

I move:

"That Dáil Éireann: recognises that:— micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises currently employ over one million people in Ireland according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO);

— the cost of employer liability insurance and public liability insurance is a direct threat to the competitiveness and sustainability of many businesses throughout the country, including, micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, sports clubs and facilities, charities, community and voluntary organisations, play centres, livestock marts, pubs and bars;

— the National Competitiveness Council has cited the cost of doing business in Ireland as a major concern, and that hidden costs such as insurance remain a pressure point for businesses;

— the Report on the Cost of Doing Business from the Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation placed insurance front and centre as an issue for ‘most business organisations’;

— many businesses are reporting large increases in employer and public liability insurance premiums, many more cannot even obtain a quote, forcing them to self-insure, which puts both businesses and claimants at risk, and large increases in insurance excess and a greater use of insurance exclusions have also been reported;

— the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) has confirmed that the data shows personal injury claims in Ireland are out-of-sync with other jurisdictions;

— the PIC recommended that corrective action is required to bring personal injury damages back in line with other jurisdictions, that the Judicial Council Bill 2017 be progressed through the Houses of the Oireachtas as quickly as possible and that a judicial council should bring forward guidance on the level of personal injury damages;

— the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) was established in 2004 to provide an alternative dispute resolution mechanism to assess personal injury claims to often costly adversarial court proceedings;

— 33,114 applications were received in 2017 by PIAB, only 6,788 awards out of 12,663 made were accepted, and the remaining cases were dealt with outside the PIAB process;

— there is currently no data collected tracking the changes in premiums for employer liability and public liability, which means the problem remains under the surface;

— insurance fraud is one of the many reasons why insurance premiums are high, and there is currently no data collected on insurance fraud, be it from the Garda PULSE insurance fraud statistics or from the Courts Service;

— the insurance fraud database has yet to be established, the original deadline has been missed, and no new deadline has been put in place;

— in many instances, insurance companies are not challenging claims they believe to be dubious and potentially fraudulent; and

— insurance companies use non-disclosure at the point of a claim rather than at the policy proposal stage in order to avoid the payment of a claim;and calls on the Government to:— fully establish without delay the national claims information database inclusive of public liability and employer liability and an integrated insurance fraud database which includes the number of complaints made to An Garda Síochána, the number of cases brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the number of convictions made at both District and Circuit Court level, and the penalties and the sentences handed down;

— legally oblige insurance companies to notify policyholders of claims made against them as claims are made, to inform policyholders of the amount a claim was settled for and the reasons why the claim was settled, and to provide a breakdown of the premium;

— outline a timeline for the implementation of each of the 14 recommendations made by the PIC regarding personal injury awards;

— immediately commence recent legislative proposals passed by the Oireachtas which will require that PIAB update the Book of Quantum every three years or sooner;

— apply pressure to the insurance industry to be forthcoming with data in order for the Department of Finance to complete a key information report on public liability and employer liability insurance claims;

— urgently advance the Judicial Council Bill 2017 to establish a judicial council and establish an interim framework, inclusive of PIAB, to enable the judiciary to complete guidelines in advance of the establishment of the judicial council;

— fully fund and resource a dedicated Garda fraud unit, facilitate the passage through the Oireachtas of the Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill 2018, so that fraudulent or exaggerated claims are reported to the DPP and bring in tougher penalties for such claims;

— undertake analysis on the potential options for micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises which cannot obtain public liability or employer liability insurance from any company operating in Ireland;

— urgently work with the CSO to bring forward an objective measure of the level of public liability and employer liability insurance;

— urgently tackle the 18 outstanding action points in the Cost of the Insurance Working Group’s Reports on Motor Insurance and Employer and Public Liability Insurance, including the action points marked ‘Concluded (for CIWG)’; and

— work towards creating a single European market for insurance to better enable businesses to shop around for employer and public liability insurance."

I will share this speaking slot with six Deputies. I will take seven to eight minutes and they will take approximately two minutes each.

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