Wednesday, 13 March 2019
Business Insurance: Motion [Private Members]
Rising insurance costs affect everyone across the board. We have been told time and again these increased premiums are highly linked to insurance fraud. At present, no data are collected on insurance fraud. The insurance fraud database was to be set up but the original deadline was missed and no new deadline has been put in place. This is a disgrace. Fraudulent and exaggerated claims need to be clamped down on. There should be zero tolerance for all these types of claims and we need to ensure they are pursued and tackled more aggressively by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and insurance companies. We need to prioritise getting the fraud database set up. Otherwise, insurance premiums will only rise further.
I am very concerned, with Brexit on the horizon, about the green card that will be issued for motorists if there is a no-deal Brexit. This green card will be to prove the insurance company is valid in Northern Ireland and the Republic. There is a huge lack of certainty about how the green card will operate and the general public is concerned. My office is inundated with people coming to us in fear of what will happen when Brexit hits. Some insurance companies have stated they will start to use the green card after 29 March but what will happen to motorists on 30 March who do not have a green card on time? Will they be at risk of having their cars impounded? These questions need answering.
We also need to address the problem of motor insurance for people returning home to Ireland after living abroad. These people are being quoted extremely high premiums, having left this country and worked abroad for many years. In many cases they are bringing employment back to their own country but they are being absolutely messed about by insurance companies. We should welcome back these people who have decided to return home and ensure they are not priced out of the market.
While speaking about insurance, I cannot forget the businesses in rural Ireland that are struggling to pay extremely high employer and public liability insurance premiums. I have given the example of West Cork Secret, a garden in Kilbrittain that offers an excellent amenity to the area but suffers crippling insurance costs. I have heard that amenities and playgrounds run by local communities are no longer being quoted for insurance. This is a new difficulty for community voluntary organisations.
How is any business meant to survive or grow with huge obstacles such as excessive insurance premiums landing in their way? In recent weeks, we have heard that insurance companies are making incredible profits of millions of euros. Do they have any scruples or moral conscience whereby they might consider giving them back to their customers who have been loyal to them over the years and are being fleeced left, right and centre? Is there any control over these insurance companies? It is time public representatives took back some control. Shops, pubs and nightclubs are all under increased pressure to keep their doors open, as are garages. We are grey in the face from speaking to people. We have spent enough time discussing the rising costs of insurance and it is high time we saw real action. We want to see the insurance policies of the people of Ireland reducing and not going the way they have over recent years.