Wednesday, 13 March 2019
Business Insurance: Motion [Private Members]
I thank Deputy Michael McGrath and Fianna Fáil for giving us this opportunity to speak on this very important motion on insurance costs. Every one of us is affected by the cost of insurance. Public liability and employers liability insurance are very difficult to obtain because of the rising costs.
No thanks to the Minister, Deputy Ross, or to everyone in the Government and many in the House for supporting him, pubs are closing as it is and are finding it hard enough to stay open. On top of this, the cost of insurance is increasing. Between rates, levies and the rising cost of insurance, restaurants, clubs, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts are being hit. They employ people, they pay for us in here and they pay for the services of the country, including medical cards and all the grants. They are paying for the whole lot and they are being hit with the rising costs of insurance.
The Ministers and the Government have been at it for the past three years and nothing has improved. It is actually getting worse. The days are running out and the Government's time is running out and if it does not do something in the time it has left it will be remembered forever for doing nothing about the rising cost of insurance. Many communities and small parishes throughout the country run a fair day, a carnival or a music event to retain their identity. For example, Scartaglin has a world fiddle day. The one day in the year for which all these show committees and agricultural committees work is being hit with the crippling costs of insurance but nothing is being done for them.
With regard to playgrounds for children and vintage rallies, voluntary organisations are finding it very difficult to keep going. Civil contractors, agricultural contractors, plant hire companies and other companies are also finding it so difficult to keep going with the rising and crippling costs of insurance. Garages are being hit.
Marts are being hit and are finding it very difficult to remain open. One of the biggest marts in the country has closed.
The claim culture is responsible for much of the problem. How is an injury to a person's neck in Ireland so different to an injury to a person's neck in England? The most one will receive as compensation for a whiplash injury in the UK is £7,600. In Ireland, a person may receive anything from €19,000 to €77,000 for a similar injury. What is wrong there? Why is that not being examined? Why is the Government not discussing the matter with the Judiciary? Where is the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan? What is he doing about this? Why is he not talking to the Judiciary? What is being done? Nothing has been done thus far. A person was awarded €77,000 compensation for having a finger caught in a door, with legal costs accounting for 47%. Solicitors are advertising for claims. They tell people to claim and that they will not be charged if the case is not successful - no foal, no fee. That practice is wrong. It should be stopped because it is the height of blackguarding.
There is so much wrong. The young drivers in rural Ireland who are very important to us and need their cars to go to college, work, apprenticeships and so on have also been affected. Now that they are not allowed to drive without passing their test or being accompanied by a qualified driver, their insurance should decrease, but it is increasing. They are being quoted figures such as €3,500, €4,500 or even €5,000 for insurance to get on the road. What does the Government have against our young people? Why is it trying to keep them off the road? It is bad enough that they must wait six, seven or eight months for a driving test. Why is the Government trying so hard to keep them off the road?
Taxi drivers are paying anything from €13,000 to €17,000 or €18,000 for insurance. Driving is their livelihood. They need to stay on the road to earn a living. Hauliers are being hit with increases in public liability and employer liability insurance as well as vehicle insurance. They are receiving savagely high quotes and are under serious pressure to stay in business.
The Minister of State, Deputy D'Arcy, is representing the Government on this motion. It is up to the Government to do something. It is no good for him to tell the House that the Government cannot interfere with the Central Bank. If it cannot, who can? If the Minister of State and the Taoiseach cannot do something about this issue, they might as well own up to that and admit that is time for them to get out of here. A salutary lesson can be learned from the Government's handling of the issue of the cost of insurance.