Wednesday, 13 March 2019
Business Insurance: Motion [Private Members]
Fianna Fáil has long called for reform of the insurance market. It put forward this motion to highlight the unsustainable increases in business insurance. Small businesses across the country have been crippled by significant increases in insurance costs. Pubs, farms and marts have all seen their premiums rise by thousands of euro in recent years. Sadly, many such companies are no more, while the future is uncertain for many others.
Many of my Fianna Fáil colleagues have rightly pointed to the fact that the Minister of State has shown the political will to tackle this issue, but we rarely hear a whisper on it from his Government colleagues. Shame on them. Fianna Fáil has consistently raised this issue over the past three years and has tabled motion after motion which have effectively been ignored. We introduced Bills aimed at tackling this issue but they have been stalled, as highlighted by my colleague, Deputy Michael McGrath. There has been zero progress on the national claims information database and little or no progress on tackling insurance fraud. There is no sign of a publicly funded anti-fraud unit in the Garda and no action has been taken to tackle fraudulent insurance claims. Those are all achievable steps which the Government has failed to take on behalf of small and medium-sized enterprises around the country.
The Government has been similarly inactive on the issue of motor insurance. Current motor insurance premiums are 32% higher than those charged in 2014, representing an average annual increase of 6.4%. Young drivers, returning emigrants and drivers of old cars continue to be unfairly treated by a dysfunctional market. Why are judges in this country handing out payments of up to €20,000 for minor whiplash claims, or up to 400% higher than the average payout for similar injuries in the UK?
SMEs are also dealing with significant increases in commercial rates which are crippling towns and villages across Ireland. The ordinary men and women of this country have been fleeced by insurance companies for years and action by this Government is badly needed to tackle the insurance industry which has mistreated them. I ask the Minister of State to wake up and do something about insurance costs for the people of this country once and for all.