Dáil debates

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]


6:55 pm

Photo of Seán CanneySeán Canney (Galway East, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I thank everybody for their support for this Bill.

Once a claim is notified to an insurance company, the company against which the claim has been lodged sees its insurance negatively impacted with the cost of its premia going up. That is a consequence for the company. For the person who may have instigated a fraudulent claim, there are no consequences. That is not right. This Bill is about fraudulent claims. The Regional Group is also working with the Minister on the Perjury and Related Offences Bill 2018, which is to go to Committee Stage. We hope this will happen as soon as possible.

This Bill is short but important to help turn the tide on the cost of insurance. I agree with Deputy Berry that we need a specialised Garda unit and control over the pay-out for personal injuries. I acknowledge the work of Peter Boland and the team at the Alliance for Insurance Reform, as well as ISME, in their efforts over the past number of years to highlight the detrimental effects insurance costs are having on their businesses.

As was stated earlier, Fianna Fáil supported the concept of this Bill in the previous Dáil. We realise now is the time to act on all of the talk and reports. Now is the time for action. Small businesses, voluntary clubs and sports clubs are all at risk. If they are not able to have insurance cover for their business, clubs or sports facilities, they will not continue to exist. No one wants to see anybody closing their business because they cannot afford insurance.

Over the years, some companies have been brave enough to pick on the fraudulent claims. We note the actions of Supermac's in taking on and beating the fraudulent claims against its business. We cannot rely on the Supermac's of this country, however, to actually do the business without backing them up with legislation. This legislation will ensure there are consequences for fraudulent claims while helping to reduce claims and premiums. It must be remembered at the end of the day we are talking about fraudulent claims.

I thank the Minister for her support and the Government for allowing the Bill to go through. I also acknowledge the work of former Deputy, Billy Kelleher, and Deputy Michael McGrath in the previous Dáil for the work they put into this area of insurance. We have spoken about it forever more. I know many businesspeople across the country who hold their breath when their insurance premium comes in the door. They do not know whether they will be able to afford to pay for insurance the following year or how they will pay for it. It is important that we as legislators provide the necessary support.

The plan in the programme for Government for insurance reform is to be welcomed. Everybody will support it. However, we need to have more than just reports or groups. We need to grasp the nettle. For too long we are looking for the reasons legislation will not work. We have got to a stage where we as legislators have to do what we are elected to do. We have to support the backbone of our economy, our small businesses. We have to support our sports clubs and the people who are keeping this country ticking over.

I look forward, as do all the members of the Regional Group, to working with the Minister to ensure this country is a better place for small businesses without having to worry about the cost of insurance. We must ensure that if a fraudulent claim is put in against a small business, it does not have to bear the brunt of the cost or the worry. Again, I thank the Minister and all Deputies for their support for the Bill.


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