Dáil debates

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Insurance Industry

10:25 pm

Photo of Kieran O'DonnellKieran O'Donnell (Limerick City, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister of State with responsibility for insurance, Deputy Fleming, for taking the debate.

An ice rink operator in Limerick city, Fran O'Donnell, has gone public. He was on Newstalk earlier today. He has run an ice rink in Limerick for the past 15 years, claim-free, yet he cannot get insurance cover. That is the case with all ice rinks, which are a traditional feature of Christmas time up and down the country. Equally, other areas of the leisure sector cannot get cover. This situation arose for a number of reasons. It emerged following Covid that the mainstream insurance companies in Ireland are not covering many aspects of the leisure industry. In many cases, the sector was being covered by insurance companies operating from within the EU with passporting rights, and some from the UK. Brexit has been a factor also.

I understand there are applications before the Central Bank from insurance providers from Europe and the UK that would provide cover in the leisure sector, but the applications are taking a serious amount of time. I spoke to some insurance providers in Ireland who are seeking to become registered to provide insurance. They are going to other countries such as Malta where they are processed more quickly, and they can operate in Ireland with passporting rights. I would like companies operating in the insurance market in Ireland to be regulated here. It gives comfort both to the individuals being insured and the entire sector.

I urge the Minister of State to take up the matter with the Central Bank to see what the status of the applications are for these companies. Following the pandemic, we now need to carry out a proper review of the insurance cover that is being provided. There is an onus on the main insurance companies in Ireland to provide insurance across all sectors, not just specific sectors, which is the case currently.

The Minister of State is probably aware that the Alliance for Insurance Reform published a survey today and I wish to refer to a number of its features. First, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, PIAB, announced a 40% reduction in the average personal injury award. Second, we must set up a register in the Central Bank or even in the Department. When the insurance companies were before the finance committee three years ago, the main companies gave me a personal commitment that any reduction in claims and legal fees would be passed on pro ratain insurance premiums. That must be tracked on a daily basis. That is something we must see happen.

Will the Minister of State contact the Central Bank about companies that are seeking to operate in Ireland to provide insurance cover? Will he examine why insurance cover is not being provided in the leisure industry? Will he contact the Central Bank on all those matters?


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