Tuesday, 9 November 2021
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
The NCID contains information on the cost of non-life insurance claims. Life insurance is not part of my brief for this particular purpose. The Central Bank of Ireland is responsible for collecting this information, as well as for managing the NCID under the Central Bank Act 2018. It can allow the scope of the NCID report to evolve in line with requirements.
The Central Bank has already identified a number of enhancements it is planning to make to future reports. For motor insurance, this will include increased historic income and expenditure data; information on catastrophic weather events; and duration of claim settlements. For employer and public liability, it plans to collect additional data including more detail on costs related to re-insurance and commissions. In addition, the bank will investigate information of policy excesses and limits, and the collection of further settlement channel data following the introduction of the new personal injuries guidelines. In this regard, there is ongoing technical work being undertaken by the Central Bank and our officials. I hope that the bank will consider publishing certain NCID data more frequently than is currently the case. Many of the reports come out annually. We would all benefit from a higher frequency than just annual reports.
Separately, the Government has also agreed to draft the insurance (miscellaneous provisions) Bill, which will include further NCID enhancements. I believe it is worth highlighting that the NCID provides a level of information into the insurance sector that is unique to our market. The level of information available from our Central Bank is the greatest level of transparency of any country in Europe, including the UK, which is bringing in some measures. They do not benefit in the first case from the information from an NCID report that we already have in Ireland. I want to make that point clear.
That is welcome news. I welcome the proposed extension of the national claims information database. I note that last week, at an Oireachtas committee, Oliver Gilvarry, head of the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council secretariat made the point that enhancements to the NCID database would provide greater detail on claims which would help to drill down on the cost of the awards. I note what the Minister of State has said about the volume of information available here compared with other jurisdictions, especially the breakdown between awards and legal costs. We have seen with the database that the more information that comes through, the more information policy makers have to move forward and identify what changes need to be made. Is it the intention to make sure that more data are provided?
Absolutely. We will have an outstanding level of transparency about these issues. The first thing that I should say every time I talk about insurance, especially about home and motor insurance, is that we know about the loyalty penalty for the motor insurance industry. Many people who have a policy for more than ten years are paying 10% or 15% more than they should be. We will make arrangements to ensure that that is dealt with. The same happens with home insurance but the penalty for people who stay with the same insurance company, sometimes for decades, can be over 30%, and we want to deal with that issue too. My main message regarding insurance is to shop around. When people get a bill, they should make a phone call or go online. My experience from listening to all the people I speak with is that they regularly get a reduction in the cost of their premium when they make an effort. It is a bit like going into a shop, complaining about the price of a product, and going to the shop next door to see if it is offering the same product at a lower price. I have a number of upcoming priorities. The speaking time does not permit me to provide the information so I will forward it to the Deputy.
I thank the Minister of State. It is certainly good information for consumers. The first Central Bank report on the national claims information database was published more than a year ago. It identified that in reality, the award to the individual, whether through PIAB or the courts, was pretty much the same. Coming back to the database, that is why, according to the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council, it is so important to see the information flow so that the industry can be challenged about why prices are not falling. When can we expect to see the changes take effect? What impact does the Minister of State anticipate it will have on the cost of insurance overall?
The most common claims being dealt with by the new guidelines were for soft tissue injuries, whiplash etc. They did not deal with catastrophic injuries. People who have lifelong catastrophic injuries need all the funding they can get. I should have said earlier that the Minister for Justice gave a commitment today, when guidelines were announced, to prepare a report at the end of this year, which is only a month or two away. That commitment is on the public record. We will shortly see a report from the Minister about that area. We are looking at the publication of the third national claims information database on motor insurance. We are reforming the duty of care legislation. The Minister, Deputy McEntee, is giving that immediate priority. We are establishing a database in the Central Bank for new entrants with greater transparency. We are continuing Ireland's engagement at a European level with regard to Solvency II reviews. We are preparing legislation to enhance the role of PIAB. I met with the Garda Commissioner about uninsured drivers. The road traffic legislation that was recently published will have an impact on motor insurance.