Wednesday, 9 December 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I wish to raise the issue of insurance. All Senators are well aware of the big problem it is for many people and businesses across the country. I welcome the new action plan for insurance reform published by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Varadkar, but I wish to highlight some things I believe need to be changed. I wish to put on record that we should compliment Deputy Kieran O'Donnell, a former Senator, who brought many of these issues to the fore. He has not received the media attention he deserves as other parties have claimed credit for his work, but if people look back over the record, they will see he was the first person to really tease out the issue of insurance.
The Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland, MIBI, was established in 1955 under an agreement between the then Government and the companies underwriting motor insurance in Ireland. Its purpose is to compensate victims of road traffic accidents caused by uninsured or unidentified vehicles. All companies underwriting motor insurance must be a member of MIBI. They fund it by means of an annual levy to which all those with motor insurance contribute. However, following personal experience, I found that MIBI has no liability for vehicle or property damage claims where the alleged offending vehicle is not identified by means of its registration plates. The MIBI will not assist claimants in such cases. The only exception to that arises where the claimant makes a personal injury claim. There is a fund that all those with motor insurance pay into to cover claims relating to uninsured and unidentified drivers, but unless one makes a personal injury claim as well as claiming for vehicular damage, one is not entitled to claim from the fund. Basically, one is not entitled to get one's vehicle fixed if that is all one is looking for. I know that from personal experience. I was injured in the incident but I have no interest in taking a personal injury case. I just want to get my car fixed but I was not able to do so because I was not making a personal claim. This issue needs to be examined.
That said, we are moving in the right direction on the matter. Judges look at all the facts when motor claims come before the court. Last week, a court case was widely publicised on television news and in newspapers when a judge dismissed claims for up to €60,000 as the four men making the claims grossly exaggerated their case and knowingly misled the court about a collision in my home county of Longford. The men have received tens of thousands of euro in compensation payouts over the past 20 years.The law needs to be changed. It is a crime for people to make false claims.