Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Finance
138. To ask the Minister for Finance the status of measures being taken to tackle insurance costs, particularly public liability insurance costs; when these measures will be put in place and take effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9435/19]
As the Deputy is aware, the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG), now chaired by the Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance, Mr. Michael D’Arcy T.D., was established in July 2016 and has undertaken an examination of the factors contributing to the increasing cost of insurance in order to identify what short, medium and long-term measures could be introduced to help reduce the cost of insurance for consumers and businesses.
The initial focus of the Working Group was the issue of rising motor insurance premiums and the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance was published in January 2017.
In its second phase, the Working Group examined the cost of business insurance, specifically employer liability insurance and public liability insurance. This work culminated in the publication of the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance in January 2018. The EL/PL Report makes 15 recommendations with 29 associated actions, to be carried out in agreed timeframes set out in an Action Plan.
The recommendations from these two primary Reports are often inter-related and overall represent an important part of the broader insurance reform agenda. Key recommendations in the two Reports seek to increase transparency in the sector, as well as improve the personal injuries litigation framework and costs environment by encouraging greater use of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board and reviewing the level of damages in personal injury cases.
Work is ongoing on the implementation of the recommendations from the two Reports by the relevant Government Departments and Agencies and the Working Group has published quarterly updates on its progress. The seventh such update was published in November 2018 and shows that of the total number of 78 separate relevant deadlines within the Action Plans of the two Reports set up to the end of Q3 2018, 63 relate to actions which have been completed.
Both of the primary Reports and the quarterly updates are available on the Department’s website.
It is envisaged that the next quarterly Progress Update will be completed by the end of this month and in relation to the EL/PL Report, I can inform the Deputy that the vast majority of the total of 26 action points which were due for completion during 2018 overall have been done, and am confident that any outstanding action points will be completed in the coming months, along with the three remaining action points with deadlines set for various quarters throughout 2019.
The actions implemented to date cut across a number of different areas and include:
- The publication by An Garda Síochána of the “Guidelines for the Reporting of Suspected Fraudulent Insurance Claims by Insurance Entities to An Garda Síochána”
- The Law Reform Commission confirming that the subject of caps on damages for personal injuries litigation is included in its draft Fifth Programme of Law Reform
- Sections 8 & 14 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 have been amended to ensure defendants are appropriately notified of a claim having been submitted against their policy and to make it easier for businesses and insurers to challenge cases where fraud or exaggeration is suspected, respectively
- An Garda Síochána commencing the collection of statistics under the new “insurance fraud” category which has been added to the PULSE system
- The Courts Service confirming that it will publish a more detailed breakdown of awards in personal injury cases in its Annual Reports.
Finally, I would like to assure the Deputy that the CIWG will continue to focus on implementing the recommendations of both the Motor and Employer and Public Liability Reports. In particular, there will be an emphasis on implementing the recommendations of the second Personal Injury Commission Report in order to try and bring the levels of damages awarded in this country more in line with those awarded in other jurisdictions.
I am hopeful that the cumulative effects of the implementation of the two Reports’ recommendations will result in a more competitive insurance market and thus increased stability in the pricing of insurance in general including public liability cover.