Thursday, 11 July 2019
Department of Finance
218. To ask the Minister for Finance his views on whether a database (details supplied) should be managed and controlled by the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31430/19]
219. To ask the Minister for Finance if the State provides information to an organisation (details supplied) for a database; if so, the type of information shared; if there is a data sharing agreement between the State and the organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31431/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 218 and 219 together.
The database referenced by the Deputy is a claims matching database currently run by Insurance Ireland to assist its members in the detection and defence of potentially fraudulent claims. The Cost of Insurance Working Group( CIWG) examined this database with a view to determining how effective it was from an operational perspective. It concluded that in light of the limitations identified that a fully functioning integrated insurance fraud database should be established and that this would have to be managed by an independent not-for-profit body but funded by the industry. It was considered that such a database would be provided to all insurance companies participating in the Irish market for the purposes of identifying patterns of fraud.
The current position is a working group chaired by the Department of Justice and Equality is currently working on the implementation of this recommendation to develop an insurance fraud database to which all insurers will have access once complete. However, this is a complex project which needs to fully consider data protection implications and therefore it has taken more time to implement than was anticipated when the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance was published.
I agree with the view of the CIWG that a new fully functioning integrated fraud database should be established. In this regard, I believe that the State managing and controlling the existing database would be a sub-optimal solution in dealing with the issue of insurance fraud. I would note that the proposal that this new integrated fraud database be managed by an independent not-for-profit body but funded by industry, would meet the objective of removing industry’s control of the database and be more economical as the taxpayer should not have to pay for a service which is ultimately of benefit to insurers. In addition, the nature of the CIWG proposal is that it will most likely make the existing database redundant as it relates to fraud detection.
Finally, it should be noted that as Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation and therefore have no role in the operation of, or the provision of information to the organisation mentioned or this database. However as the Deputy will note from the attached link a number of the Members of the Self Insured Taskforce who have access to this database are state bodies. Details of the database can be accessed at:
220. To ask the Minister for Finance the progress the CSO is making in compiling a price index for public liability and employer liability; his views on whether such an index will be created; when such an index will be up and running; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31436/19]
Increasing the availability of data in relation to Employer and Public Liability Insurance is a matter which was discussed by the Cost of Insurance Working Group in its Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance (2018). It recommended a number of actions to improve transparency in this area. Amongst these, Recommendation 1 requires the Central Statistics Office (CSO) to consider the feasibility of collecting price information on the cost of insurance to businesses, and if it considers such an index feasible to make appropriate proposals.
The Deputy will be aware that the CSO submitted a draft report to the Department of Finance in December 2018 on the work undertaken on the feasibility study to date. It subsequently provided a final report to the CIWG in January 2019. In this report, the CSO outlined the method that they would recommend for the compilation of a price index for public and employer liability insurance. I understand that this method is currently being piloted by the CSO and that good progress has been made. In this context, the CSO is working closely with a technology partner and has had positive engagement to date from most of the relevant insurance companies. I understand from the CSO that the pilot project will conclude at the end of September.
In that context, I would expect that it will make a report to the CIWG in relation to its recommendation on a path forward. It should be noted however that the CSO is an independent Office and it will ultimately be for them to determine whether or not to proceed with such an index.
221. To ask the Minister for Finance when the national claims information database will incorporate public liability and employer liability data; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31437/19]
As the Deputy is aware, the scope of the National Claims Information Database (NCID) was designed in such a way as to enable it be expanded to include other classes of insurance, e.g. liability, property, etc. in the future. However the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) considered it important that the first focus of the database should be on the collection of private motor data. It should be noted that this motor exercise is well advanced and the Central Bank is expected to publish its first report later this year.
In parallel with its work on the private motor data exercise, I have been informed that the Central Bank has been considering the merits and feasibility of collecting data related to general liability insurance (or public and employer liability insurance) from all relevant insurance undertakings operating in the State. This is in line with the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance recommendation on this matter.
I understand that the Central Bank is currently engaging with external stakeholders, including industry and consumer representative groups, to confirm the key data requirements, and will also research the employer and public liability insurance environment in other jurisdictions, focussing on data availability. The Central Bank intends to produce its feasibility report by the end of 2019, and I understand that this will include recommended data submission requirements.
In conclusion, I am satisfied that progress is being made with regard to this recommendation.