Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Department of Finance
At the outset, it is important to note that I am very much aware of the problems faced by many businesses and consumers in relation to the cost and availability of insurance. The Government will continue to prioritise reform of the insurance sector with particular emphasis on motor, public liability, and employer liability insurance. This is recognised in the Programme for Government’s cross-Departmental insurance reform agenda, which lays out commitments that are aimed at addressing consumer and business concerns on the cost of insurance; increasing transparency; examining legal reforms in the duty of care area; enhancing the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, and increasing competition. This cross-departmental approach to addressing the challenges many have faced with insurance builds and expands upon previous work carried out by the Cost of Insurance Working group.
In terms of addressing premiums in some sectors, a necessary step is to bring the levels of personal injury damages awarded in this country more in line with those awarded in other jurisdictions. The establishment of the Judicial Council in December is very important in this regard, and it is expected that the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee will submit draft Guidelines to the Judicial Council by 28 October. The guidelines could play a role in the lowering of award levels and also could lead to a more consistent application of such awards by the courts.
However, it is also important to recognise that there is no single policy or legislative to remedy the cost and availability of insurance issue. There are also many constraints faced by the Government in trying to address it, in particular the fact that it cannot direct the courts as to the award levels that should be applied, or direct insurance companies as to their pricing levels.
In conclusion, I wish to emphasise that insurance reform remains a priority for the Government. This is an issue I, as Minister for Finance, along with my Departmental colleague, Minister of State Fleming, will focus on. In doing so we will be cooperating with our Ministerial colleagues that will be participating in the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment in terms of prioritising the commitments on insurance reform.