Tuesday, 29 September 2020
Department of Finance
Public Liability Insurance
I am very much aware of the problems faced by many businesses, community groups and voluntary organisations in relation to the availability and affordability of public liability insurance. However, as this is a commercial matter for insurers neither I, nor the Central Bank of Ireland, can direct the pricing of insurance products, and neither can we compel any insurer operating in the Irish market to provide cover. This position is underpinned by the EU Single Market framework for insurance (the Solvency II Directive) which expressly prohibits Member States from doing so.
As the Deputy will appreciate, there is no single policy or legislative fix to remedy the cost and availability of insurance issue. The Programme for Government identifies a range of issues that the Government will prioritise so as to benefit consumers and businesses and work will advance on this matter through the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment.
In terms of addressing the affordability and accessibility of public liability insurance, 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 executive board of the Judicial Council shortly. While the adoption of those Guidelines will be a matter for the Judicial Council, it is desirable that the Guidelines could play a role in the lowering of award levels and also could lead to a more consistent application of making awards in courts. Insurance Ireland has indicated that if award levels come down so will premiums charged by its members. I believe that this is a very important statement and this Government intends holding the insurance industry to this commitment.
In conclusion, I wish to emphasise that prioritising delivery on the commitments to insurance reform remains a priority for the Government and this is reflected in the Programme for Government.