Thursday, 12 November 2020
Department of Finance
Nursing Home Accommodation
164. To ask the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the challenges facing the nursing home sector following the withdrawal of a major insurance provider to nursing homes that have fewer than 40 beds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35896/20]
The cost and availability of insurance for many businesses, including private nursing homes, is an issue that I am very much conscious of. Having said that, neither I, nor the Central Bank of Ireland can direct the pricing or provision of insurance products, as this is a commercial matter which individual companies assess on a case-by-case basis. This position is reinforced by the EU Single Market framework for insurance (the Solvency II Directive) which expressly prohibits Member States from doing so.
In this respect, I am aware that earlier this year a company active in the Irish market ceased offering commercial liability insurance, and that this decision would have impacted certain private nursing homes. Unfortunately, the Government cannot compel insurers to provide insurance products that they, for commercial reasons, have chosen to discontinue.
Notwithstanding this, I can assure the Deputy that the Government will continue to prioritise reform of the insurance sector with particular emphasis on motor, public, and employer liability insurance. This insurance reform agenda will be driven by the recently established Insurance Reform Sub-Group of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment, chaired by An Tánaiste. This Sub-Group also includes Ministers McGrath, McEntee, and O’Gorman, together with Ministers of State Troy, Fleming and myself, as standing members. I strongly believe that this Sub-Group provides the best opportunity to address the cost and availability of insurance through a cross-Governmental response. It has recently met and is currently developing an action plan of key deliverables in line with the commitments contained in the Programme for Government.
Work is also underway in relation to increasing market transparency, including through the planned expansion of the scope of the NCID to include employer and public liability insurance; reviewing duty of care legislation; providing for the Judicial Council’s accelerated adoption by 31 July 2021 of new personal injuries guidelines to replace the Book of Quantum; consideration by the Department of Justice of the Law Reform Commission’s recent Report on Capping Damages in Personal Injuries Actions, with a view to presenting options for progressing this by the end of the year; looking at how to further enhance the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board; and making proposals on increasing competition in the Irish insurance market. It is my hope that the Sub-Group should be able to report on progress in relation to these before the end of the year.
In addition to this work, there has been a fresh round of intensive engagement with key stakeholders. In this regard, Minister of State Fleming has held meetings with the Alliance for Insurance Reform, the State Claims Agency, Insurance Ireland, Irish Public Bodies Mutual Insurance, the Central Bank of Ireland, and Brokers Ireland. More recently, he has also commenced a series of meetings with the main insurers in the Irish market. It is also his intention to meet shortly with the Law Society of Ireland and the Bar Council of Ireland.
In conclusion, the Deputy can rest assured that seeking to secure sustainable competition through deepening and widening the supply of insurance in Ireland is a key priority issue for the new Government and that Minister of State Fleming and I will play a lead role to ensure that progress is made in this policy area. Finally, for nursing homes that have queries, complaints or difficulties in obtaining insurance, Insurance Ireland operates an Insurance Information Service, which may be of assistance and can be accessed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.