Wednesday, 31 March 2021
Department of Finance
136. To ask the Minister for Finance the progress made by the new office to promote competition in the insurance market to date; the level of engagement that has occurred; when a reduction in the cost of insurance is expected to take effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17082/21]
361. To ask the Minister for Finance the progress of the recently established office in his Department to promote and encourage competition in the insurance market; if the office has agreed a work plan for 2021; if the work plan will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1914/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 85, 128, 136 and 361 together.
The Deputies will be aware that in recent years segments of the Irish insurance market have experienced a decline in competition due to withdrawals by several insurers and curtailed risk appetite in some market segments. In this regard, the Programme for Government includes a commitment to create an officetasked with encouraging greater competition in the Irish insurance market. As part of the Action Plan on Insurance Reform, launched last December, an Office to Promote Competition in the Insurance Market, chaired by Minister of State Fleming, was established in my Department.
The Office has met on a number of occasions since its establishment. At its most recent meeting on 22 March, the Office agreed its work programme, which was published on its website (). This work programme consists of four broad themes: Promotion; Transparency / Information; Engagement with relevant Competent Authorities, and Innovation. Minister of State Fleming will report its progress on a regular basis to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment Sub-Group on Insurance Reform.
Since its establishment, the Office has also held a number of meetings with several important stakeholders, including representatives of the insurance industry and business groups, such as Insurance Ireland and the Alliance for Insurance Reform, as well as representative of civic society including: Age Action; the Consumers Association; Union of Students in Ireland; and the National Youth Council of Ireland, to discuss consumer empowerment, and increasing the provision of relevant information. It has also had useful discussions on how other state regulators try to encourage competition in their respective sectors, including: ComReg; the Health Insurance Authority; and the Commission for Utilities Regulation. Similarly, the Office also had preliminary discussions with the Central Bank on promoting competition and switching and will engage with them further on these issues.
In conclusion, I believe that this Office is an important element of the Government's ambitious insurance reform programme and that it will employ a strategic approach to the promotion of insurance competition, including encouraging transparency and championing the provision of information in relation to the insurance market and available products.