Five key actions needed to deliver insurance reform in 2021

“It is clear that the incumbent insurers cannot be relied upon to pass on savings," said director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, Peter Boland

"Insurance must and can be sorted in 2021,” says AIR director Eoin McCambridge

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5 January 2021 | 0

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The Alliance for Insurance Reform (AIR) has claimed that the insurance crisis can be sorted in 2021 but only if five key actions are fully completed.

“Nothing the government has done so far has applied any downward pressure on insurance premiums and for charities, community and voluntary groups, sports and cultural organisations and SMEs, insurance has been unsustainably expensive now for over five years,” said Eoin McCambridge, managing director of McCambridge’s of Galway and director of the Alliance.

“If government expects Ireland to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic through SMEs, or for Irish society as a whole to recover through voluntary and community groups, then insurance must and can be sorted in 2021,” he added.

Meanwhile, Peter Boland, director of the Alliance pointed out: “In the last four years we have had the Oireachtas Finance Committee Report on Insurance Costs, two Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) reports and 11 CIWG Updates; the reports of the Personal Injuries Commission, two National Claims Information Database reports from the Central Bank, the CCPC Market Study on Liability Insurance and the Government’s Action Plan on Insurance Reform. What is abundantly clear from these is that if insurance costs are to be brought under control, there are five key issues that must be actioned this year:

  1. General damages for minor injuries must be dramatically reduced to reflect international norms and norms already established by the Court of Appeal: We await the new personal injuries guidelines to be adopted and published by the Judicial Council, due by 31 July of this year at the latest. But we have no idea what the new guidelines will look like or when we will get to see them, if at all, before they are adopted by the Courts.
  2. Redefine and re-balance the “common duty of care” to require occupiers to take a duty of care that is reasonable, practical and proportionate: We await action from the Minister for Justice that will address the situation where many policyholders find themselves 100% liable for accidents regardless of the circumstances.
  3. Establish a formal Garda response to insurance fraud: Four years after the Cost of Insurance Working Group first addressed this issue and despite commitments from An Garda Síochána in 2019 to a division-led approach, we are no closer to having a formal Garda response to insurance fraud.
  4. Reform of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board: If PIAB is not radically reformed, it will be irrelevant within a decade and the compensation of people injured due to the negligence of others will be a process managed and controlled by the legal profession, for the benefit of the legal profession, with dire consequences for the cost and availability of insurance cover in Ireland. We await urgent proposals for reform and enhancement of PIAB from Minister of State Robert Troy.
  5. Produce a schedule of forecast reductions for reforms: We need commitments from the insurance industry that all the reforms being worked on will actually lead to substantial reductions in insurance costs. We await an assessment of the expected impact on premium levels of the reforms being introduced, from Minister of State Sean Fleming.

“There are 66 actions in the Government’s Action Plan on Insurance Reform,” Boland added, “but unless these five issues are addressed this year, then 2021 will go down as the year insurance could have been sorted, but wasn’t.”

 

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