The Alliance, which brings together 46 civic and business organisations from across Ireland representing over 55,000 members, 700,000 employees, 622,000 volunteers and 374,000 students in highlighting the negative impact of persistently high premiums, has called for real reforms that will quickly reduce liability and motor insurance premiums to affordable levels and keep them that way.
“The Government’s Sub Group on Insurance Reform, chaired by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, promised the general scheme of a Bill on duty of care by September 2021,” said Peter Boland, Director of the Alliance.
AIR has still not seen that Bill and Government’s Spring 2022 legislative programme. means that it’s unlikely to see any meaningful progress on this critical issue during 2022, says Peter Boland.
Tracy Sheridan, owner of Kidspace play centres in Rathfarnham and Rathcoole and Director of the Alliance, said, “Too often, ‘occupiers’ (homeowners, SMEs, charities, sports organisations and event organisers) are now regularly assumed to have an absolute duty of care when it comes to ‘visitors’ (customers, clients and others) while the concept of personal responsibility has been significantly diminished. For the sake of every household and organisation in the country, the duty of care must be urgently rebalanced in a manner that is fair, reasonable, practical, and proportionate and in the public interest.”
Eoin McCambridge, Managing Director of McCambridge’s of Galway and Director of the Alliance added, “The Government acknowledged the seriousness of the insurance crisis in establishing the Cabinet Sub-Group for Insurance Reform in 2020 chaired by the Tánaiste and including many of the key Ministers and Ministers of State involved in this issue”.
After some initial progress on reforms such as the Judicial Guidelines, the Government announcement confirmed his fear that the Sub-Group is regressing to a box-ticking exercise, recently claiming that ‘34 actions out of 66 have been completed’ when what’s needed is an intense focus on meaningful reforms like rebalancing the duty of care, he explained.
Peter Boland also pointed out that, “As well as the missed opportunity on duty of care, the Government has long-fingered the promised reform of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board onto the ‘All other Legislation’ list which means further delays on legislation originally promised for July 2021. So the only piece of legislation regarding general insurance in the Spring 2022 programme is the Insurance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which is essentially an administrative Bill.
“The need for urgent insurance reform has been universally acknowledged for six years now and the key reforms have long been identified. By missing key timelines, the Government is in danger of turning an open goal into an own-goal. We call on the Department of Justice and the Tánaiste in his role as Chair of the Cabinet Sub Group on Insurance Reform to remove whatever barriers are delaying the duty of care legislation and fast-track it, so it’s implemented as quickly as possible.”
Tracy Sheridan pointed out that, “We cannot recover from Covid-19 as an economy or a society unless insurance is sorted.
“Government must move aggressively to resolve it, rebalancing the duty of care and bringing much greater underwriting capacity into the market to ensure that insurance costs are reduced to affordable levels and kept that way.”