It has also expressed concerns that the recent market study on public liability insurance published by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission will become “just another report”.
“The CCPC report raises the issue of access to the InsuranceLink claims database currently controlled by established insurers,” said Alliance Director Peter Boland, “Access to the motor insurance element of this database is currently being investigated by the European Commission.
“We call on the Commission to now expand the scope of its investigation to include liability insurance. Additionally, as recommended by the CCPC, that database must be transferred to independent control and made available to any insurer wishing to offer cover in the Irish market. This issue was flagged in the very first Cost of Insurance Working Group report in January 2017 but has been bogged down ever since.
“We welcome the CCPC’s recommendation that the role of PIAB be enhanced and expanded ‘to provide for it to become the main personal injury settlement channel in the State’ and in particular its suggestion that ‘this could be done by allocating a range of additional functions such as mediation and/or quasi-judicial powers to PIAB’.
“Furthermore we urge the Central Bank to publish its National Claims Information Database information at insurer level in the first liability Insurance NCID Report due in the first half of 2021, as recommended by the CCPC.”
The Alliance also noted that the massive level of insurance cost increases experienced in many Irish commercial, voluntary & community sectors over the last five years is hidden in this report by the broad aggregated structure of the research carried out on behalf of the CCPC and the lack of any independent data noted by the Commission.
Eoin McCambridge, Managing Director of McCambridge’s of Galway and also an AIR Director also commented on the publication of the CCPC report, but added, “The time for additional reports is long gone. Policyholders have been closing down due to unsustainable insurance costs and this report will not in itself strike fear into the hearts of anyone making money on the back of policyholders struggling to pay their premiums. In the last four years we’ve had the Oireachtas Finance Committee Report on Insurance Costs, two Cost of Insurance Working Group reports and 11 CIWG Updates; the reports of the Personal Injuries Commission – and most recently the Action Plan from the Cabinet Sub-Group on Insurance Reform. Now we need action to make sure the CCPC market study does not become just another report.”
The Alliance 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” he said, “and for charities, community and voluntary groups, sports and cultural organisations and SMEs, insurance has been unsustainably expensive now for over five years. 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.”
Peter Boland added, that what is abundantly clear is that if insurance costs are to be brought under control, there are five key issues that must be actioned this year:
- General damages for minor injuries must be dramatically reduced to reflect international norms and norms already established by the Court of Appeal. AIR awaits the new personal injuries guidelines to be adopted and published by the Judicial Council, due by the 31st of July 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’re adopted by the Courts.
- Redefine and re-balance the “common duty of care” to require occupiers to take a duty of care that is reasonable, practical and proportionate: AIR awaits action from the Minister for Justice that will address the situation where many policyholders find themselves 100% liable for accidents regardless of the circumstances.
- 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.
- 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. AIR awaits urgent proposals for reform and enhancement of PIAB from Minister of State Robert Troy.
- Produce a schedule of forecast reductions for reforms: AIR needs commitments from the insurance industry that all the reforms being worked on will actually lead to substantial reductions in insurance costs. It awaits 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” concluded Peter Boland, “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.”