Cost of insurance claims “exorbitant”

Judges in this country seem to dole out awards like lottery money claimed Michael Farrell from Summerfield House in Youghal in introducing the motion that, ‘The VFI should campaign to have the role of the Personal Injuries Board strengthened and to create a situation where the Courts are a place of last rather than first resort’.

This was exacerbated all the more by the maximum payout in the Circuit Court recently being raised from €38,000 to €60,000.

Michael Farrell pointed out that lots of insurance companies have simply got out of the licensed trade business as too much was being handed out in compensation payments.

2014 had seen a 34% increase in handouts, he said, with the average payment for whiplash here being €14,400. In the UK the corresponding award was €4,500 and in Spain and Italy it was €3,000.

He sought the support of conference in seeking that the government get the judiciary to roll back awards so that they were more in line with the rest of Europe.

He cited the recent case of a woman spending a number of hours in a bar and subsequently slipping while wearing high heels, dislocating her thumb. She got €94,000.

“People are clearly better off going through the courts with correspondingly huge costs on our business,” he explained, “Surely there must be some responsibility attached to the public for their own actions. At present they expect us to pick up the tab.”

He also pointed out that following one claim a publican found his premium going up by 800% recently.

“My own went up by €2,500 last year despite having ‘no claims’.

“We also need to reduce the costs of legal fees accompanying these claims which are spiraling out of control,” he concluded.

The judiciary are still awaiting an updated Book of Quantum due to be signed off this Summer, but there’s no obligation on them to make use of it in quantifying their award decisions.


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