No reduction in insurance premiums despite government reforms

As the Government signals the completion of its programme to reform insurance in Ireland, new research shows that the vast majority of Irish businesses and voluntary organisations have not seen any reduction in insurance premiums despite massive reforms.

“If this was a school report for the Government, it would be a disappointing one” - AIR.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has said that despite government reforms and numerous reports stating that change has been delivered, it has not had the desired effect of reducing premiums or offering greater access to affordable cover.

The government has launched the fourth implementation report of the Action Plan for Insurance Reform. A whole of government approach – with the exceptions of the insurers and members of the legal profession – has been taken to addressing access to affordable insurance cover in recent years. Most notably reforms included the changes to the duty of care in July 2023, the introduction of the Judicial Guidelines in 2021 and the creation of a Garda Insurance Fraud Office. Many reforms have also been made to the Injury Resolution Board (formerly PIAB) to assist it in addressing a greater volume of uncontested personal injury claims.

The report states that reform of the insurance sector “has now largely been delivered.” The Alliance for Insurance Reform  board member and owner of Kidspace play centres in Rathfarnham and Rathcoole, Tracy Sheridan said, “The reforms they introduced have been very welcome. However, as a recent survey conducted by the Alliance shows, the benefits of these reforms are just not being shared with small and medium businesses, voluntary and community groups, sports and cultural organisations and charities right across the country. If the goal of the insurance reform agenda is reduced premiums and greater access to affordable cover, then it has yet to meaningfully deliver.”

“It is infuriating after all the work that went into reforming insurance, the benefits of these reforms are not being passed on. The job of government is not finished, and it is imperative they stay the course until businesses, sports clubs, community groups and others realise some of the gains. The benefits of the reforms weren’t intended solely for insurers after all,” she said.

The Alliance survey carried out in February 2024 received responses from 690 organisations across a range of sectors. Its main findings were:

  • 87% have had either no reduction or experienced a premium increase in the last 2 years. This is despite claims volumes having dropped 41% since 2019, the Judicial Guidelines being in place for three years (reducing the level of awards) and the duty of care being reformed since last summer.
  • 25% of respondents have one or no underwriters willing to provide cover.
  • When asked how important insurance was as an issue to their organisations, 87% gave it the highest grade available “very important”.
  • When asked whether they had materially benefited from the government’s insurance reform agenda, 91% said no.
  • 72% of the organisations that responded to the survey have had no claims in the past five years.
  • 63% experienced increased excesses, added exclusions or both in the past five years.

Minister Carroll MacNeill  recently said that the issue of legal fees in the context of personal injury cases “continues to be a challenge.” Legal fees account for one third of the cost of personal injury cases – a cost that goes directly onto the premiums people and businesses pay – so it is vital that this is urgently addressed, said Sheridan. “The status quo is unaffordable and unsustainable.”

The Alliance for Insurance Reform brings together 46 civic and business organisations from across Ireland to highlight the negative impact of persistently high premiums and calling for real reforms that will  reduce liability to affordable levels.



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