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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 2°C

Insurance reform group calls for action as survey finds premiums increase by 16%

Changes introduced last year have seen personal injuries assessments fall by around 40 percent.

A SURVEY OF insurance premium renewals confirms that liability premiums continue to increase by 16%. 

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has called on the government to do more to tackle the premiums, one year on from the implementation of the Judicial Guidelines for personal injury awards. 

While the group noted that the guidelines are having an impact, as assessments by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board have tumbled by about 40 percent, it said the reforms are “clearly not having an impact” on the liability premiums paid by businesses, voluntary and community groups and charities.

It surveyed those 954 of those organisations and found that: 

  • 42% of organisations say that insurance premiums are threatening their future 
  • 90% say Government is not doing enough to address the issue of insurance costs. 

“Insurers are simply not passing on the benefits of recent reforms to liability insurance policyholders,” Peter Boland, director of the Alliance said.

“Equally, other reforms that would impact on liability premiums are not happening fast enough.”  

He said personal injury damages are by far the biggest component of the cost of insurance and added that the Judicial Guidelines implemented last year should have had a greater impact as they introduced significant reductions in the level of damages for minor injuries.

Another member of the group, Eoin McCambridge, who runs restaurant McCambridge’s of Galway, said the government must “restore policyholder faith in the process” by doing “everything in their power” to make sure insurers pass on the benefits of reforms. 

“They must move quicker on getting additional competition into the market. They must speed up promised reforms,” he said.

“Ultimately they must get liability insurance premiums down to affordable levels with reforms that keep them that way.”  

However, the Alliance said the “acceptance rate of these assessments” has reduced from 50 percent to 37 percent as they claimed more claimants moved to litigation.

“So the attitude of insurers who settle the vast majority of litigated liability claims before they get to court, and the approach of the judiciary once such claims finally get to court, will be extremely influential on the success or otherwise of the Guidelines.”

Tracy Sheridan, owner of Kidspace play centres in Rathfarnham and Rathcoole and a director of the Alliance said, “Of all the major challenges facing Ireland right now, insurance is the one that Government can fix quickest.

“But reforms are not moving fast enough, and policyholders cannot wait much longer for them to be put in place. Government has a golden opportunity to sort out the cost of insurance now and forever, but only if they get reforms done now, before the opportunity is lost.”  

The Alliance said the judicial guidelines have been “hit by multiple constitutional challenges” judgement is awaited from the High Court on a significant challenge this summer.  

The Alliance further called for a re-balancing of duty of care obligations, which it claimed places an “unfair, absolute responsibility on occupiers while exempting claimants of any responsibility for their own safety”.

It said a plan for this was committed to in the government’s Insurance Reform Action Plan in December 2020, but proposals have still not been submitted since despite a deadline of June 2021.  was

Legislation to reform the Personal Injuries Assessment Board(PIAB) is moving slowly through pre-legislative scrutiny, the Alliance said. 

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