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Varadkar accused of having a 'terrible air of detachment' for saying health and car insurance premiums are levelling off

‘The cure for whiplash is compensation payment in Ireland,’ said the Taoiseach.

Image: Leah Farrell

COMMENTS MADE BY the Taoiseach in relation to the cost of insurance premiums have been criticised by Micheál Martin for having a “terrible air of detachment”. 

Leo Varadkar criticised those involved in insurance fraud, but added that health and car insurance premiums have “levelled off”. 

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin took aim at the insurance industry during Leaders’ Questions stating that it is “the culture of claim at any cost”.

He added that the cost of insurance is having a huge impact on people’s lives, stating that elderly people are clinging on to their health insurance. He pointed out that car insurance costs have increased since 2014.

“A range of groups across the country feel that their enterprises are endangered by the dramatically escalating costs and premiums of insurances, and that many businesses, in particular, are under significant threat,” he said.

“It’s fair to say that the government’s response to date has been one of considerable inertia, delay after delay and a lack of urgency in grappling with the essentials of this crisis.”

However, the Taoiseach defended the government stating that progress was being made: 

“We have made good progress in recent years on the broader area of insurance.  We have seen motor insurance fall from its peak in 2016 by maybe 20% or 30%.

“Health insurance, which had been rising rapidly every year, has now levelled off for the last few years, and the same goes for home insurance.  When it comes to public liability, we have much work yet to do.”

He added that compensation claims were having an adverse impact:

We all know that about 90% of people, once they receive payment, no longer need to attend treatment for their whiplash, it seems that the cure for whiplash is compensation payment in Ireland and not any medical treatment

The Taoiseach agreed that insurance premiums and payouts are a “huge concern” for businesses and customers.

He noted progress is being made, adding that amendments to legislation being brought by Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty on making insurance premiums more transparent got Cabinet approval this morning, 

He added that the most important item that will bring down costs is the Judicial Council, which will review the quantum of awards paid to people who suffer injuries in Ireland.

The Taosieach again ruled out the idea of a special insurance fraud bureau in the gardaí.

“The Garda Commissioner has decided in his wisdom and his position, and I agree with this, that rather than having a dedicated National Bureau just dealing with insurance fraud, that this is best done at divisional and local level, and through national economic rights bureau.

“So, it is being done, it’s just being done in the way that the Garda Commissioner thinks is best.”

With additional reporting by Press Association

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