24 March 2021 Today the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar T.D. chaired a meeting of the cabinet committee sub-group on insurance reform.
Reflecting the priority reforming the insurance sector is for the Government, the cabinet committee sub-group is attended by the Ministers for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Justice, Children and Ministers of State at the Departments of Finance and Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
The meeting considered the progress made in the first three months of the Government’s Action Plan for Insurance Reform.
Actions delivered in first three months include:
- New personal injuries guidelines adopted & published
- New office to promote competition established
- Public consultation on enhancing role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) commenced
- New regulations on solicitors advertising introduced
Priorities for the next three months include: reform of the duty of care, strengthening the laws on perjury, enhancing the enforcement powers of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), expanding the National Claims Information Database and reforming PIAB and responding to the Central Bank report on dual-pricing.
The meeting was also updated on recent engagement with stakeholders such as the Alliance for Insurance Reform and Insurance Ireland, which is helping to inform the Government’s reform agenda.
Following the meeting the Tánaiste said:
“This Government is committed to bringing down the cost and increasing the availability of insurance for motorists, homeowners, businesses and voluntary groups alike. There is no silver bullet, no simple solution to do this, it will require action and sustained action right across Government. Today the cabinet committee sub-group met to consider the progress we have made in the first three months of the Plan and to agree priorities for the next period.
“The Action Plan for Insurance Reform is one of the most important programmes that this Government will undertake. Implementation of the Plan is on track. While this progress is welcome, we are committed to doing more to reduce insurance costs. Ministers reported today on an ambitious programme of legislative reform over the next quarter that will see significant changes made to reform the duty of care, strengthening the laws on perjury, strengthening the enforcement powers of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and reforming PIAB. We will also see in the coming months the expansion of the National Claims Information Database and the Central Bank of Ireland’s final report on differential pricing. As chair of the sub-group, I will continue to meet regularly with Ministers to drive forward implementation of our plan and deliver meaningful reform of this sector.”
Following the meeting, the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D. said:
“Today’s meeting was very productive. Progress continues to be made across many areas, and the imminent introduction of the Personal Injuries Guidelines is a key milestone. Along with other aspects of the Government’s reform agenda, this should help improve both the cost and availability of insurance. I look forward to working with my colleagues across Government, to continue to drive other elements of the Action Plan. This will help achieve a more sustainable and competitive insurance market to the benefit of all consumers, businesses and community groups”.
The legislative amendments to give effect to the Personal Injury guidelines are progressing through the Oireachtas and will be commenced shortly thereafter.
Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee T.D., said,
“The overriding concern is to address with urgency the economic impacts on businesses and consumers of high insurance costs, while ensuring fair compensation when someone is injured. The approach agreed by Government takes into account both the urgency in tackling high insurance costs and fairness for those who have suffered injury through no fault of their own, as well as those who are required to defend a claim. I believe we have struck the correct balance.
“The recently adopted Personal Injury Guidelines mark an important step which I hope will have a lasting impact on the award of damages in personal injuries cases. It is my hope that the new Guidelines will bring consistency, reduce litigation and reduce awards, which are a major driver of insurance costs.
“The recent introduction of Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 (Advertising) Regulations 2020 now prohibits advertising by legal professionals that would solicit, encourage or offer inducements to make claims for personal injuries. Advertisements are prohibited from inappropriate locations including GP surgeries, hospitals and funeral homes, along with references to personal injuries and damages in excess of the Personal Injury Guidelines.”
The Minister of State with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance, Sean Fleming T.D., said:
“I am pleased to note that the price of motor insurance has fallen by around 6% since last year. I am meeting the Chief Executives of the main insurance companies to ensure all savings from the new personal injury guidelines will be passed onto the customers. I would also note that the work programme for the Office to Promote Competition has now been agreed. Encouraging greater competition in the insurance market is a key element of the insurance reform agenda. As Chair of the Office, I look forward to continuing this work and having further engagement with relevant stakeholders. My main objective is to achieve a more competitive market to the benefit of all groups in society and the economy”.
Minister of State with responsibility for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy T.D. added
“I know from speaking to businesses and consumers the importance of insurance cover being available and at a reasonable and fair price. This week, as part of Government’s plan to reform the insurance sector, I launched a public consultation on measures to reform and enhance the role of the PIAB. I believe these proposals will deliver real reform to reduce the cost of litigation and ultimately, insurance premiums. I encourage all interested parties to submit a response. I am also progressing legislation that will strengthen competition law in Ireland. The legislation will break new ground in this area, giving competition authorities, such as the CCPC, teeth by providing for administrative sanctions and other tools in dealing with anti-competitive practices.”