90% of insurance reform actions done or ongoing – Govt
The Government will outline progress made on insurance reform later today, when it publishes its third Insurance Reform Implementation Report.
It states that around 90% of actions in its Action Plan for Insurance Reform have been completed or are ongoing.
Sinn Féin however has criticised the plan, saying that premiums for businesses and voluntary organisations remain too high.
The party has called on the Government to support the party’s bill, the Judicial Council (Amendment) Bill, which it says would force insurers to pass on savings from reduced awards to customers.
Getting to grips with high insurance costs and pay-outs is a stated aim in the Programme for Government. The insurance reform plan was launched by the coalition almost two years ago.
Among the 90% of actions achieved or ongoing are the establishment of the Office to Promote Competition in the Insurance Market, the Insurance Fraud Coordination Office and new personal injuries guidelines.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar has said that the success of the plan will be measured by the reduction in premiums and improved competition.
“While we have seen some evidence of improvement of availability of insurance, we have only seen premiums decrease for motorists to date. It is also expected there will be a lag time between implementing the reforms and people seeing the benefits”, he said.
Work on completing the plan will continue, overseen by a Cabinet committee sub-group.
Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty said that while premiums have fallen somewhat for motor insurance, they have not fallen for businesses and for voluntary organisations.
“Despite the fact that awards are now substantially down these savings are being pocketed by the insurance industry and are not passed on to consumers.
“The Government needs to end its opposition to the Sinn Féin Bill before the Oireachtas that will put pressure on insurers to pass on, euro for euro, the savings from reduced awards to policy holders”, he said.
The Director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform said that while insurance reforms are having an impact on the motor insurance side, they are not having the same effect on the liability side.
The alliance represents civic and business organisations looking for lower insurance costs and reform.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Peter Boland said they are seeing an increase in premiums.
“For all the hard work that the Government has done, all of the gains that have been made are being pocketed by insurers and in fact what we are seeing among our members is premiums increasing.”
Mr Boland said liability insurance is increasing and it “is putting smaller businesses out of business”.
“This is the kind of insurance that is essential for SME’s for community and voluntary groups, sports and cultural organisations and charities. They cannot really operate without it.
“This has been a major issue now for over six years, it is putting small businesses out of business and it is stopping charities and voluntary groups from doing what they were set up to do,” he said.
Mr Boland said that since the biggest reform so far, which was the implementation of the judicial guidelines in April of last year, “those sorts of premiums are increasing by an average of 16% on renewal”.
He added: “Our view is that insurers are taking Government for a ride on this because they have said all along that it is the cost of claims that drives the cost of premiums and now that’s addressed and is materially delivering results, they are saying that it’s down to duty of care, or fraud or reform of PIAB.”