Written Answers. - Motor Vehicle Insurance.

Róisín Shortall


79 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she is taking to address the difficulties faced by young drivers in securing insurance cover for motor vehicles; if her attention has been drawn to the recent case where a 20 year old driver in the Dublin area was charged more than £4,000 per year for a third party, fire and theft policy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7121/01]

I am aware of a number of cases involving young people who have been charged car insurance premiums in the region of the amount mentioned.

The high cost of motor insurance in Ireland is directly attributable to the cost and frequency of claims incurred by insurance companies in settlement of claims following road accidents. This factor is especially relevant to young drivers, whose adverse claims experience contributes to their consideration by motor insurance companies as a high risk category. The National Roads Authority Road Accident Facts Report for 1999, showed that 40% of drivers killed or seriously injured, on Irish roads, were between the ages of 18 and 34.

EU law prevents me from intervening directly with the insurance companies in the matter of premium levels or in respect of the risks that they are prepared to underwrite.

It is abundantly clear therefore that the primary focus of initiatives aimed at reducing the cost of insurance for motorists, including young drivers, must be on reducing the frequency of accidents and the subsequent claims.

The work of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board is aimed at providing me with information and advice on trends in motor insurance costs and with policy recommendations for addressing those costs. The issue of the high cost of insurance for young drivers is especially being examined by the board.

Further measures may be expected as a result of the work of the special working group set up to consider the establishment of a personal injuries tribunal. On the basis of that group's second report, proposals are now being brought to Government with the objective of putting arrangements in place to reduce the costs of delivering personal injury compensation by streamlining the claims process. It is also intended to publish the group's report at that stage.