As the Deputy is aware, the National Claims Information Database was a key recommendation of the cost of insurance working group. It is intended to facilitate a more indepth analysis of annual trends in motor insurance claims. The second report, published earlier this month by the Central Bank, confirms that premiums for private motor insurance policies decreased by 9% from their recent peak in 2018 to the end of 2019. This is in line with the downward trend in the consumer price index of the Central Statistics Office, CSO, and reflects work done in recent years on insurance reform. I expect and hope that this structural trend has continued into 2020.
Regarding award levels, the report continues to highlight the fact that in the majority of personal injury claims there is not a significant difference between settlements reached using the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, PIAB, process and those pursued through litigation, with the latter subject to much higher legal costs and longer settlement times. I strongly believe the report shows that there is a clear benefit in getting more claimants to settle through the PIAB. This benefits the claimants themselves and also consumers generally, as increased costs for insurance companies are ultimately reflected in higher insurance premiums. This is an issue which the Cabinet insurance reform subgroup is prioritising. It will consider proposals on enhancing the role of the PIAB in due course.
The report also highlights the cyclical nature of the insurance market, in particular the growth in insurance premiums relative to the cost of claims and the growth in the profitability of motor insurance underwriting since 2015. This report should assist in dampening these extreme cycles of profit and loss in the motor insurance sector.
With regard to my next steps, I note that the report includes a significant amount of information and data, which my officials have worked on. This will be utilised by the Cabinet insurance reform subgroup as it carries out this work. That group is due to publish an action plan on further steps in the coming weeks.