Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Questions (80)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

150 Mr. Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the recent survey published by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority showing a huge variation in the cost of motor insurance and that premiums can vary as much as 500% depending on the location at which a person lives and the insurance company in question; the action she intends to take arising from this survey; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3773/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise)

I very much welcome the survey by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority, which is to be carried out on a three monthly basis. Provision of this survey implements recommendation No. 7 of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board's recommendations, which are central to the Government's insurance reform programme. This survey will help engender price competition and educate the public on premium variances.

The Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority, IFSRA, which came into being on 1 May 2003 has a wide regulatory remit, covering consumer protection and prudential supervision of practically all of the financial services, including insurance and the services provided by it. The legislation setting up IFSRA provided for the establishment of a consumer director who has a clear role in consumer protection. There is a strong focus on transparency, competition and choice for the consumer.

While I no longer have responsibility for the regulation of insurance undertakings, I continue to have responsibility for the insurance reform programme that I launched on 25 October 2002. The reform programme is progressing well with 32 of the 67 recommendations implemented. The pricing and underwriting of insurance is a matter for individual insurance companies and EU law prevents Governments from intervening directly in the matter. I have made it clear, however, that I consider there to be an onus on the insurance industry to ensure that the reforms to be undertaken will have the effect of significantly reducing the cost of premia to consumers. Reductions have already occurred in the cost of premia and more reductions are expected.

Question No. 151 answered with QuestionNo. 120.