I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 35 together.
The insurance reform programme that I announced on 25 October 2002 comprises a comprehensive set of inter-related measures designed to improve the functioning of the Irish insurance market. I chair a ministerial committee established to drive the co-ordinated implementation of this reform programme across the relevant Government Departments and other bodies concerned. Substantial progress is being made on a range of measures that will radically overhaul the functioning of the insurance market and help tackle the high cost of insurance.
One of the key measures in the reform programme is the implementation of the recommendations in the motor insurance advisory board action plan within a target timeframe. To date, 32 of the recommendations have been fully implemented, four partially implemented and work is in progress on the implementation of the other recommendations. Precise information on each of the recommendations is shown in the table.
Another key measure is the establishment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. As the Deputy will be aware, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 was signed by the President on 28 December 2003. The provisions of this Act will be commenced in the near future. A CEO designate has been appointed and commenced duty on 2 February 2004. The proposed structure and staffing levels of the new body are finalised and a recruitment campaign commenced in February. The board will be operational when the necessary staff and IT systems are in place, which is expected to be in the second quarter of this year. The PIAB interim board has made significant progress in this regard.
In addition, my Department and the Competition Authority are undertaking a joint study into the insurance market. The study will identify and analyse barriers to entry and limitations on rivalry in the insurance marketplace. It aims to make recommendations to ensure that competition works well for consumers in the Irish market. It will also make recommendations for changes in the case of problems identified at EU level. A preliminary report and consultation document on competition issues in the non-life insurance market was published in February. Following a two month consultation process, which will end on 18 April 2004, a final report will be published containing recommendations resulting from the findings.
Significant progress has been made by the Department of Transport on the implementation of the road safety strategy. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform published the Civil Liability and Courts Bill on 11 February. This Bill contains measures to streamline the law on personal injury claims including measures to deal with fraudulent and exaggerated claims.
Indications to date are that the reform programme is having its desired effect. The CSO publishes monthly indices of costs for a number of classes of insurance. These statistics show that there was a reduction of 11.8 index points,11.1%, in motor car insurance between the months of January 2003 and January 2004. Further, the CSO noted a significant contribution from insurance to the recent reduction in inflation. As implementation of the reform programme continues, I expect further reductions to occur in all forms of insurance. I am also confident that the measures the Government is putting in place to reform the Irish insurance market will attract new players into the market and lead to further downward pressure on premia.