The cost of insurance working group was established in July 2016 as a result primarily of the rising cost of premiums in the motor insurance market. It was clear from the working group's extensive consultations that there was immense frustration and anger with the scale of price increases in recent years and the lack of understanding as to why that was happening. A similar view was expressed in the Oireachtas joint committee report. Consequently, transparency has been one of the key themes of both the motor and employer and public liability reports.
In this context an important step forward is the approval last week by the Government to publish the Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Bill 2018. This Bill, when enacted, will enable the Central Bank to publish an annual report using data gathered from the insurance industry to increase transparency on the relationship between insurance premiums and related costs, identifying the factors that drive movements in the price of insurance in the State, the number of claims, as well as providing statistical analyses of the costs associated with settling claims, and importantly understanding the settlement channels used.
It is important to consider the Government's progress in addressing the problems in the insurance market in the context of the views expressed by both the Oireachtas joint committee and cost of insurance working group reports that there is no single policy or a legislative silver bullet to immediately stem or reverse premium levels. Therefore, when seen in this context, the step-by-step implementation of the bulk of the motor insurance report recommendations on schedule has been an important factor in creating the environment within which the average price of motor insurance premiums have been consistently falling since mid-2016, with the most recent CSO data for May 2018 indicating that private motor insurance premiums have decreased by 19% since peaking in July 2016.
However, I am conscious that there is still much work to be done and the cost of insurance working group project must continue to be a priority for Government and the relevant Departments must continue prioritising the implementation of the recommendations of the reports on the cost of motor insurance and employer and public liability insurance, and of the Personal Injuries Commission under Mr. Justice Nicholas Kearns.