As the Deputy is aware, the Cost of Insurance Working Group was established in July 2016 and undertook an examination of the factors contributing to the increasing cost of insurance in order to identify what short, medium and long-term measures could be introduced to help reduce the cost of insurance for consumers and businesses.
The initial focus of the Working Group was the issue of rising motor insurance premiums and the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance was published in January 2017. The Report makes 33 recommendations with 71 associated actions to be carried out in agreed timeframes, which are set out in an Action Plan.
Work is ongoing on the implementation of the recommendations by the relevant Government Departments and Agencies and there is a commitment within the Report that the Working Group will prepare quarterly updates on its progress. The eighth such update was published at the start of March 2019 and shows that 29 of the 33 recommendations have either been completed, are categorised as “ongoing” and in respect of which work is continuing, or have been concluded in so far as the direct involvement of the Working Group is concerned.
It is envisaged that the implementation of all the recommendations cumulatively, with the appropriate levels of commitment and cooperation from all relevant stakeholders, should achieve the objectives of delivering fairer premiums for consumers and a more stable and competitive insurance market.
In this regard, it has to be acknowledged that the CSO CPI statistics indicate that pricing in the private motor insurance market has stabilised over the last year or two and I welcome the direction of travel which this index has displayed since it peaked in July 2016. However, it is accepted that premiums may still be at a high level for many people.
Finally, I understand from my officials that it is difficult to obtain reliable data to accurately compare the cost of motor insurance here to that in other EU countries. In any event, such international comparisons on the basis of price alone would not take into account factors such as the various regulatory environments and liability systems in place in different jurisdictions. For example, in certain EU countries, it is mandatory only for the vehicle to be insured meaning direct comparisons are not useful or instructive.