The increase in premium costs of motor insurance for all drivers in recent years is certainly cause for concern. It is clear that this, particularly in the couple of years up to 2016, has also affected those working within the Small Public Service Vehicle (SPSV) industry. However, the most recent Consumer Price Index showed that the average cost of motor insurance actually fell by more than 24% between its peak in July 2016 and April 2019.
Insurance companies are private companies. Neither the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport nor the Central Bank of Ireland has the power to direct insurance companies on the pricing of insurance products. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. The provision of insurance cover and the price at which it is offered are commercial matters for insurance companies and are based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept and adequate provisioning to meet those risks. These are considered by insurance companies on a case by case basis.
The Department of Finance Working Group’s Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance was published in January 2017 and quarterly updates have been published since then to date. Based on recommendations from this report, the Advisory Committee on SPSVs met with Insurance Ireland on 22 May 2017 to discuss cost of insurance issues relating to the taxi industry and a report on the same was issued to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport on 21 June 2017. This report was forwarded to the aforementioned Working Group, which is already pursuing many of the recommendations arising from the meeting, including the need for further engagement to take place between the Advisory Committee on SPSVs and Insurance Ireland. I requested that a further meeting take place but to date this has not occurred.
It is my hope that this cooperation and engagement will deliver better rates for all motorists, including taxi drivers.