Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Questions (76)

Jan O'Sullivan


76. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the steps he is taking to ensure more transparency on the part of insurance companies on premiums charged, cases contested or uncontested and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40870/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Introducing greater transparency into the insurance sector is a priority of the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) and much work has been done on this front to date.

For example, on 1st November the Central Bank introduced new rules in relation to transparency in motor insurance costs. The new rules require insurers to provide policyholders with details of the prior year’s premium paid, as well as quotations for each policy option available to them (such as comprehensive, third party fire and theft and third party only). In addition, the renewal notification period has been extended from 15 to 20 working days for motor, health, property and general liability insurance to allow policyholders more time to seek comparison quotes The background to these new rules is a recommendation from the Cost of Insurance Working Group Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance and the changes have been made through amendments to the Non-Life Insurance (Provision of Information) (Renewal of Policy of Insurance) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No.74). I believe that each of these measures should assist consumers in making decisions at renewal time, including encouraging them to shop around and, if favourable to them, switch insurance provider.

In addition, the Government is actively supporting a Private Members Bill - Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill, which is scheduled at Report Stage in the Dail this week and should progress through the Oireachtas by the end of the year. The purpose of the Bill is to reform and modernise the law of consumer insurance contracts and to level the playing field between consumers and insurers. This Bill has various provisions aimed at increasing transparency in premiums charged and the management of claims. A notable change, which is based on a recommendation of the Cost of Insurance Working Group, will be the requirements for insurers to inform policy holders, including small businesses, in circumstances where a claim has been made against them by a third party. Such communications have not always occurred and the implementation of this provision will therefore be a significant step forward in improving transparency around the claims process.

Furthermore, with the publication shortly of the first report of the National Claims Information Database on private motor insurance, there should be much greater transparency around the settlement of claims process and how this occurs. It is hoped that this information together with a recalibrated level of awards to be developed by the Judiciary as a result of the enactment of the Judicial Council Act 2019 should lead to a greater consistency of award levels, thus enhancing the role of Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) and reducing litigation levels.