Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (207)

Niamh Smyth


207. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Finance the status of his plans to implement reforms in view of the increasing cost of car insurance premiums; the latest discussions his Department has had on the issue; the persons or bodies with which the discussions took place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6706/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Government’s Action Plan for Insurance Reform contains a range of deliverables, including legislation where required, in a number of Government Department policy areas. Work is already underway in relation to certain areas, including:

- increasing market transparency through the National Claims Information Database (NCID), including for employer and public liability insurance;

- reviewing the duty of care legislation;

- providing for the Judicial Council’s accelerated adoption by 31 July 2021 of new personal injuries guidelines to replace the Book of Quantum;

- consideration by the Department of Justice of the Law Reform Commission’s recent Report on Capping Damages in Personal Injuries Actions;

- looking at how to further enhance the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board; and,

- making proposals on increasing competition in the Irish insurance market.

In addition to this work, there has been recent intensive engagement with key stakeholders by Minister of State Fleming, including meetings with the major insurers, the Alliance for Insurance Reform and industry representatives Insurance Ireland.

With regard to the specific issue of the cost of motor insurance premiums, I would draw the Deputy’s attention to data from the Central Bank’s NCID Private Motor Insurance Report, published in November. This shows the earned premium for private motor insurance decreased by 9 per cent to the end of 2019 from its mid-2018 peak. I would reasonably expect that the next report – covering 2020 – will show further reductions. Separately, the most recent data from the Central Statistics Office’s (CSO) Consumer Price Index indicates that motor premiums have reduced by just over 30 per cent from their July 2016 peak. While for methodological reasons, these datasets are not directly comparable, both have indicated the same downward trend for some time. This in part reflects the positive work done by the Cost of Insurance Working Group, and it is the Government’s intention to build on this success via the new Action Plan.

In conclusion, seeking to secure a more sustainable and competitive market through deepening and widening the supply of insurance in Ireland remains a priority issue for this Government. Both I and Minister of State Fleming will continue to play a lead role in this policy area.