Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Questions (89, 105, 108, 117, 131, 350)

John Lahart

Question:

89. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Finance the responsibilities of his Department under the Action Plan for Insurance Reform. [17147/21]

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Emer Higgins

Question:

105. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on the progress of his Department in tackling the high cost of insurance and the competitiveness of the insurance market here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17150/21]

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Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Question:

108. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Finance the progress made to date with regard to the measures his Department is taking under the insurance reform plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17164/21]

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Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

117. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Finance the measures he is taking to address high insurance costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17144/21]

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John Lahart

Question:

131. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Finance the status of proposals to regulate claims harvesters in insurance. [17148/21]

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John Lahart

Question:

350. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Finance the responsibilities of his Department under the Action Plan for Insurance Reform. [1862/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 89, 105, 108, 117, 131 and 350 together.

Insurance reform is a priority for this Government, as is reflected in the whole-of-Government approach being adopted by Government's Action Plan for Insurance Reform. This Action Plan contains a range of deliverables across a number of Government policy areas, including the Department of Finance, which aim to improve the insurance environment in Ireland. The Plan is being overseen by the Cabinet Committee Sub-Group on Insurance Reform, which is chaired by an Tánaiste. The sub-Group met last week and took stock of the considerable progress that has been made in the first three months of the Plan.

In terms of the actions attributable to my Department, the Minister of State Sean Fleming TD has primary responsibility for delivery and the key achievements to date include:

- Establishing a new Office to Promote Competition in the Insurance Market;

- Working with the Central Bank of Ireland to expand the scope of the National Claims Information Database (NCID) to now gather data on employer and public liability insurance;

- Commencing the bulk of provisions under the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act 2019 (with the remainder to take effect from September 2021); and

- Publishing the Oireachtas Post-Enactment Scrutiny Report in relation to this Act.

In addition, another key responsibility for my Department is to request from industry and stakeholders an assessment of the expected impact of the reforms upon premium levels. In this regard, both Minister of State Fleming and I have had extensive engagement with these groups, and this will continue into the future. As the Deputies will be aware, Minister of State Fleming is to shortly meet with the main insurers, particularly in relation to the new Personal Injuries Guidelines.

Work is also continuing within my Department to progress other key actions due in the coming months. This includes preparing for the publication, by the Central Bank of Ireland, of the first National Claims Information Database (NCID) report on employer and public liability insurance, and the Central Bank’s final Review of Differential Pricing in the Motor and Home Insurance Market. My officials are also engaging with the officials in the Central Bank to explore options on establishing an insurance databank for new market entrants.

In addition, another key action for my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, is to set out proposals to regulate claims harvesters. Officials are currently examining this issue, including how other jurisdictions regulate these type of entities.

In conclusion, as Minister for Finance, I, along with Minister of State Fleming, am committed to working with my Government colleagues to achieve a more sustainable and competitive insurance market, and to continue to drive the Action Plan forward. It is my belief that this whole-of-Government approach provides the best opportunity to improve both the cost and availability of insurance for all consumers, businesses and community groups.