asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy if he is aware of excess insurance loading in respect of disabled persons who have passed their driving test and who drive specially adapted cars and that companies are charging up to 50 per cent extra loading in such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Disabled Persons' Car Insurance.
The imposition of motor insurance loadings in respect of disabled drivers reflects the higher level of risk for this category of driver. The extent of the loading is determined by the additional risk involved in each particular case.
In the interest of fairness to other road users, I am satisfied that insurers must be allowed some flexibility to apply loadings of this kind. However, I have been in contact on several occasions with the insurers in this matter and they have undertaken to examine the merits of each case as sympathetically as possible.
Would the Minister tell the House how this higher level of risk is computed? The driving test undergone by the disabled person is precisely the same as that for any normal driver. The only difference is that the car has been specially modified, and there is no argument for saying there is a higher level of risk.
Notwithstanding the fact that a disabled driver has passed the driving test and drives specially adapted vehicles, motor insurers have always held that there is a higher element of risk than in the case of non-disabled drivers. This has been accepted over the years by the Department as reasonable, given the possibility that disabled drivers might react slowly to driving hazards. It is considered that the amount of the loading should be related to the degree of risk.
Apart from the tradition which has obtained, is there any scientific evidence or logical reason which shows that someone who has passed the driving test under normal conditions and whose car has been modified to cope with a particular disability should pay more?
The special case of disabled drivers and the loadings to which they are subject has been referred to the Motor Premiums Advisory Committee following certain representations. The Deputy put down a written question on this matter. The committee are engaged in a long-term statistical exercise to establish the appropriateness of loadings, for example, those in regard to age of driver and vehicle size. They have not yet come up with any specific answers in regard to disabled drivers, and I will ask them to look at the matter again.
Is there a possibility of a change?
There is a possibility, but I would not like to hold out any hope for the immediate future.
If there is not to be a change, will the Minister be good enough to publish simultaneously with the report the logic on which the 50 per cent loading is based?
I did not say there would not be a change. This is a long term statistical operation and I do not want to hold out any hope for the immediate future.
The remaining questions will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.