Written Answers. - Motor Insurance.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

64 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the initiative, if any, she has taken to introduce motor insurance premia discounts for young drivers who are non-drinkers, have obtained certification in advanced driving skills or have other features which demonstrate their lower risk status; if any insurance companies have agreed to adopt reduced loadings of this nature; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10224/00]

EU law prevents me from intervening directly with the insurance companies in the matter of premium levels or in respect of what risks they are prepared to underwrite. The difficulties being experienced by young people in securing motor insurance and, indeed, the high cost of compulsory insurance cover for motorists, in particular young drivers, is, I understand, directly attributable to adverse claims experience of young, especially male, drivers as a risk category. The 1996 Deloitte & Touche report on an economic evaluation of insurance costs found that the average cost of an insurance claim for 17 to 24 year old drivers is twice that for the 36 to 40 age group and that motorists in the 17 to 24 age group are responsible for over three and a half times the total average claims costs incurred for motorists in the 36 to 40 age group.

My re-establishment of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board was a major initiative aimed at providing us with information and advice on trends in motor insurance costs and with policy recommendations for addressing those costs. The board, whose expanded membership includes a member representing young drivers' interests, has undertaken an ambitious programme of work and research, particularly in relation to the basis of charges to young drivers.
The Irish Insurance Federation, in conjunction with the driving instructors register has introduced a scheme of insurance premium discounts for the young driver. Learner drivers who undertake 25 hours of driving instruction from a registered DIR tutor receive a certificate which will qualify them for a first grade on the no claims bonus ladder with motor insurers which are members of the Irish Insurance Federation. After five years of accident free driving, it is estimated that the young driver can save over £1,000 in his/her first five years of driving.
The primary focus of initiatives aimed at reducing the cost of motor insurance for young drivers must be on reducing the frequency of accidents and the associated cost of claims. A number of initiatives to improve standards of driving and appreciation of road safety are in place. The National Safety Council, in co-operation with the Garda, continue to promote anti-speeding and anti-drink driving media campaigns, including road safety educational programmes for secondary school students.