The insurance reform programme that I announced on 25 October 2002 comprises a comprehensive set of inter-related measures designed to improve the functioning of the insurance market. I chair a ministerial committee established to drive the co-ordinated implementation of this reform programme across the relevant Departments and other bodies concerned. Substantial progress is being made on a range of measures that will radically overhaul the functioning of the insurance market and help tackle the high cost of insurance.
One of the key measures in the reform programme is the implementation of the recommendations in the Motor Insurance Advisory Board action plan within a target timeframe. To date, 32 of the recommendations have been fully implemented, three have been partially implemented and work is in progresson the implementation of the other recommendations. I have precise information on each of the recommendations which I will make available to the Deputy.
Another key measure is the establishment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. As the Deputy will be aware, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 was signed by the President on 28 December 2003. The provisions of this will be commenced soon. A chief executive officer has been appointed and commenced duty on 2 February 2004. The proposed structure and staffing levels of the new body are being finalised in conjunction with the new chief executive officer, and it is expected that a recruitment campaign will commence later this month. The board will become operational when the necessary staff and information technology systems are in place, which I expect will be within the next two months or so. The PIAB interim board has made enormous progress in this regard.
In addition, my Department and the Competition Authority are undertaking a joint study into the insurance market. A significant amount of the work was completed in 2003 and a report will be produced shortly.
Indications are that the reform programme is having its desired effect. The Central Statistics Office publishes monthly indices of costs for a number of classes of insurance. These statistics show that there was a reduction of 11.7 index points — 11% — in motor insurance between December 2002 and December 2003. Further, the CSO noted a significant contribution from insurance to the recent reduction in inflation. As implementation of the reform programme continues, I expect further significant reductions to occur in all forms of insurance. I am also confident that the measures the Government is putting in place to reform the insurance market will attract new players into the market and lead to further downward pressure on premia.