I welcome the proactive role that the Alliance for Insurance Reform is taking in regard to the issue of the cost of insurance, particularly for businesses. I can assure the Deputy that my Department and I are both very conscious of the impact that the volatility in insurance prices in the last few years has had on consumers and businesses and am well aware of the issues raised by the Alliance. The Alliance has featured prominently in the media and put its viewpoints across at Joint Oireachtas Committee appearances, while its members have submitted a large number of representations to the Department, both directly and through TDs and Senators. Moreover, the Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance, Mr. Michael D’Arcy T.D., has formally met with the Alliance, and relevant issues were discussed to some level of detail.
With regard to the ’10 asks’ of the Alliance in particular, most of the issues which have been raised by it were considered in detail by the Cost of Insurance Working Group in the course of its work to produce its two reports namely, the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance and the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance. A number of these issues are in the process of being implemented such as amending section 8 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 and linking sections 25 and 26 so that exaggerated and misleading claims are automatically referred to the Gardaí for investigation. There are other recommendations however such as changing the approach to calculating the Book of Quantum where we have clearly indicated to the Alliance that there are constitutional issues which need to be first considered thus explaining why we have referred the matter to the Law Reform Commission for examination.
I have also pointed out to the Alliance that reinstating the “Blue Book” is a matter for the Central Bank of Ireland and as Minister, this is not an issue I have any influence over. Notwithstanding this, my Department remains open to maintaining constructive engagement with the Alliance on its key ‘asks’.
Finally, it is important that the Cost of Insurance Working Group continues to focus on implementing the recommendations of the two Reports so we can see what impact the completion of all the actions have on the cost of insurance before looking to introduce more changes. As I have stated previously, I believe that the cumulative effects of the implementation of all the recommendations should include increased stability in the pricing of insurance for consumers and businesses and improved availability of insurance generally.