Thursday, 11 April 2019

Ceisteanna (50)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

50. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce legislation to protect consumers in dealing with insurance companies specifically in cases in which the companies are refusing businesses insurance cover without adequate explanation or refusing to explain the reason for refusals especially in situations in which the business has been a customer for many years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16990/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In replying to this question, I am making the assumption that the Deputy is seeking the introduction of a Declined Cases type agreement similar to that found for the motor sector.  However, it is important to point out that unlike third party motor insurance, employer and public liability insurance is not a compulsory requirement in Ireland, and therefore there is no legal requirement to have such cover in place unlike motor insurance which is necessary in order to drive a motor vehicle. 

In addition, neither I, as Minister for Finance, nor the Central Bank of Ireland can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products. These matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on the risks they are willing to accept. As such a Declined Cases agreement proposal is likely to have little effect, as insurers would simply price at what they consider the appropriate level for a particular risk.  Consequently, if there was an area where there was a significant level of claims, the price charged would likely reflect this and in many cases might be prohibitive cost wise for such businesses.  Another difficulty with such a proposal is that insurers generally operate in niche areas of the business market based on their risk appetite and their understanding of these areas.  Therefore, forcing insurers to take on risks outside of their expertise may result in them leaving the market and it may also discourage new entrants to the Irish market.  On this basis, I believe such a proposal could be counterproductive over the longer term and not in the best interest of the customer.

Notwithstanding this, the Government is acutely aware of the difficulties that the cost and availability of liability insurance is having on businesses across the country and every effort is being made to implement the recommendations of the second Personal Injuries Commission Report in order to address the awards level differential between this country and England and Wales.  It is hoped that once this is done, there should be a significant positive impact on pricing.