I propose to take Questions Nos. 34, 35 and 37 together.
I am very conscious of the difficulties being experienced as a result of the cost and availability of insurance to certain types of businesses. Whilst at both political and departmental level there has been considerable engagement with the different business stakeholders including for instance play centres, representatives, the owners of childcare facilities have not been in touch directly with my Department nor the Cost of Insurance of Insurance Working Group for a meeting to discuss insurance problems that they may be encountering.
Unfortunately, there is no single policy or legislative “silver bullet” to immediately stem or reverse these trends, either in the case of individual types of businesses such as childcare operators or businesses that run outdoor activities, or for businesses generally. This is because there are many constraints faced by the Government in trying to address this issue in particular the fact that for constitutional reasons, it cannot direct the courts as to the award levels that should be applied and for legal reasons it cannot direct insurance companies as to the as to the price or the level of cover to be provided to consumers or businesses as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on the risks they are willing to accept.
I consider it therefore important that the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) continues to implement the 33 recommendations from the 2017 Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance and the 15 recommendations from the 2018 Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance. This is necessary in order to ensure that the necessary reforms, in particular with regard to bringing the levels of damages awarded in this country more in line with those awarded in other jurisdictions, through the development of new Personal Injury Judicial Guidelines following the enactment of the Judicial Council Bill. I am hopeful that the cumulative effects of the completion of the two Reports’ recommendations will include increased stability in the pricing of insurance for businesses and a more competitive insurance market.
Finally, I believe that the CIWG’s reforms are already having a significant impact with regard to private motor insurance (CSO figures from May 2019 show that the price of motor insurance is now 24.5% lower than the July 2016 peak). The Government is determined to continue working to ensure that these positive pricing trends can be extended to other forms of insurance, including those relevant to businesses.