Thursday, 26 September 2019

Ceisteanna (12, 13, 18, 43, 47)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

12. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Finance the status of work to assist businesses that are struggling to obtain insurance at all or at reasonable rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39088/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

13. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider plans to address the current insurance crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39034/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

18. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the steps he plans to take to tackle the growing insurance crisis affecting certain sectors of the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39061/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

43. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Finance the steps he is taking to reduce the cost of employers' and public liability insurance for businesses and community groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39091/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

47. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Finance the status of plans to deal with the increasing cost of motor, home and business insurance; the steps being taken to prevent businesses from closing and to bring down premiums; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38583/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Oral answers (6 contributions) (Ceist ar Finance)

I want to ask about the efforts that are being made across the board to support businesses that are struggling to get insurance cover. The Minister of State met representatives of a significant number of businesses in County Kildare when I brought a delegation to him before the summer recess. The delegation included people who have businesses in the hospitality sector and small family-run businesses that are facing substantial challenges as they seek to access insurance cover at a reasonable rate. I am looking for an update on the progress that has been made since the passing of the Judicial Council Bill 2017 earlier this year. I acknowledge that the Bill received support from all sides of the House. Where are we at in this regard?

I propose to take Questions Nos. 12, 13, 18, 43 and 47 together.

In the short time available, I will repeat where we are at now that the Judicial Council Bill 2017 has been passed. Some sections of the Act are now operational. The Judicial Council will be established by the end of this year. I have requested that the establishment of the personal injury committee under the council should happen in parallel with the establishment of the council. I have also requested that the seven members of the committee should be appointed by the Chief Justice by the end of this calendar year. I have also asked for the reduction in the guidelines for the five primary areas for personal injury to be taken on board. If that happens, we will have a different insurance sector in 2020.

That is very helpful. Obviously, there is a clear separation between what we do in this House and what the Judiciary does. The passing of the Judicial Council Bill 2017 is a sign of the clear determination of Deputies on all sides of the House. We know what needs to happen.

It is now up to the legal profession to deal with this. We need to keep a very close eye on the situation to ensure progress is made in reducing the cost of claims, in particular for whiplash and soft tissue injuries where we are out of line with neighbouring countries. The passage of an amendment the Civil Liabilities and Courts Act has made a significant difference to businesses which faced people presenting with claims after more than two years at which point CCTV footage had been lost. Having to notify businesses of a claim within 30 days is the correct approach.

I thank the Minister of State for agreeing to answer Question No. 13. There is no doubt that the cost of employer and public liability insurance is a direct threat to businesses throughout the country and many aspects of the leisure industry. Triathlon Ireland stated during the summer that insurance premiums for races are jeopardising the future of sport in Ireland. Athy and Naas Triathlon Clubs are booming due to an increase in members.

I am aware of a crèche owner in Portarlington who was recently quoted a figure of €250,000 for insurance. There is no public swimming pool in Newbridge and the nearest swimming pool was run by a private company, Spin Activity Centre, which had to close at the end of August because it was quoted €100,000 for insurance, a fourfold increase on the previous year. The closure resulted in 20 people losing their jobs. Deputy McGrath has put forward very good suggestions and Bills and I suggest the Government examine them in order to try to bring down the cost of insurance for businesses and community and leisure facilities.

Public and employers' liability insurance is a significant issue for community groups and smaller employers in many areas. Increased transparency in respect of claims was a clear step identified by the working group, but there were delays in bringing forward the various databases and reports. What action has the Minister of State taken in that regard? How soon can we expect to see improvements in the rates?

The response of the Minister of State will be circulated.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.