Thursday, 21 November 2019

Ceisteanna (56)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

56. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of times he has met with insurance companies and Insurance Ireland since 1 January 2016; the date of each meeting; the persons or bodies he met with; the purpose of each meeting in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48302/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, as Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation, which includes insurance. In this regard, both I and my predecessor, Mr Michael Noonan T.D. as Ministers for Finance, have always recognised insurance reform as a key priority for this Government. However, we have been consistently clear that there is no quick fix solution to the current problems in the Irish market. This is in part due to the EU framework for insurance, which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules, which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. In addition, a further constraint is the fact that for constitutional reasons, I cannot direct the courts as to the award levels that should be applied.

That said, my predecessor Minister Noonan recognised that the environment within which insurers operate could be improved and consequently established the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) in 2016, which was chaired initially by then Minister of State for Financial Services, Eoghan Murphy TD. Its purpose was to examine the factors contributing to the increasing cost of insurance and identifying what short, medium and long-term measures could be introduced to help reduce the cost of insurance for consumers and businesses. I believe that the CIWG has made a lot of progress and it is continuing to work to implement the recommendations of both of its reports. This progress is reflected in the fact that CSO figures show motor insurance costs have decreased by 27.1% since the peak in July 2016.

Much works remain to be done and in this regard the implementation of the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) benchmarking report is critical, if we are to bring award levels more into line with other jurisdictions, and thus reduce the cost of insurance and increase its availability. As the Deputy is aware the groundwork for this has been laid through the enactment of the Judicial Council Bill and once operational it will be a matter for the Judiciary to put in place new guidelines which reflect amongst other things the PIC report.

In addition, I think it is worth noting that the Minister of State’s title includes special responsibility for Financial Services and Insurance. When An Taoiseach announced his decision to appoint Minister of State D’Arcy to this new portfolio in June 2017, I believe that the specific reference to insurance in his portfolio demonstrated the Government’s belief that this issue needed to be tackled by a dedicated Minister of State within the Department of Finance. In that respect, Minister of State D’Arcy has taken a lead role in relation to chairing the CIWG, and as part of that role, he has held numerous meetings with relevant stakeholders, including the insurance industry and its representatives. I believe that this has been appropriate and remains so, in light of the Minister of State’s responsibilities. However, I wish to emphasise that I, as the Minister for Finance, have and will continue to play an active role in ensuring that insurance reform remains a priority for the Government.

In conclusion, I do not believe that a measure of success for any Minister for Finance is the number of meetings held with any individual sector, instead it is the progress being made towards a stated objective, in this case lower insurance costs. While accepting that much work remains to be done, I believe strongly that tangible results have been delivered on the insurance reform front to date. In addition, the necessary framework to enable the recalibration of personal injury award levels will soon be in place and I would expect this to have a significant impact on the cost and availability of insurance.

I am happy to provide the information requested and would refer the Deputy to the following table.

Meetings (Minister Noonan)

Date

Location

Purpose

Kevin Hogan, Chief Executive Officer, Consumer Insurance, AIGSid Sankaran, Chief Financial officer, AIGDeclan O’Rourke, Country Manager for Ireland, AIG

1/12/2016

Department of Finance

Meeting with AIG following request by IDA

Meetings (Minister Donohoe)

Date

Location

Purpose

Kevin Thompson, CEO (Insurance Ireland)Declan Jackson, Director of Government Affairs (Insurance Ireland)Aidan Holton, International Council Chair (Insurance Ireland) and CEO (SCOR Global)

28/03/2018

Department of Finance

Discussion – Implications of US tax reforms