I am very much aware of the issues of affordability and availability facing many sectors, such as the specific motor sport one highlighted by the Deputy, which provide such a valuable contribution to the well-being of our society and economy in general. However, it is important to note that neither the Government nor the Central Bank of Ireland have any influence over the pricing or provision of insurance products, nor can we compel any insurer operating in the Irish market to provide cover to any individual business or groups, as this is a commercial matter. This position is reinforced by the EU legislative framework for insurance (the Solvency II Directive).
Notwithstanding these constraints, insurance reform is a policy priority as illustrated by the Programme for Government. This contains commitments aimed at addressing consumer and business concerns around the cost and availability of insurance cover. The Action Plan for Insurance Reform contains a range of deliverable actions across a number of policy areas. Actions delivered in the first three months of the year include:
- The publication of new Personal Injuries Guidelines which will be formally adopted via legislation shortly;
- Establishment of a new Office to Promote Competition in the Insurance Market;
- The commencement of a public consultation on enhancing role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB); and,
- Introduction of new regulations on solicitors advertising.
I would also like to add that we have iniated reform to PIAB, led by the Minister of State, Deputy Troy. We will make changes to duty of care legislation and we are also undertaking reforms to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to improve its powers in regard to competition.
With respect to my own Department, it is the lead for just over a third of the actions in the Action Plan on Insurance Reform. Work is progressing to implement these actions within the timeframe set out in the Plan.
In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to assure the Deputy that securing a more sustainable and competitive market through deepening and widening the supply of insurance in Ireland remains a key policy priority for this Government. In this regard, it is my intention to work with my Government colleagues to ensure that implementation of the Action Plan can have a positive impact on the affordability and availability of insurance for individuals, businesses, community and voluntary groups across Ireland.