Insurance Plan long on aspiration but short on concrete actions

08 December 2020
  • Long-promised reforms on perjury and the Personal Injuries Assessment Board all welcome.
  • Absence of plans for innovative pooled insurance schemes to help make insurance more affordable for childcare providers and voluntary bodies disappointing.
  • Anti-competitive and rip-off practices like dual pricing need to be banned.

The Labour Party Spokesman on Finance Deputy Ged Nash, said the governments cross-departmental initiative on insurance reform, while a welcome step, will come too late for too many businesses and community services who have been hammered by sky high insurance costs for far too long.

He said that the failures of insurers to cough-up on business interruption pay-outs for Covid-19 has been an insult too far for many firms who were caught in the crosshairs of the pandemic.

The Louth & East Meath TD said;

“This factor alone, the failure to pay out on business interruption policies, illustrates the grasping culture innate to the insurance industry in Ireland and proves beyond all doubt that the sector and the underlying causes of spiralling costs and premiums for ordinary customers need to be taken in hand.

“We needed to urgently move beyond plans and words to actions and implementation. Yet the language contained within the plan, with for example, the pledge to ‘monitor whether personal injury award levels need to be capped’ – seems to me to be a case of kicking a well kicked can even further down the road.

“Sufficient information has been gleaned from the work already done by the Central Bank to show that the practice of dual-pricing is endemic in the Irish market. This is the practice of companies hammering loyal customers who are likely to allow policies to roll over without them shopping around. A strong message should be sent by government and the regulator that this practice will be outlawed in Ireland.

Deputy Nash continued;

“It also seems that we will not see a dedicated Garda fraud investigation bureau as called for in the findings of the report of the Personal Injuries Commission.

“Instead, the proposal to ‘train and support Gardaí in every division, to ensure that expertise and skills are disseminated across the State’ asks more questions than it provides answers.

“The Government must urgently clarify how and when this training will take place and how standardisation and co-ordination will be achieved between different Garda divisions.

“The Labour Party has proposed an innovative pooled insurance scheme, the norm in other EU countries, which would allow community services such as childcare centres and sport clubs to group together under one policy to secure significantly cheaper premiums. There is no evidence of this kind of innovative thinking in this plan.

“We also want to extend State Claims Agency cover to Section 38 and 39 bodies, to ensure that health and social care service providers who are mostly or fully funded by the HSE have their public liability insurance costs (a core overhead) met at a much cheaper rate.”

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