As part of his ongoing engagement with relevant stakeholders as Chair of the Cost of Insurance Working Group, Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance, Michael D’Arcy TD, yesterday travelled to London with officials from his Department to meet with Lloyds of London representative groups and insurance underwriters, to outline to them the key reforms taking place in the Irish insurance market with a view to promoting to them that Ireland continues to be a place to write insurance business.
In that context, the Minister of State provided an overview of the achievements and remaining priorities for the Cost of Insurance Working Group as well as an overview of the legislative changes that have taken place since the beginning of 2018, notably the passage of four major pieces of legislation - the Insurance (Amendment) Act 2018, the Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019 and the Judicial Council Act 2019.
With regard to the Judicial Council Act 2019, the Minister expressed his hope that the new Personal Injuries Guidelines should recalibrate personal injury award levels in Ireland closer to those in other jurisdictions, in line with the Personal Injuries Commission’s recommendations.
The Minister was pleased to note that there was a positive reception from many of the groups he met about these reforms, but he noted that the key to attracting business into the Irish liability market was for the Personal Injuries Guidelines to be introduced as soon as possible.
The Minister of State intends to follow up these meetings with further meetings in Dublin with London market underwriters with a presence in Dublin, as well as host an event in London in the coming months to continue to promote Ireland as a place to do to business for insurers and underwriters.
Notes to Editors:
The Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG), which was established in July 2016, and which produced two reports, is continuing to work to implement the recommendations of the Cost of Motor Insurance Report and the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance Report. Its most recent Progress Update, the Ninth, was published in July 2019 and shows that the vast majority of recommendations and actions due by Q2 2019 have been completed. To that end, the key achievements to date from the two reports, including the following:
• The establishment of the Personal Injuries Commission and the publication of its two reports, which included a benchmarking of award levels between Ireland and other jurisdictions for the first time. This showed that award levels for soft tissue injuries in Ireland were 4.4 times higher than in England and Wales;
• The enactment of the Judicial Council Act 2019, in July which provides for the establishment of a Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee. The Judiciary are tasked with introducing new guidelines to replace the Book of Quantum. While the Government cannot interfere in their deliberations, it is hoped that the Judiciary will recognise the importance of this issue and prioritise it accordingly;
• The commencement and prioritisation by the Law Reform Commission (LRC) of its work to undertake a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries, as part of its Fifth Programme of Law Reform;
• The establishment of the National Claims Information Database in the Central Bank to increase transparency around the future cost of private motor insurance. The CBI is due to make its first report by the end of 2019, and will also make recommendations regarding potentially expanding its scope to include employer and public liability insurance;
• Reforms to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019 to strengthen the powers of PIAB around compliance with its procedures;
• Commencement of the amendments to Sections 8 and 14 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to align the timeframes by which claims should be notified to businesses with GDPR time limits on the keeping of CCTV footage to make it easier for businesses and insurers to challenge cases where fraud or exaggeration is suspected;
• The reform of the Insurance Compensation Fund to provide certainty to policyholders and insurers, resulting from the failure of Setanta Insurance; and,
• Various reforms of how fraud is reported to and dealt with by An Garda Síochána, including increased co-ordination with the insurance industry, as well as the recent decision by the Garda Commissioner to develop a divisional focus on insurance fraud which will be guided by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) which will also train Gardaí all over the country on investigating insurance fraud, and the recent success under Operation Coatee, which targets insurance-related criminality.