Policy holders have been 'thrown to the wolves' by Government
The Alliance of insurance Reform has expressed its intense disappointment at the slow pace of reform in the insurance and judicial industries following a meeting with Michel D'Arcy TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Insurance at Government Buildings today.
Speaking after the meeting, Eoin McCambridge of McCambridges of Galway and director of the Alliance said:
"The Government promised 'to identify immediate and longer term measures which can address increasing costs', when they launched the Cost of Insurance Working Group in September 2016. We turned up at Government Buildings today expecting news on significant actions. What we have got instead is death by a thousand consultations and the dead hand of vested interests . The hard-pressed motorists, charities, voluntary groups, sports clubs and businesses around the country cannot wait for reform. It must happen now.
The Government has been hoodwinked into believing motor insurance premiums are on the way down. In reality, they are up 42% since January 2014, with increasing numbers of young drivers and owners of older cars unable to get insurance at all.
Meanwhile, charities, voluntary groups, sports clubs and businesses are reporting enormous increases in their liability insurance premiums, a crisis happening behind closed doors due to the lack of any data from the secretive insurance industry. We feel like we've been thrown to the wolves by the Government with no real help in sight."
Ivan Cooper, Director of Advocacy with The Wheel (Ireland's national association for community, voluntary and charitable organisations) said after the meeting:
"The insurance issue is increasingly impacting on our members in terms of their costs and the restrictions placed on their activities by insurance policies. This situation is unsustainable as it is a block on voluntary organisations who want to contribute to Irish society. We are calling today for an acceleration in the pace of reform in the industry."
Also speaking after the meeting was Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform. He said:
"The CIWG Reports are now littered with examples of positive-sounding actions that have been interminably delayed or neutered. For example, a protocol was proposed that would oblige insurance companies to notify a policyholder of claims made against them before settlement. This was supposed to be in place since the end of 2017 but has disappeared into the ether.
Likewise, a Garda Unit specialising in insurance fraud and funded by the insurance industry was due to be in place by the end of last year. Again, this has disappeared without trace.
Furthermore, what has been completed is completely unsatisfactory. For example the insurance industry was to be compelled to explain large premium increases to motorists. Instead, what was agreed between the industry and the Department of Finance was a blend generic statement that will be sent out with every premium increase and is a masterclass in saying everything and saying nothing. (https://www.aig.ie/existing-customers/renewal-quote-explained)
"Overall, the Government's CIWG is turning into a long-term process and there is no point in a long-term process to address an urgent issue. The actions the Alliance are focusing on are ones we believe to be just, proportionate, feasible, achievable within a limited timeframe and ultimately, we believe, effective."
The actions the Alliance wants taken right now are :
PREVENTION OF FRAUDULENT, MISLEADING AND EXAGGERATED CLAIMS
· Link Sections 26 and 25 of the Civil Liability Act 2004 so that if a claim is dismissed because it is false or misleading, it is automatically referred to the Gardai for prosecution under Section 25.
· Push on the establishment of the Garda Insurance Fraud Unit funded by Insurance Industry
· Regulate claims management companies (claims harvesters)
· General damages to be consistent with comparable European norms
· Tariffs for specific injuries to be proportionate with the Court of Appeal cap of €450,000 for catastrophic injuries
· Consistency in the awarding of general damages among judges
· Transparent data on the insurance industry so that we can identify why the crisis is happening
· Transparency from insurance companies on why individual premiums are increased
· Transparency from insurance companies on how, when and why claims are settled.
Commented McCambridge, "It was agreed that the Alliance would meet the Minister and his team again soon to follow up on progress. We will be expecting a lot more action soon if reform is going to make any difference for our members".