Alliance welcomes focus on insurance reform in programme for government document

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Calls on incoming government, judiciary and Garda Commissioner to move swiftly

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed the clear focus on insurance reform in the draft Programme for Government document now in circulation, but has urged a real sense of urgency from everyone now charged with getting reforms over the line.

Proposed reforms listed in the document include:

  • Establish a cabinet subcommittee on insurance reform  
  • Recognise the work of the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee of the Judicial Council to provide guidance on personal injury claims
  • Enhance and reform the PIAB
  • Regulate claims harvesters
  • Consider changes to the Occupiers Liability Act and The Civil Liability Act to strengthen waivers and notices to increase protections for consumers, businesses, sporting clubs and community groups
  • Consider a constitutional amendment to enable the Oireachtas to set general damages
  • Address insurance fraud by seeking to expand the National Economic Crime Bureau
  • Ensure fraudulent claims are forwarded to the DPP
  • Establish a fraud database
  • Give additional powers to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC)
  • Oblige insurers to quantify impact of key reforms
  • Work to remove dual pricing on insurance

Peter Boland, Director of the Alliance said “While we welcome the focus on insurance reform in the programme for government document, we have been here before with the hope offered by the Cost of Insurance Working Group Report in 2017 and the Personal Injuries Commissions Reports in 2018. If Irish SMEs and voluntary groups are going to recover from the Covid19 crisis, we need urgent real reform on foot of the programme for government.

“We will need the full engagement of the next Government and particularly the new cabinet sub-committee if we are to make meaningful progress. But  we will also need the Judicial Council to move swiftly to dramatically reduce general damages for minor injuries; and the Garda Commissioner to establish a full network of divisional fraud units with dedicated fraud investigators and a specialised support unit at the NECB. On the reforms that are proposed, we cannot afford any further delays as most of them have already been round the houses before.

“We will be seeking clarification from the political parties on the commitment to reform the Occupiers Liability Act and The Civil Liability Act with regard to duty of care. If their approach is merely to strengthen waivers and notices, this will not be sufficient to address an issue that has become all the more important in the light of the current pandemic. We must rebalance the duty of care so that occupiers are required to take a duty of care that is reasonable, practical and proportionate but not absolute, ignoring personal responsibility.

”We also note with concern that there is no mention of commencing the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act 2019,  an important piece of consumer protection legislation that was signed into law by the President in December 2019, but has still not been commenced by the Minister at the request of the insurance industry. This legislation cannot be allowed to be sidelined on behalf of a narrow-interest lobby group.”

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