Insurance reform must be prioritised to help businesses recover, says SME group

Alliance for Insurance Reform says nothing Government has done so far has worked

New personal injuries guidelines are set to be adopted and published by the Judicial Council by July 31st.

New personal injuries guidelines are set to be adopted and published by the Judicial Council by July 31st.

 

Insurance reform must be “sorted” in 2021, a group representing businesses across the country has argued, if small and medium sized businesses are to help the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic this year.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform, which represents civic and business organisations across the country and whose members include the Vintners Federation of Ireland, the Irish Hotels Federation and ISME, has put forward five priority reforms for the sector in 2021.

Eoin McCambridge, managing director of McCambridge’s of Galway and director of the Alliance, said “nothing” the Government has done so far has applied any downward pressure on insurance premiums .

“If Government expects Ireland to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic through SMEs or for Irish society as a whole to recover through voluntary and community groups, then insurance must and can be sorted in 2021,” he said.

The group has put forward five priorities to address the insurance crisis facing businesses in Ireland.

“There are 66 actions in the Government’s Action Plan on Insurance Reform, but unless these five issues are addressed this year, then 2021 will go down as the year insurance could have been sorted, but wasn’t.”

Five priorities

The group wants to see general damages for minor injuries “dramatically reduced”, in order to reflect international norms and norms already established by the Court of Appeal. New personal injuries guidelines are set to be adopted and published by the Judicial Council by July 31st, but the group says that they “have no idea what the new guidelines will look like or when we will get to see them, if at all, before they are adopted by the Courts”.

In addition, the Alliance is also calling for reform of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), as if not “ radically reformed, it will be irrelevant within a decade”,

The “common duty of care” should be redefined to require occupiers to take a duty of care that is “reasonable, practical and proportionate”.

“We await action from the Minister for Justice that will address the situation where many policyholders find themselves 100 per cent liable for accidents regardless of the circumstances,” the group said.

A formal Garda response to insurance fraud should also be established. “Four years after the Cost of Insurance Working Group first addressed this issue and despite commitments from An Garda Síochána in 2019 to a division-led approach, we are no closer to having a formal Garda response to insurance fraud.”

Finally, the group wants to see forecasts on when reforms will lead to reductions in insurance costs, and is waiting on an assessment of the expected impact on premium levels of reforms being introduced from Minister of State Sean Fleming.