The Irish Times view on insurance costs: the figures don’t add up

Insurance reform has been on the agenda since the early 2000s but the various parties keep looking elsewhere to lay blame

As Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty has pointed out, each of three insurance companies before the finance committee last week reported only around 1 per cent of claims to the Garda.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

As Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty has pointed out, each of three insurance companies before the finance committee last week reported only around 1 per cent of claims to the Garda. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

When it comes to insurance, increasingly the figures just don’t add up. Last week three senior insurance executives claimed before an Oireachtas committee that up to one in five claims they processed involved fraud or exaggeration. Yet, as Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty pointed out, each of three companies before the finance committee have reported only around one per cent of claims to the Garda.

Either their own figures are less than strictly accurate, Doherty said, or they are not reporting them because it was not worth the bother. His comments came against a background where the industry has recently reported a strong rise in profits. For their part, insurance companies insist that if the cost of claims and awards falls, insurance premiums would do likewise. Data from the Courts Service annual report shows that costs are indeed falling. Its figures show there was a 29 per cent drop in the aggregate value of awards made in insurance cases last year, excluding medical negligence cases.

Mr D’arcy said he doesn’t hold insurance companies in ‘high regard’ and had made ‘pretty strong statements’ about them. Photograph: iStock
Lawyers must be more discerning in the business they pursue, as Judge Jacqueline Linnane has stated in the Circuit Civil Court. File photograph: iStock

Insurance reform has been on the agenda since the early 2000s but the various parties keep looking elsewhere to lay blame. It is surely time to stop shifting the target. The companies need to monitor and pursue more actively fraud and exaggeration. The legal system also needs to play its part. The Judicial Council will, in time, introduce new personal injuries guidelines. But, with legislation still not signed into law, that is close to two and a half years away at best .

In the meantime, lawyers must be more discerning in the business they pursue, as Judge Jacqueline Linnane stated in the Circuit Civil Court yesterday when dismissing five fraudulent damages claims seeking up to €300,000 for whiplash injuries. And judges themselves need to recognise the import of recent rulings by the Court of Appeal.

These are binding on lower courts, so they should be pushing down the size of awards for minor to moderate injuries. The evidence from the district and circuit courts last year is that this has yet to happen – at least on a consistent basis.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.