Insurance sector reform inches along with move on premium advice

Requirement for basic data comes three years after formation of working group

Michael D’Arcy, the Minister of State responsible for knocking heads together to deliver more reasonable insurance costs for consumers. Photograph: Alan Betson

Michael D’Arcy, the Minister of State responsible for knocking heads together to deliver more reasonable insurance costs for consumers. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

It doesn’t seem like a lot but it has been a long time coming. Insurers are finally having to remind private motorists what they paid last year at the same time as they advise them on the following year’s premiums.

At least, if you’re a private motorist they will. But it doesn’t extend (yet anyway) to commercial drivers or homeowners. Aside from being a basic and sensible aide memoire, having to put both premiums on the same page may restrain insurers from some of the more ambitious increases that occasionally find their way on to renewal forms only to be hastily marked down when consumers indicate their intent to shop around.

Tellingly, no one involved was overly happy with the news. The insurance sector argues that it has yet to see any substantial reduction in the cost of claims, brokers were complaining that it will only add to the already onerous burden of paperwork that needs to be produced at renewal time – most of which, they argue, no one reads anyway – and reform campaigners only grudgingly welcomed what they called “micro improvements” from the “notoriously secretive” industry that had fought tooth and nail against yielding even this information.

Michael D’Arcy, the Minister of State responsible for knocking heads together to deliver more reasonable costs for consumers and lower claims costs for the sector acknowledged there was much work left to do. He did point to a 24 per cent fall in the price of motor insurance since it peaked in July 2016, as reported by the Central Statistics Office, but that’s not a saving that will resonate with most motorists.

July 2016 was when the Cost of Insurance Working Group was formed. Over three years later, we have only got to the point where basic data on previous premiums can be made available to consumers.

The Minister insists that insurance reform remains high on the Government’s agenda but it’s not hard to see why Alliance for Insurance Reform director Peter Boland argues that if more substantial transparency reforms move at this pace “it will be our children’s’ children, not us, who benefit from them”.

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