Michael D’Arcy: Insurance claimants should first apply ‘brother/sister’ test
‘If that incident happened in your brother’s or sister’s house you wouldn’t make a claim’
Minister of State for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael D’Arcy said only the judiciary had the authority to change the book of quantum.
People considering taking a person injuries claim should apply what the Minister with responsibility for insurance matters has called the “brother/sister test”.
Minister of State for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael D’Arcy has told the Dáil that “just because an incident happens in a venue that is a business premises and potentially has insurance, people should not claim”.
Mr D’Arcy said “if that incident happened in your brother’s house or your sister’s house you wouldn’t make a claim against your brother or your sister.
“But we have an attitude in Ireland because of the high levels of awards that it is easy money, very easy money on some occasions and that the attitude is, ‘I’m going to get what I can out of it’.”
He also said insurance companies are no white knights and their settlement channels, the way they pay on claims, was wrong.
Some insurance companies pay “go-away money, they don’t pay settlement money. Other companies drag people through the courts, wrongly” and this had to be dealt with.
The Minister was responding in the Dáil to Independent TD Mattie McGrath who claimed there was an unwillingness by Government and the legal system do deal with the high payouts for insurance claims.
He said it was having a big impact on businesses which were being forced to close by fraudulent claims which were “being supported by the culture down in the law library”.
There should be a reasonable book of quantum and he had no issue with a person with a serious injury making a claim but “I have a terrible issue with frivolous and fraudulent claims. And the recent exposure we got in this House about a colleague is shocking,” he said. “It sends completely the wrong message and then questions about certain legal firms of this House again representing them.”
“It’s despicable what’s going on,” he said. “But to get that example from a chair of an Oireachtas committee makes it worse.”
Mr McGrath made reference to, but did not name, Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey who took a personal injuries claim against a Dublin hotel over a fall on an unsupervised swing but subsequently withdrew it.
The Minister said “I will not be commenting on the case Deputy McGrath has talked about. I’ve never spoken about individual cases” and he did not intend to.
Mr D’Arcy said only the judiciary had the authority to change the book of quantum. The Judicial Council Appointments Bill would establish a committee of the judiciary that would review the book of quantum which sets out the range of awards for different personal injuries.
He added that the crucial aspect was to ensure that premiums reduced and that “the insurance companies do not get the opportunity to pocket the awards themselves” but that as awards came down so too should the premiums.
He said that for every fraudulent claim there were hundreds of exaggerated claims where people have been affected through no fault of their own, but they’re jacking up what they’re looking for.
And for every one exaggerated claim there are hundreds of claims by people who are looking for the correct amount, which a lot of people think is excessive in the first place, up to 4½ times what people get in the UK.