Insurance industry more worried about profits than claim sizes

It is objectionable to suggest the insurance industry is looking after society by seeking to reduce awards

For every victim there is a villain. That juxtaposition rages on in today’s society where ordinary people are easy targets for insurance companies so keenly protecting their profits.

For months now the well-oiled insurance industry machine has blamed alleged increased compensation awards and legal costs for rising insurance premiums. The reality is that awards are being cut by the Court of Appeal and costs are being reduced by the Taxing Master, yet we see no reduction in motor insurance premiums. Why?

A recurrent theme from the insurance industry is that Irish awards are too “high”. What is meant by “high awards”? It is easy to categorise the award someone has received as “high”, but the recipient, or their families, may not regard it as high.

It is only after a full hearing that an award is made. These hearings take days and often weeks. The alternative to a court award is that a case may be settled, meaning insurers are prepared to pay that sum. So either the insurer has decided to pay the award or a judge has made that decision after a forensic analysis of evidence. So how do these awards come to be classed as high?


There is a very effective lobby organised by the insurance industry. It complains bitterly about what it terms “high” awards. Is it high relative to what?

Of course, those that pay (insurance companies) will always consider what they have to pay as high. What do the recipients (victims) of the awards think? Has anyone asked them? No. We have instead asked those that do the damage.

In reality this crusade is another attempt by the insurance industry to mould our legal system to suit its agenda.

Level of damages

Up to the 1980s, the man on the street, by his participation in the jury system, fixed the level of damages. The insurance industry did not like that, and successfully mounted a campaign that led to its abolition. It then campaigned vigorously to establish an injuries board.

Now it complains that the injuries board and the judiciary are making awards that are too high.

Insurance companies complaining they have to pay victims are complaining about their raison d'être. It is like a mechanic complaining that he has to repair cars.

There is nothing wrong about increasing profits for insurance companies, but what is objectionable is an attempt to suggest that the insurance industry is looking after society and motorists at large by seeking to reduce awards.

They do not have the interest of motorists at heart. They are concerned to ensure that the profits they make are increased.

Should insurance companies be the ones to decide what is high or low? Is that really appropriate? One would have thought that one would look to the victim to have an input (as a minimum) into this debate.

No engagement

The recently hailed

Book of Quantum

was published following research commissioned by a company Verisk Analytics. This company, according to its website, is “a leading data analytics provider serving customers in insurance”.

There was no engagement with any injured persons or their representatives. It came to the figures it arrived at following consultation with the insurance industry, and secret information was provided to it .

It was heartening to see Mr Justice Kevin Cross in the High Court on November 29th, 2016, in a case Gillian O'Sullivan V DePuy make the following comments: "It is not clear what the portion of the Book of Quantum's figures are in relation to insurance company files, but on the face of it a significant cause to doubt the accuracy of the recent book does present itself."

We need to make sure that victims of wrongdoers are adequately and fairly compensated. I am sure there are a lot of people who come out of court who feel that they have not got a "high award". We do not hear about these people at all yet they are there. No attempt is made to carry out a victims' survey. Why is this? Sinead Carroll is a solicitor