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Book of quantum to be replaced and perjury made a crime
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

09 Dec 2020 / regulation Print

Book of quantum to go, and perjury made a crime

The Government has published its first-ever plan to shake up the insurance sector, with 66 actions to bring down costs, introduce more competition, and reduce the burden on business.

The goal is to make Ireland’s insurance sector more competitive and consumer-friendly, supporting both enterprise and job creation.

The Action Plan of the Cabinet Committee Sub-Group on Insurance Reform sets out 66 actions to bring down costs for consumers and business; introduce more competition into the market; prevent fraud and reduce the burden on business, community and voluntary organisations.

Targets of the plan

The plan aims to:

  • Replace the Book of Quantum with new guidelines on the appropriate level of personal-injury awards,
  • Enhance the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board,
  • Examine the duty of care to strengthen waivers and notices to increase protections for consumers, businesses, sporting clubs and community groups,
  • Expand the National Claims Information Database,
  • Monitor whether personal-injury award levels need to be capped,
  • Place perjury on a statutory footing, making the offence easier to prosecute,
  • Strengthen enforcement powers of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC),
  • Examine dual pricing, and
  • Establish an office within Government to encourage greater insurance market competition.

Cost-of-insurance problems

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, said: “Insurance reform is one of my top priorities as Tánaiste.

“For far too long, the cost and availability of insurance has been a problem for businesses, consumers, and community and voluntary groups. Things have to change, and I am determined that they should change for the better under this new Government.”

He added that, as the economy re-opens, businesses and families will face financial pressures, including that of insurance, and that must be alleviated.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the plan was a clear demonstration of focus on reforming the insurance sector.

“I believe that the insurance industry has a key role in helping to reopen the economy and wider society as we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Perjury penalties

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that the plan would include a review of the Occupiers’ Liability Act and an assessment of the implementation of the Personal Injury Guidelines.

“The Perjury and Related Offences Bill will introduce penalties for perjury-related offences, and there will be enhanced cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the insurance industry to combat insurance fraud,” she said.

Reducing premiums

Sean Fleming (Minister of State with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance) said that all of the insurance companies and stakeholders had been spoken to about reducing their premiums. 

“I am satisfied these actions will deliver on this commitment over time. Progress has been made on motor insurance, but many businesses have not felt the benefits of this.

Clear and transparent analysis

“My role is to encourage competition but also seek out a clear and transparent analysis of all costs associated with insurance premiums. Over the past couple of years, legal costs, fraud and big profits of insurance companies have hurt Irish consumers.

“Competition in Ireland has been shaped by the fact that we only have one locally owned insurance company, which makes us reliant on multinationals.

“Next week, I will chair the first meeting of a new cross-departmental office, which will take a strategic approach to promoting competition by breaking down barriers to reform and enhancing policy co-ordination across the State,” Minister Fleming said.

Reform of the Personal Injuries Board

Robert Troy (Minister of State with responsibility for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation) added: “Reform of the Personal Injuries Board and enhancing the powers of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission is a top priority for me.

‘The actions set out in this Action Plan are essential to reducing the cost of insurance and dealing with the negative impact this has on businesses and consumers. I am committed to progressing actions over the coming months to bring about effective change for consumers, businesses and community and voluntary groups.”

The 66-point action plan will be delivered by ministers in the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Finance, and Justice over the next 18 months.

A Sub-Group on Insurance Reform within the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery will publish its progress every six months.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland