Justice minister Charlie Flanagan told the Seanad that the insurance industry must drive down the cost of premiums.
Speaking on 28 March in a debate on damages for personal injuries, he said the Law Reform Commission has committed to a detailed review of constitutionally sound legislation to cap the damages which a court may award in respect of personal injuries.
“I am pleased that the Law Reform Commission has agreed to prioritise this work and that this initiative has been endorsed by the Cost of Insurance Working Group,” he said.
The minister said the insurance industry needed to do more to address insurance costs.
“The insurance industry in Ireland is very profitable and, while I commend the companies involved for their success, I believe it is incumbent on them to consider the onerous costs of premiums.
“In my view there is not a proportionate relationship between the claims made and the constant hiking of insurance costs which are threatening livelihoods at this stage.
“The annual profits of ten major insurance companies amounted to between €6.1 million and €201 million at the end of 2017 with the total assets of insurance corporations reported by the Central Bank to be €305 billion at the end of last year.
“There is clearly scope to reduce insurance costs for consumers and I am calling on the industry to act,” he said.
The Minister said 29 out of 33 recommendations of the Cost of Insurance Working Group have now been completed or categorised as “ongoing”.
In respect of the Employer and Public Liability Report, 24 out of 26 action points have been accomplished.
The minister said the new Personal Injuries Assessment (Amendment) Act 2019 will be commenced on 3 April and will reinforce the PIAB process and set a three-year review period for the Book of Quantum.
New guidelines will be published for the reporting of fraudulent insurance claims to An Garda Síochána.
Insurance fraud statistics are now actively recorded on the Garda PULSE system.
“The Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018 was commenced on 28 January on foot of a recommendation of the Cost of Insurance Working Group to facilitate a more in-depth analysis of annual trends in motor insurance claims.
“This is seen as key to developing an understanding of how claims and their costs are impacting on premiums,” the minister told the Seanad.
The Minister said that the Government would not oppose the Civil Liability (Capping of General Damages) Bill 2019 as it was important to facilitate a debate. However, constitutional difficulties will need to be addressed at Committee Stage.