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Monday 20 February 2017

Insurance firms defend themselves on accusations about secret compensation settlements being linked to soaring motor premiums

Charlie Weston, Personal Finance Editor

Published 08/06/2016 | 12:57

Kevin Thompson, CEO, Insurance Ireland
Kevin Thompson, CEO, Insurance Ireland

INSURANCE companies have defended themselves over accusations that secret compensation settlements are part of the reason for soaring motor premiums.

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It comes after Fianna Fáil demanded a new national claims register be put together to force insurance companies to publish full details of every pay-out they make.

A motion on insurance costs is to be debated in the Dáil tonight.

But Insurance Ireland said it was wrong to say it was holding back information on compensation deals.

Insurers settle around two in three claims, but the level of compensation in each case is now made known.

The level of four awards and those made though the Injuries Board are revealed.

Insurance Ireland, the representative body for insurers, said it was wrong to say there is no data available on claims settled directly by insurers.

It also continued to claim that legal costs and high levels of compensation awards in this country were a major reason for premiums rising by 34pc last year.

Kevin Thompson of Insurance Ireland said: “It is incorrect to say there is no industry data available. We are already held to an extremely high standard on data reporting and we welcome that. The reports produced on insurance, contain more detail than almost any other sector”

He said the Central Bank’s annual insurance statistics report lists what insurers take in and what they pay out.

“Data is a complex area and there are commercial competition and data protection issues which cannot simply be set aside because of a desire to see more detail”

But Mr Thompson went on to say his body was working with the Government to try to standardise data so that it’s more easily understood.

And he questioned claims by barrister body, the Bar Council, that legal fees had fallen by 30pc to 50pc.

“Insurance Ireland members have not seen that reduction in their legal costs and the statistics don’t back it up. We stand over our assertion that the cost of claims, including legal fees, are leading to rising insurance premiums,” he said.

In a statement, the Bar Council stood over the figures, citing data from various State agencies for the period 2006 to 2013.

It said this data showed that professional fees in respect of barristers saw average decreases of between 26pc and 50pc.

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