Sunday 25 June 2017

Drivers face road checks to tackle car insurance cost hikes

Gardaí are to get the technology to carry out roadside checks to see if drivers have insurance. Stock picture
Gardaí are to get the technology to carry out roadside checks to see if drivers have insurance. Stock picture

Charlie Weston and Gordon Deegan

A major clampdown on uninsured drivers is to be implemented in a bid to tackle the rocketing cost of motor insurance.

Gardaí are to get the technology to carry out roadside checks to see if drivers have insurance.

There are about 150,000 drivers on the roads who have no insurance.

Now a new database is to be put in place giving details of all drivers, which company insures them, and details of the cars and registrations.

The widespread roll-out of automatic number plate recognition technology will allow gardaí at the side of the road to quickly work out if the driver has insurance cover for the vehicle. Details about uninsured drivers would be listed on the database.

Meanwhile, another database of fraudulent personal injuries claims is to be put in place to cut down on false and exaggerated claims.

It is understood that this database is likely to be funded by the insurance industry.

However, no decision has been made yet on which State agency will be in charge of the fraud database, which is likely to become known as the 'swindlers' list'.

The Government believes a new database will help to identify repeat claimants and those engaged in staged accidents.

The measures were approved by the Cabinet yesterday after a report prepared by Junior Minister Eoghan Murphy.

But Mr Murphy admitted that no firm commitments had been made on extra resources for gardaí to roll out the new number plate recognition technology.

About 100 garda cars were already equipped with the technology, he said.

The action plan comes after motor insurance costs shot up by almost 70pc in the past three years.

The report sets out 71 actions, as part of 33 recommendations, to be implemented to bring insurance costs down.

One of the measures is the setting up of a commission to look at personal injury awards in Ireland compared with other countries. The new personal injuries commission is to be chaired by retired High Court Justice Nicholas Kearns.

It will examine payouts for soft-tissue injuries and compare them to the average awards in other countries, but the final decision on the level of awards made in court will still remain with the judiciary.

Premiums

Mr Murphy said it would take time to implement all 33 recommendations in the motor insurance report.

There was no silver bullet, he said, and it could be a while before the measures feed through to lower premiums.

Insurance Ireland welcomed the planned Government changes.

Separately, the country's second largest health insurer, Laya, enjoyed a 22pc increase in pre-tax profits in 2015 to €15.7m.

The jump in profits followed Laya hiking up premiums.

The price hike in 2015 followed an earlier average jump in premiums of around 20pc from March 2014.

The pre-tax profits enjoyed by Laya Healthcare Ltd during 2015 and 2014 total €28.65m.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Also in Business