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Saturday 23 September 2017

So many excuses for rip-off - but very few solutions

The law says we must pay for insurance before taking to the road and yet there is no law stopping companies ripping us off for the privilege (Stock image)
The law says we must pay for insurance before taking to the road and yet there is no law stopping companies ripping us off for the privilege (Stock image)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

It has reached a point where most people are very aware of the high cost of their insurance premiums but hugely unclear about its value.

The law says we must pay for insurance before taking to the road and yet there is no law stopping companies ripping us off for the privilege.

Any number of excuses have been offered up for why premiums have risen so dramatically in recent years.

The Central Statistics Office puts the average hike at around 35pc, but anecdotally many drivers have been hit with much harsher increases.

The first solution offered up by politicians in this situation is always 'shop around'.

Ireland has a healthy number of insurers but prices are universally on the rise. Ten phone calls or hours on the internet is the difference between being fleeced and massively fleeced.

The industry is suffering from a recession hangover that includes the fallout from the Quinn Insurance bailout and the collapse of Setanta.

Most analysts would agree we were undercharged for years and nobody was complaining. However, the idea that the market is now simply correcting itself is only one reason why insurers say prices are spiralling.

They also point to hefty payouts as more and more injured parties steer clear of the courts and Personal Injuries Assessment Board in search of a higher settlement.

Then there is the reduction in resources for the Garda Traffic Corps which has led some road users to complacency.

Other companies blame low reserves and high legal costs.

Ultimately the answer is probably a mix of all the above and that's why there is merit in the idea of a new task force to investigate these issues.

A review of the industry is already under way in the Department of Finance, but it's not due to be finished until the end of the year and has a limited scope. The re-establishment of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board, which investigated the industry in 2002, could facilitate participation by representatives from all sides of the debate.

Driving a car is a necessity for most people, not an expensive privilege.

Irish Independent

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