Thursday 29 September 2016

Paying a high price for running for cover

Published 01/09/2015 | 02:30

The payouts by our courts are widely seen as being on the high side of generous. It is in the interests of the public that these costs and payouts are reined in.
The payouts by our courts are widely seen as being on the high side of generous. It is in the interests of the public that these costs and payouts are reined in.

It's difficult to argue with the logic of children's author A A Milne's observation on misfortunes: "They're funny things, accidents. You never have them till you're having them," he mused.

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While accidents may often be beyond our scope of immediate control, the bills for them really ought not to be. For many years, this country was said to suffer from what was described as a 'compo culture', where every opportunist saw gold at the bottom of every pothole. Every fall and scrape was seen as an opportunity for enrichment, with little or no thought for the societal cost or who would ultimately pick up the tab.

The advent of the Injuries Board put paid to the worst of this speculating on striking it rich in the injuries lotto.

Of course, there must be a clear distinction between legitimate claims and naked opportunism. Judges do their best to make sure that reason is brought to bear on cases they are dealing with. However, Irish personal-injury awards are well-renowned for their 'generosity'.

Today's revelations that there may be a return to a tendency to go down the litigation route and get a disproportionate return is unwelcome news.

It is equally discouraging that a spiral in the cost of premiums is also taking a heavy toll on the consumer. This, in the main, is being blamed on the insurers for not charging enough in the first place and, in the second, for not setting aside enough in reserves.

Both of these can be dealt with easily enough. Another major factor is the amount charged by lawyers and other experts involved in putting a case together.

The payouts by our courts are widely seen as being on the high side of generous. It is in the interests of the public that these costs and payouts are reined in.

Ultimately, the bill is passed on and drivers and all those who pay for insurance take the hit.

Irish Independent

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