Saturday 21 April 2018

D'Arcy under fire over slow pace of insurance reforms

Michael D'Arcy has been urged to speed up changes to system
Michael D'Arcy has been urged to speed up changes to system
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

A group set up to demand lower business insurance premiums has criticised the Government minister tasked with reforming the sector.

It comes as the British government said it would set fixed compensation amounts for whiplash claims and require medical evidence before claims are settled.

It is also changing the interest rate used to calculate how much in compensation should be paid by insurers for personal injuries, cutting the size of payments.

After meeting Minister of State with special responsibility for insurance, Michael D'Arcy, the Alliance for Insurance Reform said it was disappointed at the slow pace of change here in the insurance and judicial industries.

Alliance director and Galway businessman Eoin McCambridge said reform was being held back by never-ending consultations and what he called the dead hand of vested interests.

He said the Government promised to identify immediate and longer-term measures which can address increasing costs when it launched the Cost of Insurance Working Group in September 2016.

"We turned up at Government Buildings expecting news on significant actions. What we have got instead is death by a thousand consultations and the dead hand of vested interests," said Mr McCambridge.

He said the hard-pressed motorists, charities, voluntary groups, sports clubs and businesses around the country cannot wait for reform - it must happen now.

Mr McCambridge said the Government has been hoodwinked into believing motor insurance premiums are on the way down.

In reality, they are up 42pc since January 2014, with increasing numbers of young drivers and owners of older cars unable to get insurance at all.

The Alliance urged the Government to follow the UK in drafting laws to curb compensation amounts.

Peter Boland of the Alliance said legal structures in the UK were similar to the Republic, which meant there was no good reason insurance reform could not happen sooner.

Britain plans new laws to cut the number of whiplash claims from car accidents and change the calculation of personal injury payments, a move which should lower costs for insurers and motor premiums for drivers.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil has proposed a private members' motion calling for urgent action to tackle rising business insurance costs.

Finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the premium increases being faced by businesses are not sustainable and has called on the Government to step up efforts to introduce vital reforms.

Charities, community groups and sports clubs are all being affected by escalating costs, he said.

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