Sunday 20 May 2018

Insurers blame big pay-outs for the high cost of motor insurance

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Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

INSURERS have blamed big pay-outs for the high cost of insurance.

It comes as an AA Ireland survey found that the majority of motorists believe that insurance reform has fallen off the Government agenda.

Representative group for the sector, Insurance Ireland, told an Oireachtas committee the cost of settling insurance claims is rising.

In its submission to the Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Insurance Ireland said it was “determined to bring sorely needed reform to Irish claims costs”.

It said the average award in the circuit courts rose from almost €12,000 to €17,700 between 2013 and 2016, a 48pc rise.

There has been a rise in the number of new personal injuries cases submitted to the courts.

And legal series here were 10pc higher than at the start of 2016 than in the first quarter of 2013.

Insurance Ireland said an award for an ankle injury here and in the UK.

In Ireland, an award of up to €54,000 could be gained from a minor ankle injury while in the UK that would be up to €12,554.

Chief executive of Insurance Ireland Kevin Thompson told the committee: “It is our belief that there is a significant opportunity to bring about structural reform in 2018 and all stakeholders should redouble their efforts to ensure this occurs.”

“This is not a victimless crime. When people take these cases it does drive up the cost of insurance.

"Equally, if people perjure themselves on a stand in front of a judge there should be consequences for that action.”

Meanwhile, a majority of motorists believe that the issue of tackling rising motor insurance prices has fallen off the Government’s radar.

In response to a survey of over 4,000 motorists undertaken by AA Car Insurance, 42pc of respondents said that they strongly believe the issue of insurance prices is no longer as important to Government as it was 12 months ago.

AA director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan said: “For consumers the issue of motor insurance prices is still a hot button issue, but it feels like the political interest in finding a solution has declined as a result of other issues coming to the fore.”

He said dealing with Brexit and the housing crisis obviously require a great deal of attention.

But that does not mean the Government can take its eye of the ball in tackling this issue and simply hope people will forget, he said.

He said that in recent months we have seen the Central Statistics Office reporting minor declines in insurance premiums.

But the overwhelming majority of motorists are still paying far more for cover than they were in previous years and some are struggling to cope, Mr Faughnan said.

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