Tuesday 21 May 2019

'Vested interests slowing reform of the sector'

‘Assumed link’: Law Society president Patrick Dorgan
‘Assumed link’: Law Society president Patrick Dorgan
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

An umbrella group for organisations whose members have been hit by spiralling insurance costs says there is serious concern reform is being slowed down due to "a lack of political will and fierce resistance from vested interests".

The Alliance for Insurance Reform also said it was "dismayed" by comments made by Law Society president Patrick Dorgan, who has questioned the "assumed link" between high injury awards and high premiums.

The alliance's members include Isme, RGDATA, the Vintners Federation of Ireland and the Restaurants Association of Ireland.

In a statement, it welcomed a speech made by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Law Society's annual dinner on Friday, in which he said the level of general damages paid for minor injuries needed to be addressed.

In a report last September, the Personal Injuries Commission found the level of general damages for soft-tissue injuries such as whiplash was 4.4 times higher than in England and Wales.

Mr Varadkar said he believed the best way to deal with the disparity was through a judicial council and if the level of damages for soft tissue injuries fell there would be a reduction in premiums.

While welcoming the remarks, the alliance urged the Taoiseach to ensure the reform is carried out "as a matter of urgency".

It also took issue with remarks made by Mr Dorgan at the same event. He said expert research found that when like was compared with like, premiums were higher in the UK than in Ireland.

He argued this demonstrated the assumed direct link between award levels and insurance costs was "highly questionable".

However, the alliance said Mr Dorgan's argument flew in the face of economic logic and "ignored the rollercoaster nature of English premiums".

It said UK premiums were currently high due to the volume of small claims "driven by a parasitic claims management industry".

Irish Independent

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