Saturday 21 September 2019

Brokers dismiss claims they are to blame for massive hikes to business premiums as 'absurd'


Stock Image: Bloomberg
Stock Image: Bloomberg
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Insurance brokers have reacted furiously to suggestions they could bear some responsibility for the massive hikes in business premiums.

Brokers Ireland, which represents 1,250 firms, said it is "absurd" to link its members with rising costs.

It comes after the Irish Independent revealed the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is to carry out a major analysis of the market.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys yesterday confirmed that she had asked the CCPC "to bring greater transparency to the market by shining a light on the practices of insurance firms and intermediaries including brokers".

Small and medium-sized businesses have complained that they are being pushed to breaking point because of public liability insurance costs. In many cases, businesses have had no claims but their premiums have jumped regardless.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform welcomed the minister's intervention.

"Our members have struggled to understand how their liability premiums have rocketed in the past five years while there has been no corresponding increase in either claims or awards," alliance director Peter Boland said.

The body said liability policyholders had experienced an average increase of 204pc in their premiums over the past five years.

In a statement, the CCPC said: "This market has national significance and the CCPC looks forward to conducting this market study and contributing to the State's efforts to bring about widely supported change in the sector."

The terms of reference for the review are still being worked out but it is expected an extensive process of engagement with business owners, insurers and brokers will take place.

Ms Humphreys said the issue of insurance for businesses "is a growing concern".

She also noted that concerns had been expressed directly to her on the roles of insurance firms and intermediaries, including brokers, in what, at times, appear to be very sharply increasing levels of public liability insurance premiums.

"There is no silver-bullet solution to this issue but we are committed to ensuring that we are using every lever available to us to ease the pressure on businesses and consumers," the minister said.

Cathie Shannon, of Brokers Ireland, said her members were "as frustrated as their clients on the rising costs".

"The suggestion that insurance brokers are hiking premium prices is nonsensical and has no basis in fact," she said.

Irish Independent

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