Thursday 23 May 2019

Government under fire over efforts to tackle insurance crisis as EU opens probe

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

The government has been accused in the Dáil of dragging its heels in tackling the insurance crisis after the European Commission launched an investigation into industry practices here.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Government has done little to address rising insurance premiums.

“It beggars belief that it has taken for the European Commission to step in here,” she said.

“It is clear the kid gloves approach of Government towards the insurance industry has not worked and must not last.”

Ms McDonald said she welcomed the intervention of the European Commission after it confirmed yesterday that it has opened a formal competition investigation into industry representative body Insurance Ireland over claims of anti-competitive behaviour. She said further legislation is needed to protect consumers.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar insisted the Government has been pro-active in tackling crippling insurance costs.

He conceded these costs have an impact on families and businesses but they were being challenged with new legislation.

“Insurance costs in Ireland are very high,” he said.

“Government doesn’t set the premiums, that is a private industry.

“We have seen some progress, motor insurance is down 20pc from peak and it must continue to drop. Health insurance is stabilising.

“So far this year we have passed three new laws around insurance but it will take time before the effect of those three laws is seen in premiums.”

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