Saturday 18 November 2017

No new taskforce on insurance rip-offs despite Dáil backing

Finance Minister Michael Noonan. Picture: Tom Burke
Finance Minister Michael Noonan. Picture: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A new taskforce to investigate the soaring cost of motor insurance premiums will not be set up, despite the passing of a Dáil motion supporting one.

A package of measures aimed at tackling the hikes was widely praised by government and Opposition TDs yesterday - but is likely to amount to nothing.

Fianna Fáil's proposed taskforce would involve representatives of the insurance industry, Central Bank, consumer groups and the departments of finance and enterprise.

However, junior finance minister Eoghan Murphy indicated that officials in his department will continue with a more low-key review that is already underway.

It comes as new Central Statistic Office figures show the annual rate of increase in motor insurance has hit a record 35.5pc in May.

A Fianna Fáil motion sought the re-establishment of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board on a time-limited basis, greater disclosure around policy renewal notifications, action on the settlement of cases and measures to deal with false and exaggerated claims.

It easily passed through the Dáil, but afterwards the party's finance spokesman Michael McGrath accepted that it is up to the Government to decide if any of its recommendations will be acted on.

"The passing of this motion is a very significant development for Irish consumers. It sets out a clear path for tackling this significant issue," he said.

Mr McGrath described the taskforce as a "key" measure to stop the rising prices.

"The onus is now on the Ministers for Finance and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to give effect to the will of the Dáil on this issue and ensure that motorists get a well-deserved break from seemingly relentless increases in motor insurance premiums," he said.

However, during the Dáil debate, Mr Murphy repeatedly pointed to the existing review which was set up by Finance Minister Michael Noonan. He described the review as a "taskforce" but this was rejected by Fianna Fáil who pointed out that this phrase has only been used in the past 48 hours to describe the approach.

"The Government would welcome any discussions on the issues of insurance and the insurance industry in the new Oireachtas finance committee when it is formed, and will look at any legislative proposals that may arise from those discussions," Mr Murphy said.

"The Department of Finance has a taskforce in place which is addressing the issues raised."

Mr Murphy said the review would probe:

the lack of a link between the national car test and the availability of insurance;

insurance costs for the young and those over 65;

the case for rural dwellers with no public transport to have car insurance at a reasonable cost;

the issue of returning immigrants having difficulty obtaining car insurance; and

the cost of insurance to taxi drivers, hackneys and hauliers.

"The Department of Finance is aware that certain groups of people are particularly affected by the increase in insurance costs," Mr Murphy said.

He added that the report submitted by the review group will be carefully considered by Government.

Irish Independent

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