Insurers are blaming claimants for declining premiums for a small drop in auto premiums


MORE people are rejecting insurance comparison offers from the State’s Personal Injury Assessment Board in hopes of getting a higher price in court.

Insurance companies claimed that car insurance premiums didn’t fall much more as a result.

Industry lobby group Insurance Ireland told an Oireachtas committee that the low take-up of PIAB settlement offers poses “significant uncertainties” for them.

The industry commented on why premiums haven’t fallen sharply a year after state judges passed personal injury guidelines.

Official statistics show that car premiums fell 11 percent in the year to March, but other forms of insurance have actually become more expensive.

A sharp drop in awards was expected when the Judicial Guidelines on Awards were introduced.

The guidelines recommended reducing premiums for minor injuries by about 50 percent.

It was expected that car premiums would fall by at least 20 percent.

Since the guidelines were introduced last year, Personal Injury Assessment Board (PIAB) premium rates have fallen by an average of 42 percent.

However, the acceptance rate of PIAB assessments has declined from 50 percent to 37 percent as more applicants go to court.

Central bank research has shown that there is little difference between PIAB’s settlement offers and what people get in court.

However, it takes years to obtain a court decision while legal fees are significant.

PIAB is a government agency established to assist in the resolution of personal injury claims without the need for litigation.

Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive of Insurance Ireland, told the Oireachtas Finance Committee: “We are concerned about the declining acceptance rates of PIAB awards by applicants since their inception.

“It’s reasonable to assume that this trend will result in more cases being brought to court,” she added.

Ms Murdock said the Personal Injury Guidelines had the potential to “represent a milestone for the Irish insurance market if applied consistently”.

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty has proposed an amendment to the Judiciary Council’s 2021 bill to force insurers to spell out exactly what premium cuts they’ve made as a result of the lower premium rates.

He accused Insurance Ireland of reaping savings from lower premiums and not passing them on to policyholders.

Peter Boland, director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, told the committee his organization was frustrated by what it described as extremely slow.

This comes at a time when many say high insurance costs are a threat to their business.

The alliance represents charities, businesses and volunteer groups and sports clubs.

He accused insurers of reaping the benefits of lower premium levels and not passing them on to policyholders.

Mr Boland said: “Of all the major challenges Ireland is currently facing, insurance is the one that the government can solve most quickly.

“But the reforms are not moving fast enough.”

A survey of policyholders conducted to mark the first anniversary of the court’s guidelines found that 42 percent of respondents said insurance costs threaten the future of their organization. Almost a third say insurance costs prevent them from providing certain services.

Mr Boland said: “Ultimately, 90 per cent of respondents said the government is not doing enough to address the problem of insurance costs.”

She wants the due diligence requirements of businesses and volunteer groups to be rebalanced.

She also wants PIAB to be reformed.

Legislation to address this problem is slowly moving through pre-legislative scrutiny, it said.

The state must vigorously defend the numerous constitutional challenges to the policies being pursued by the legal profession to protect the revenue streams generated by personal injury litigation, the alliance said. Insurers are blaming claimants for declining premiums for a small drop in auto premiums

Fry Electronics Team

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