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PRESS RELEASE 03/10/2018

ALLIANCE WELCOMES PROGRESS OF INSURANCE FRAUD BILL

URGES SPEEDY PASSING INTO LAW

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed the passing through Second Stage in the Dáil last night of the Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill 2018, sponsored by Billy Kelleher TD. The bill was unopposed by the Government and received widespread support from other parties and independents.

The Bill seeks to automatically refer fraudulent and exaggerated personal injury clamisters for potential prosecution, rather than the current situation, where cases may be dismissed but they walk away sanction-free.

Eoin McCambridge, Director of the Alliance commented “We welcome the rapid progress this Bill is making. This amendment is a central measure among our 10 Asks to help reduce insurance costs and there is no reason why this short, practical Bill cannot be enacted quickly. We call on the Government and the Oireachtas Justice Committee to insure this happens”.

ENDS

For further details contact: contact@insurancereform.ie

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PRESS RELEASE 01/10/2018

ALLIANCE WELCOMES STATEMENT FROM CHIEF JUSTICE

WARNS AGAINST EFFORTS TO UNDERMINE PIC REPORT

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed the publication by the Chief Justice of his “Statement on the occasion of the Opening of the New Legal Year”.

Eoin McCambridge, Director of the Alliance commented “We welcome the statement from the Chief Justice and in particular his engagement on the issues of consistency and the proper calibration of the overall level of injury awards. We look forward to seeing urgent progress on these critical issues and all the other recommendations of the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) Final Report and hope that efforts by some in legal circles to undermine the PIC Report in recent days will not be successful. Too often we get what looks like a positive report that is then undermined by vested interests. The Law Society signed up to the PIC and efforts to backslide must be resisted.

“The Alliance supports the absolute right of those injured due to someone else’s negligence to be compensated. However the untrammelled pursuit of personal injury claims in sometimes dubious circumstances and the unprecedented levels of cash being awarded, are causing severe damage to Irish society and urgent action is needed to address this.”

Peter Boland of the Alliance said “The Alliance has a list of 10 Asks which are feasible, achievable within a limited timeframe and will ultimately be effective in addressing our insurance crisis. These include measures to achieve consistency in the calculation of personal injury awards at realistic and sustainable levels within the jurisdiction and by international norms, such as changing our approach to calculating the Book of Quantum and requiring judges who award damages in excess of the Book of Quantum to set out a detailed reasoning for doing so.”

ENDS

Key statistical findings in the PIC report included:

Irish awards for soft tissue (primarily whiplash) injuries average €19,862

(among claims up to €100,000, general damages only)

Comparable UK average €3,798

So Irish awards are up to 5 time higher than our nearest neighbour.

Comparisons with other jurisdictions for Minor* Soft Tissue (Whiplash) Injury Awards

Canada: capped at €2,315

Germany: up to €1,125

South Australia ‘Unlikely to qualify for compensation’

Sweden: less severe whiplash injuries do not receive compensation

NOTE: *Minor – a full recovery expected

For further details contact: contact@insurancereform.ie

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PRESS RELEASE 18/09/2018

ALLIANCE WELCOMES PERSONAL INJURIES COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS

DEMANDS URGENT IMPLEMENTATION BY GOVERNMENT

 

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed the publication today of the final report of the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) chaired by Justice Nicholas Kearns, but demanded immediate action from Government on the recommendations in the report.

Eoin McCambridge, Director of the Alliance commented “We welcome the publication of the PIC Final Report. The acknowledgement by the Personal Injuries Commission that the level of general damages paid in Ireland is unsustainable and needs to be changed urgently is very welcome. The Commission makes some very practical recommendations that correspond clearly with the Alliance’s 10 Asks. It is now up to Government to implement a specific Action Plan with clear timelines, to which the people responsible are held to account. Kicking the can down the road is no longer an option. We cannot afford to let this happen with this important report published today”.

Key recommendations in the report which back up the Alliance’s 10 Asks include:

  • Urgent overhaul of the award levels in the Book of Quantum, to insure consistency between judges and with international norms, taking account of “the jurisprudence of the Court of Appeal, the results of the PIC benchmarking exercise, the WAD scale (Whiplash Associated Disorder scale as established by the Quebec Task Force) and any other factors (considered) relevant”
  • “Claimants for their part must give prompt notification of any potential injury claim so that a proper investigation of the accident circumstances may be undertaken by a defendant” so for example, before CCTV evidence is lost after 1 month to comply with data protection legislation.
  • “the establishment of an Irish Garda Fraud Investigation Bureau along the lines of the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department [IFED] in the UK without further delay”.

The Commission states that the current crisis  “calls for a response that is effective and achievable in the shortest possible time”.  Additionally, it notes that “Irish society is presented now with an important opportunity to consider an appropriate rebalancing and recalibration of Irish awards, both in the context of their relative values to each other and comparatively to other jurisdictions”.

Peter Boland of the Alliance commented that “the insurance issue is a crisis right now for Irish charities, voluntary groups, sports organisations, businesses and motorists and only action right now will solve it. Indeed it is the pace of real progress that is key. In particular, the sole response of the CIWG to the unsustainable level of damages in personal injury cases up to now, has been to hand it to the Law Reform Commission for review in a process that will take up to 5 years. Many of the organisations we represent will not be around for the results of that review. So the recommendations of the PIC must be reviewed as a matter of urgency and an urgent solution to this problem implemented.”

ENDS

Key statistical findings in the report include:

  • Irish soft tissue injury average €19,862 (among claims up to €100,000, general damages only)
  • Comparable UK average €3,798
  • So Irish awards 5 time higher
  • Comparisons with other jurisdictions for Minor* Soft Tissue (Whiplash) Injury Awards
    • Canada: capped at €2,315
    • Germany: up to €1,125
    • South Australia ‘Unlikely to qualify for compensation’
    • Sweden: less severe whiplash injuries do not receive compensation

NOTE: *Minor – a full recovery expected

 

For further details contact: CONTACT@INSURANCEREFORM.IE

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 14/09/2018

PRIME TIME REVELATIONS ‘THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG’

GOVERNMENT KNOWS WHAT TO DO TO SOLVE PROBLEM

 

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has reacted strongly to the pattern of fraudulent claims and their consequences revealed in last night’s Prime Time report on RTE television. The programme illustrated examples of:

  • falls being staged and injuries being exaggerated
  • fraudulent claimants walking away without any sanction or any real possibility of a sanction
  • community facilities successfully defending claims but being hammered with legal costs
  • insurance companies settling clearly exaggerated claims without telling the policyholder
  • insurance companies hiking premiums even where claims were proven to be fraudulent
  • community facilities and businesses threatened with closure due to spiralling insurance premiums

Commenting on the programme, Eoin McCambridge, director of the Alliance said “While it is shocking and upsetting to see how community facilities and small businesses are being besieged by fraudulent claims and then penalised even when they win, we at the Alliance are not in the least bit surprised by the content of last night’s report. Indeed the scandalous behaviour on show is just the tip of the iceberg.  Our 37,000 member organisations are constantly feeding us back stories of the relentless nature of fraudulent insurance claims in our country. But most of them are afraid to go public for fear of encouraging copycat claims, of data protection issues, of potential reputational damage or indeed of losing the only underwriter available to them.”

Peter Boland of the Alliance said “This crisis has been analysed inside out and everyone is clear at this stage about how to resolve it. We have submitted ’10 Asks’ to the Minister responsible, Minister of State Michael D’Arcy, which we know will help address the issue quickly. In the area of fraudulent claims, we want the following implemented immediately:

  1. Establish the Garda Insurance Fraud Unit
  2. Amend Section 8 of the Civil Liability Act 2004 to make it mandatory to report alleged accidents within 1 month of their happening
  3. Link Sections 26 and 25 of the Civil Liability Act 2004 so that exaggerated and misleading claims are automatically forwarded to the Gardai for investigation and prosecution
  4. Regulate claims management companies (claims harvesters), which are effectively completely unregulated at present

“The time for action is right now because the insurance crisis is affecting Irish charities, sports clubs, festivals, voluntary groups, playgrounds, local authorities and businesses right now.  If the pace of real reform does not pick up this winter, then real damage will be done to the fabric of Irish society.”

ENDS

For further details contact: contact@insurancereform.ie

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/09/2018

ALLIANCE INSISTS ON REAL ACTION FROM CIWG

45% OF REAL ACTIONS IN WORKING GROUP PLANS NOW DELAYED

 The Government’s Cost of Insurance Working Group has just released another quarterly update and the Alliance for Insurance Reform has carried out a full analysis of the Working Group’s progress as outlined in that update. Key facts include:

  • Of the 100 ‘actions’ listed by the CIWG, 29 are real actions that could have a real impact on insurance costs
  • The balance of 71 are process actions: meetings, reports, liaisons, reviews, consultations, forming committees. While these are necessary, they will not in themselves achieve anything
  • However, of the real actions, only 8 have been completed (28%) and many of these have been deemed ineffectual, including the Insurers Large Increases Protocol and the Returning Emigrants Protocol.
  • Of the total of 29 real actions, 13 have been delayed (45%)
  • The key real actions delayed include:
    • Garda Insurance Fraud Unit – the CIWG Update says that “there are a number of serious issues which will require further consideration before any decision whether or not to proceed in this manner is taken
    • the production of a protocol obliging insurers to communicate with their customers on claims made against them, before settlement
    • National Claims Information Database
    • new rules to oblige insurers to provide addition information on premium breakdowns
    • extending the current policy renewal notification period from 15 to 20 working days
    • establishment of a National Insurance Industry Fraud Database, delayed due to data protection concerns
    • Uninsured Drivers Database for use by An Garda Siochana. Well advanced according to the update, but awaiting ‘go-live’ date.
  • Also, while the Personal Injuries Commission 2nd and Final Reports have been submitted to Government (so that is an action completed) they have not as yet been published.

Commenting on the CIWG update and the Alliance analysis of it, Eoin McCambridge, director of the Alliance said “It is clear that the work of the CIWG so far has been skewed towards processes rather than real action.  Right now is the time for real action because the insurance crisis is affecting Irish charities, sports clubs, festivals, voluntary groups, playgrounds, local authorities and businesses right now.  If the pace of real reform does not pick up this autumn, then real damage will be done to the fabric of Irish society.”

ENDS

For further details contact:

contact@insurancereform.ie

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PRESS RELEASE 14/08/2018

ALLIANCE WELCOMES PUBLICATION OF PIAB AMENDMENT BILL

RAPID AND DETAILED SCRUTINY OF PROPOSED AMENDMENTS REQUIRED

 

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed the long-awaited publication of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018.

Alliance director Eoin McCambridge said “The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) is a key part of the personal injury infrastructure in Ireland that has been continually undermined and sidelined by the legal profession since its establishment. Amendments to the Act which established the Board are clearly needed and in that regard we welcome this Bill.

“However the Amendment Bill will need significant scrutiny before being enacted. In particular, it takes no account of recent decisions by the Court of Appeal or the recommendations of the (as yet unpublished) final report of the Personal Injuries Commission with regard to the Book of Quantum. The amendment as it stands would continue the endless cycle of spiralling personal injury costs through the Book of Quantum, but accelerated by updates every 3 years.

“Additionally, the amendment meant to oblige a plaintiff to undertake a medical examination prior to PIAB issuing an assessment has been neutered. The original proposal from last year was that if a plaintiff refused to submit to a medical examination, then a judge shall take this into account when reaching a decision, if the claim went to court. The revised amendment only asks that a judge may take this refusal into account when determining costs. We know well from past experience that such a watery requirement will seldom if ever be used.

“Finally, we note that Section 13 of the amendment bill allows the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to raid the cash reserves of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board as the Minister sees fit. This is a worrying development as it potentially removes a degree of independence from the Board and much of the opportunity the Board has to develop its abilities in areas such as fraud detection or database development.”

“With these reservations in mind, we ask the Minister to ensure a swift and practical assessment of the Bill and speedy passage of the final Bill into law to help the fight against spiralling insurance premiums driven in part by personal injury awards and costs”.

ENDS

NOTE: The Personal Injuries Commission was established on the recommendation of the Government’s Cost of Insurance Working Group in February 2017. Chaired by Justice Nicholas Kearns, the PIC was tasked with examining, benchmarking and making recommendations with regard to the reform of the Personal Injury system in Ireland. It has already published its First Report which reviews the personal injury assessment systems in other jurisdictions and makes recommendations based on this review.

The Second and Third (Final) Reports, currently with the Government but unpublished and widely leaked, are expected to make a series of recommendations on alternative personal injury processes, resolution models and compensation models based on international benchmarking.

For further details contact: contact@insurancereform.ie

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PRESS RELEASE 28/07/2018

ALLIANCE WELCOMES PERSONAL INJURIES COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS

DEMANDS URGENT IMPLEMENTATION BY GOVERNMENT

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed insights into the final report of the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) published in an article in the Irish Independent this morning.

According to the article, the PIC Final Report acknowledges that:

  • personal injury payments in Ireland are among the highest in the world
  • there is a lack of consistency in the amounts awarded in court for the same injury
  • fraudulent and exaggerated claims “carry a low risk of detection and ‘an even lower risk of prosecution'”
  • investigation of such claims is poor

It recommends a broad range of reforms, including:

  • That judges should compile new guidelines on appropriate compensation levels in line with lower amounts paid in other countries and taking account of Court of Appeal decisions that have lowered awards made in the Circuit and High Courts
  • “No payouts should be made by insurers unless a medical report has been produced”
  • “Anyone making a claim must promptly notify the insurer so it can be investigated, before the likes of CCTV evidence is destroyed”
  • The establishment of the new Garda Insurance Fraud Unit
  • A medical study on the prevention and management of whiplash injuries, most of which are, according to The Irish College of General Practitioners “frankly spurious”
  • That insurers should beef up their anti-fraud capacity

Commenting on the article, Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform said, “On the basis of this article we welcome the PIC Report which appears to make very practical recommendations that correspond very clearly with the Alliance’s 10 Asks . They are all capable of being put in place quickly and many will have an immediate impact. It is now up to the Government to ensure that the Report’s recommendations are implemented urgently because the insurance issue is a crisis right now for Irish charities, voluntary groups, sports organisations, businesses and motorists and only action right now will solve it. While many of the PIC recommendations are already being considered by government, it is the pace of real progress that is key.

“We note that according to the article, the impact on insurance costs of sky-high legal fees and special damages are not covered in the PIC report but overall, this looks like a practical report that deserves urgent attention.”

Finally, Eoin McCambridge of the Alliance repeated his request that the PIC Final Report be published in full immediately. Said McCambridge, ” While we welcome this insight into the Report, the Alliance repeats its call for the final report of the Personal Injuries Commission to be published immediately in an effort to avoid its full conclusions being misinterpreted; or for partial publication to damage its final recommendations.

“The content of the report will not be changed by reviewing it and even if the Government cannot decide its response for some weeks, the report should be published immediately. Failure to publish just means more delays in a process that has seen too many delays already.”

ENDS

NOTE: The Personal Injuries Commission was established on the recommendation of the Government’s Cost of Insurance Working Group in February 2017. Chaired by Justice Nicholas Kearns, the PIC was tasked with examining, benchmarking and making recommendations with regard to the reform of the Personal Injury system in Ireland. In December 2017 it published its First Report which reviewed the personal injury assessment systems in other jurisdictions and made recommendations based on this review.

The Second and Third (Final) Reports have been completed and are currently with Government waiting to be officially published.

For further details contact: contact@insurancereform.ie

PRESS RELEASE 24/07/2018

ALLIANCE CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION OF FINAL PIC REPORT

VESTED INTERESTS DRIP-LEAKING TO SUIT OWN AGENDAS

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has called for the final report of the Personal Injuries Commission to be published immediately in an effort to avoid it being drip-leaked by vested interests intent on spinning the information contained in it or even damaging its final recommendations.

Alliance director Eoin McCambridge said “We understand from media coverage that the PIC’s final report is completed, but all we have seen so far are snippets leaked by vested interests to promote their position. The insurance elites – the lawyers, medics and insurance companies – have all received copies of the report but as it stands, policyholders will not get to see it until after the government considers it, reportedly ‘in August/September’. However we believe that the government is meeting this week and next week; and so in order to prevent this important initiative being damaged through selective leaking, we ask that the report be released now.

“The content of the report will not be changed by reviewing it and even if the government cannot decide its response for some weeks, the report should be published immediately. Failure to publish just means more delays in a process that has seen too many delays already.”

ENDS

NOTE: The Personal Injuries Commission was established on the recommendation of the Government’s Cost of Insurance Working Group in February 2017. Chaired by Justice Nicholas Kearns, the PIC was tasked with examining, benchmarking and making recommendations with regard to the reform of the Personal Injury system in Ireland. It has already published its First Report which reviews the personal injury assessment systems in other jurisdictions and makes recommendations based on this review.

The Second and Third (Final) Reports are expected to make a series of recommendations on alternative personal injury processes, resolution models and compensation models based on international benchmarking.

For further details contact:

contact@insurancereform.ie

PRESS RELEASE 12/07/2018

ALLIANCE WELCOMES PUBLICATION OF INSURANCE DATA BILL

INSISTS ANALYSIS OF DATA BE TAKEN FROM CENTRAL BANK

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed the publication by the Government of the Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Bill 2018.

Eoin McCambridge of the Alliance commented “this Bill addresses the critical issue of transparency in the insurance industry. There is no data available on the industry right now so real oversight of this critical sector of the Irish economy is not currently possible.

“While we welcome the Bill, we reject in the strongest possible terms, the proposal that the study and publication of the data be the responsibility of the Central Bank. The Central Bank have a responsibility to ensure the good health of insurance companies and this conflicts directly with their consumer protection responsibilities. So we propose that the study and publication of the data be  handed to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board to do so on behalf of consumers.

“This strategy was backed by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation in their Report on the Cost of Doing Business, published yesterday, when they recommended that ‘The Department of Finance and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation examine the feasibility of the consumer protection function of the insurance market being transferred away from the Central Bank to another body’.

“Additionally, we insist that the data produced include public and employer liability data from Day 1 as this is where the bulk of damaging increases are happening right now.

“And finally, the Central Bank published company-by-company data on the industry up to the end of 2015 in the form of the Blue Book. This was a very useful way for policyholders to monitor what was going on in the industry, but the Central Bank shelved it. While EU data provisions have changed in the meantime, it is well within the Central Bank’s capability to reinstate the Blue Book in a slightly different format; and given that there has not been any data oversight of the industry for 3 years now and that the new National Claims Information Database will not be providing comparable data until 2021, we are facing into 6 years of no monitoring of insurers if nothing is done now.”

ENDS

For further details contact:

contact@insurancereform.ie

11/07/2018

ALLIANCE WELCOMES COMMITTEE REPORT, LOOKS FOR URGENCY

OIREACHTAS BUSINESS COMMITTEE MAKES 7 RECOMMENDATIONS ON INSURANCE

 

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed the strong cross-party support for insurance reform evident in today’s Report on the Cost of Doing Business from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Speaking at the launch, Peter Boland of the Alliance commented “It is clear from this report that the Oireachtas recognises the need for reform of the insurance market and we acknowledge the extent to which the Committee took on board the Alliance’s 10 Asks in framing its report.

“Additionally, we welcome the innovative thinking is recommendations like the proposal that ‘The feasibility of the consumer protection function of the insurance market being transferred away from the Central Bank to another body’ be examined.

“What is critical now is that these practical recommendations are followed up on and actioned quickly for the sake of our members who are struggling to pay their insurance premiums or in some cases, to even get quote, right now”.

The seven recommendations from the report specifically relating to insurance are:

  1. Where an award exceeds the Book of Quantum, that the judge give a written explanation as to why
  2. The Government examines the feasibility of introducing an updated law in relation to the offence of perjury
  3. The establishment of a Garda insurance fraud unit
  4. The Civil Liability & Courts Act 2004 be examined by the Department of Justice and Equality to address fraudulent evidence being presented in Court and no further action being taken for the presentation of such evidence.
  5. The Department of Finance and The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation examine the feasibility of the consumer protection function of the insurance market being transferred away from the Central Bank to another body.
  6. ‘An earlier notification time of claims to the defendant because the Committee believes it is vital that early notification is given to allow the full facts of a case to come to light’.
  7. A new code of conduct be put in place by the insurance industry that would put the policyholder at the centre of the process.

ENDS

For further information contact:

contact@insurancereform.ie

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09/07/2018

ALLIANCE RESPONDS TO OBJECTIONS TO NEW GARDA FRAUD UNIT

GARDA UNIT BEING ESTABLISHED TO PROTECT EMBATTLED POLICY HOLDERS

 

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has expressed serious concern at two late interventions regarding plans to establish a Garda Insurance Fraud Unit, funding for which was announced last week by Insurance Ireland.

Peter Boland of the Alliance commented “There is widespread political support across the Oireachtas for reform which will lower insurance costs and this initiative was an early recommendation from the Cost of Insurance Working Group.  It is embattled policyholders who will benefit from the work of the Unit, as they are the ones paying the insurers, the lawyers and everyone else making money from the current crisis.

“We fully agree, indeed would insist, that the insurance industry should have no operational involvement in this unit as its independence is critical. But funding of Garda activity by private enterprise happens all the time. For example, the promoters of every major festival and sporting event in the country fund Garda supervision of their events. This does not mean that they control the Gardai.

“The pursuit of fraud and in particular insurance fraud, has been down the list of policing priorities for too long and if we are to see any rapid, real improvement in the lot of the small businesses, charities, voluntary groups and sports clubs currently being affected by unsustainable insurance premiums, this unit is one of the initiatives that is critical.

“Proposals for this unit have been in the public domain for 18 months now and we would urge all those with concerns to review the model used by the City of London Police on which these proposals are based and come back with informed and balanced opinion. We are particularly concerned that the rights of embattled policyholders are being shoved to one side in recent interventions”.

On 4th July, the Alliance for Insurance Reform welcomed the long-awaited confirmation from Insurance Ireland that they will fund the establishment of a new Garda Insurance Fraud Unit. The setting up of the unit is something the Alliance has been calling for to help prevent exaggerated and misleading claims being pursued and settled.

ENDS

For further information contact:

contact@insurancereform.ie

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PRESS RELEASE 04/07/2018

Fianna Fáil introduces another key Insurance Reform Bill

Move heaps further pressure on Government

In a move certain to heap additional pressure on the Government regarding insurance reform, Deputy Michael McGrath (FF) has this afternoon introduced the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Bill 2018, a private members bill which provides that where a personal injuries claimant refuses to cooperate with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board by not attending a medical assessment, then if the case subsequently goes to court, the judge shall take this refusal into account and may determine that no costs be awarded in the case.

The Bill also addresses situations where plaintiffs refuse to give PIAB details of special damages being sought and provides for the revision, both upwards and crucially, downwards, of the Book of Quantum every three years. It mirrors reforms promised in the Government’s own Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Bill which was published in June 2017 but has not been heard of since.

Speaking on the introduction of his Bill, Deputy McGrath stated that the actions coming out of the Government’s Cost of Insurance Working Group so far are “not substantial in nature” and went on to list a litany of meaningful reforms promised by the CIWG that have been either delayed or stalled.

Speaking on behalf of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, Eoin McCambridge, Managing Director of McCambridge’s of Galway said “we fully endorse Deputy McGrath’s bill, and in the absence of the Government’s own PIAB Amendment Bill, which was first published a full year ago, we would ask the Oireachtas to support it.”

The Bill was not opposed and will now move to Second Stage.

This Bill follows up on one introduced by Deputy Billy Kelleher (FF) on the 20th June. The Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill 2018 provides that where a court dismisses a case on the basis that it is a fraudulent action, the court must refer the matter to the DPP.

ENDS

For further information contact:

contact@insurancereform.ie 

ALLIANCE FOR INSURANCE REFORM

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04/07/2018

Garda Insurance Fraud Unit Gets Funding Thumbs-Up

Alliance for Insurance Reform Demands Early Launch

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed the long-awaited confirmation from Insurance Ireland that they will fund the establishment of a new Garda Insurance Fraud Unit. The setting up of the unit is something the Alliance has been calling for to help prevent exaggerated and misleading claims being pursued and settled.

Commenting on the announcement, Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform said ‘This is great news for anyone concerned about the scale and impact of fraudulent and exaggerated personal injury claims in Ireland. In particular, we note that the new fraud group will be funded by insurers but will be operationally independent of them. This is right and proper and will mean that there should be no barriers to the urgent establishment of the unit.

Boland further commented “There are a number of steps that are now required to ensure that the Unit is up and running as quickly as possible. Firstly, Insurance Ireland have said that all insurers writing insurance in Ireland should contribute, not just members of the industry lobby group. This is fair enough but negotiations should not be allowed to drag on in this regard. The cost-benefit analysis of this proposal by Insurance Ireland took over half a year and further delays cannot be tolerated by anyone suffering from sky-high insurance premiums or targeted by fraudulent insurance claimsters.

“Secondly, we need rapid enactment of the private members’ bill currently being pursued in the Dáil by Deputy Billy Kelleher TD.  This requires that where a personal injury case is dismissed as exaggerated or misleading by the courts, that the courts shall send the transcript of the case and any relevant evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“Thirdly, we expect insurers to actively refer fraudulent claimsters to the new unit. The vast majority of personal injury claims never make it to court because most insurers settle before they get there, on the basis that it would cost more to pursue than to settle. This policy needs to change so that more insurers stand up to fraudsters on behalf of their customers and society.

“Finally and most importantly, we need political will from the current Government. The Minister with responsibility for insurance, Michael D’Arcy TD, said at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance on the 29th May that the Garda Insurance Fraud Unit is ‘a matter for the Gardai’.  However the Alliance understand that the Gardai are ready for this and have the human resources to do it. Now that the finances are in place, it is up to the Government to ensure that there is a specific, urgent timeline established to quickly get the unit up and running in order to place a serious deterrent in the way of heedless claimsters, on behalf of Irish policyholders and society as a whole.”

ENDS

Further information from:

ALLIANCE FOR INSURANCE REFORM

peter@insurancereform.ie

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PRESS RELEASE
Fianna Fáil introduce key insurance reform Bill
Move heaps additional pressure on Government

In a move certain to heap additional pressure on the Government regarding insurance reform, Deputy Billy Kelleher (FF) has this afternoon introduced the Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill 2018, a private members bill which provides that where a court dismisses a case on the basis that it is a fraudulent action, the court must refer the matter to the DPP.

The move follows the declaration by Michael McGrath, Fianna Fáil’s Finance Spokesperson on Morning Ireland earlier today that Insurance will be a key issue for Fianna Fáil along with Housing and Health in the run up to the next Budget.

Commenting on the move, Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform said “This Amendment addresses a key Ask of the Alliance in that it provides the opportunity to sanction those who bring the personal injuries system into disrepute with fraudulent, exaggerated and misleading claims and we urge the Government to facilitate this Bill.”

Boland continued, “Despite intense activity, real reform in the insurance area has been impossibly slow. Charities, voluntary groups, sports clubs and employers are under untold pressure from unsustainable insurance costs right now and any delays on reform will lead to job losses and the shrinking of Irish society.”

ENDS

The 10 Asks of the Alliance for Insurance Reform are HERE

For further information, contact:
peter@insurancereform.ie

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18/06/2018

Demands for immediate action on insurance costs at Gorey meeting

Minister D’Arcy asked what is actually being done to avert crisis

 

A public meeting on Friday night in the Amber Springs Hotel in Gorey heard that the insurance crisis is hitting sectors as diverse as motorsport, kids’ play centres, grocery stores and road hauliers.

As well as a significant attendance from Wexford, attendees came from as far away as Galway and Navan. Attendee after attendee outlined how their insurance costs have sky-rocketed over the last 3 to  5 years and how this was endangering the future of their business or voluntary group.

Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform reported to the meeting that Of the 48 ‘actions’ heralded in the Minister’s latest cost of Insurance Working Group  update, 8 are reviews, 8 are consultations and 6 are reports. Many of the rest are meetings, proposals or ‘requests for consideration’.

Boland said ‘We call on the Minister to accelerate the pace at which real reform happens. Otherwise he will be presiding over a situation where many small businesses, charities, voluntary groups and festivals won’t be around by the time the promised real reforms happen.’

It was agreed at the meeting that the attendees will contact Minister D’Arcy, who did not attend, to express their frustration at the current pace of reform.

 

The following letter was subsequently sent to the Minister by Linda Murray, a business owner from Navan, co Meath:

Good morning Minister Darcy,

My name is Linda Murray and I am from Navan in Co Meath where I have two businesses in the leisure sector and almost 30 employees. I want to write and express my utmost concern for my two businesses which are threatened to close because of my insurance premiums. In one of my centres my insurance was €2.5k 5 years ago, this week I am being forced to pay €16k. I have needed to get a bank loan for that as I cannot afford it. In order to pay the loan I’ve had to let one staff member go and another will lose hours.
In our other centre our insurance has been €7.5k for 9 years, this year with no claims it rose to €15k. This is not sustainable. I was very much looking forward to meeting you last night at the Alliance for Insurance reform in the Amber Springs Hotel which is why my husband and I packed our two young kids in the car and drove to Wexford. You didn’t turn up after being invited. Can I please ask what you are doing about this and also why you didn’t come to such an important meeting? Half the people there last night were from your constituency! Surely that was worth being there for. Apart from the various reports that we keep getting told about what IS being done? What’s the delay of the Garda Fraud Unit? What’s being done to stop the massive pay outs that judges are awarding? We now have 22 groups represented in our Alliance for Insurance Group totalling 645,000 employees! That’s way too high a number to not take all of this very seriously.

I await your reply with anticipation.

Kind Regards,

Linda Murray

___________________________________________________

 29/05/2018

 

NEW GARDA FRAUD UNIT ABANDONED BY GOVERNMENT

ALLIANCE FURY AS KEY REFORM EFFECTIVELY SHELVED

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has responded angrily to the revelation that the promised Garda Insurance Fraud Unit has been effectively abandoned by the Government’s Cost of Insurance Working Group.

Speaking at this evening’s Oireachtas Joint Committee On Finance,  Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for Insurance,  Michael D’Arcy TD,  said that the Garda Insurance Fraud Unit is ‘a matter for the Gardai’.  Citing potential issues with Garda resources, he continued  ‘I don’t have any authority to instruct the Garda Commissioner’ to set up the Unit.

Responding to further questioning by the Committee, Minister D’Arcy said that ‘Personally, I’m in two minds but my opinion doesn’t matter. It is up to the Garda Commissioner’  to make the decision to set up the Unit and that this is ‘Not a matter for the Acting Commissioner, it is up to the incoming Commissioner’.

Responding to this, Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform said “This is a bombshell. This key measure has been on the agenda since Day One of the CIWG. Why has the CIWG been working on it for 18 months if it is now going to be shelved? The Minister is abdicating responsibility for a cornerstone of his own reforms. This does not auger well for the rest of the promised actions.

“Additionally, the whole point of this unit being funded by the insurance industry was that it wouldn’t  be a drain on Garda resources.”

The minister also confirmed that the key National Claims Information Database would not be operational until 2019.

Commented Boland “This means that we won’t have any useable data on the insurance industry until 2020 at the earliest, which means that the industry will have had a holiday from any data oversight  for a minimum of five years. Five years unsupervised is a very long time for such an important industry and this further emphasises the importance of reinstating and enhancing the Blue Book in the meantime.”

Finally, Boland commented that “of the 48 ‘actions’ heralded in the minister’s speech tonight, 8 are reviews, 8 are consultations and 6 are reports. Many of the rest are meetings, proposals and requests for consideration.

“This is not progress and we are not seeing any positive effects of those actions in our members’  premiums”.

ENDS

For further information contact:

Peter Boland, peter@insurancereform.ie

____________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 17/05/2018

INSURANCE REFORM GROUP DEMANDS TRANSPARENCY FROM INSURERS

LATEST REVELATIONS SHOW INDUSTRY HAS SERIOUS QUESTIONS TO ANSWER ABOUT ITS ROLE IN INSURANCE CRISIS

Following on from the latest revelations about the European Commission’s investigations into the Irish insurance industry, the Alliance for Insurance Reform has demanded real transparency to be imposed on the industry.

Commenting on the latest revelations, Peter Boland, spokesperson for the Alliance for Insurance Reform said,  “These latest allegations regarding restricted access to the Irish insurance market are shocking but not surprising.  Our members have suspected as much and have been paying the price for years. It is remarkable that such a valuable market, worth over €2bn, is controlled by so few underwriters with 90% of the motor insurance market controlled by 6 companies and 80% of business insurance controlled by 6 also.

“Today’s reports further highlight the urgent need for transparency in this market.  We fully understand why insurers would prefer to operate under a cloak of secrecy but this industry is too important to Irish society and has too many mandatory elements to it, to be allowed continue to operate in this cavalier fashion.  Right now the industry in putting up fierce resistance to any elements of the new National Claims Information Database that would shed some light on their practices, while happily cherry-picking the elements of the new database that will reduce their costs.

“Equally, the Central Bank, which is supposed to be supervising the insurers on behalf of consumers, is actually doing the opposite, having abolished the only data that offered some insight into the industry, the so-called ‘Blue Book’ so that there is now no usable data available on the industry.

“We call on the minister responsible, Michael Darcy, to protect the new National Claims Information Database  from the influence of vested interests. Additionally, we demand that control of analysis and reporting of the National Claims Information Database be given to the neutral Personal Injuries Assessment Board rather than the Central Bank, which is now hopelessly compromised. And finally,  we insist that the Blue Book be immediately reinstated and enhanced to restore the only transparency there previously was in the market before the Central Bank discontinued it in 2016.”

ENDS

For further information contact:

Peter Boland at peter@insurancereform.ie

___________________________________________________

PRESS RELEASE 14/05/2018

GOVERNMENT INSURANCE REFORM GOES INTO REVERSE

ALLIANCE FOR INSURANCE REFORM CALLS FOR INJECTION OF URGENCY AT CIWG

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has called for the Government to inject a sense of urgency into the work of their Cost of Insurance Working Group after the CIWG’s fifth update, quietly slipped out last Friday evening, chronicled a litany of missed opportunities and inaction.

Peter Boland of the Alliance commented “The Cost of Insurance Working Group is the government’s flagship response to the insurance crisis affecting charities, voluntary groups, sports organisations, small businesses and motorists nationally. Unfortunately, it has gone into reverse, with real reform being replaced by a never-ending series of consultations, reports and reviews. Of the 48 ‘actions’ heralded in Friday’s update, 8 are reviews, 8 are consultations and 6 are reports. Many of the rest are meetings, proposals and ‘requests for consideration’.

“The real reforms in the Report have stalled. There has been no progress for 6 months now on the proposed Garda Insurance Fraud Unit; the protocol requiring insurance companies to notify policyholders of the progress of claims made against them has stalled; and legislation compelling insurance companies to communicate the reason for large premium increases has been abandoned.

“While the CIWG runs out of steam, the Central Bank has axed the Blue Book, the only data that was available to provide some transparency to this industry; and Minister Heather Humphreys plans to appoint a personal injuries lawyer to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board – effectively throwing a fox into the chicken coop.”

ISME reported earlier in May that 84% of SMEs are reporting an increase in their business insurance premiums and 83% are experiencing increased motor insurance premiums.  Ireland Underground, an online forum for young drivers, are saying that younger drivers are not seeing any reductions in their premiums and older cars still cannot get quotes.

“So while the talk from Government is of actions and reforms, their actions suggests less transparency, no reform and the increased facilitation of vested interests.

“We call on the Government to an give injection of urgency to the CIWG and demonstrate that they have the political will to drive reform. This is a matter of real urgency for the thousands of organisations around the country dreading their next renewal.”

ENDS

___________________________________________________

Thursday 03/05/2018

INSURANCE REFORM GROUP DEMANDS THAT SUSPECT CLAIMANTS BE PROSECUTED

MINISTER CALLED ON TO ACCELERATE REFORM AND AVOID FUDGES

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has lashed out at the slow pace of reform of the Irish insurance market as another claim for personal injuries is dismissed by a judge saying that the claimant was  ‘an unimpressive witness’ and that the court had concluded that the accident on which the claim was based had not occurred.

Sitting in the Circuit Civil Court,  Judge Terence O’Sullivan said that there had been troubling aspects in a case in which Co Tyrone man Tom McDonagh had, with six of his extended family, sued a Dublin lorry owner for damages of up to €60,000 each. Judge O’Sullivan dismissed all seven cases and awarded costs against the adult members of the family.

Peter Boland, spokesperson for the Alliance for Insurance Reform commented,  “The law says that if a person knowingly gives evidence in a personal injuries action that is false or misleading in any material respect, he or she shall be guilty of an offence. A person guilty of such an offence shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding €100,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or to both. We want to know if the insurance companies involved in cases like this are going to seek prosecutions under Section 25 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 quoted above and if not, why not?

“In too many cases the policyholder wins but still ends up paying higher premiums because someone has to pay for the legal costs and increasingly, our members are telling us that plaintiffs ride off into the sunset without paying their costs or being pursued for them by the insurers.

“Insurance companies and the judiciary cannot oversee a situation where the worst that can happen in suspicious court cases is that the plaintiff walks away without fear of real sanctions.

“Equally, we call on the minister responsible, Michael Darcy, to accelerate the pace of progress of the reform promised by the  Cost of Insurance Working Group.  Much has been made of the potential of this Report but all we are can see right now is fudge after fudge. Specifically, the reform of Sections 25, 26 and 29 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 which cover the area of insurance fraud are being reformed via a protocol with the insurance industry. We have seen voluntary protocols used time after time by the insurance industry as a means of avoiding meaningful reform and this is not acceptable to policyholders any more. “

ENDS

REFERENCE:  “Family’s personal injuries claim totalling €420k dismissed after judge rules there ‘was no accident'” Ray Managh, Irish Independent May 2nd 2018

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/familys-personal-injuries-claim-totalling-420k-dismissed-after-judge-rules-there-was-no-accident-36866602.html

 

___________________________________________________

MONDAY 30th APRIL 2018

 Insurance policy holders ask for a seat on the PIAB

Government intent on increasing lawyers’ influence

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has today highlighted that the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD intends to appoint two further directors to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, the independent state body which assesses personal injury compensation; and is specifically limiting the appointments to candidates with legal and medical backgrounds.

On behalf of the Alliance, Peter Boland said “we have conveyed our serious concern at this plan.  It increases even further the influence of vested interests who profit from the current claims crisis, with insurers, medical experts and the legal profession all getting a seat on the Board.

 

“Meanwhile, the sectors most directly affected by the current crisis  – small and medium-sized businesses, charities, sports clubs, voluntary groups and other small organisations and individual policy holders  – remain voiceless, while being expected to pick up the tab.

 

“What makes this situation even more galling is that the legal profession, some of whose members have worked tirelessly to undermine the work of the PIAB, will now be represented on the Board.”

 

The Alliance has appealed to the Minister to rescind the current process and commit to including a representative of small policyholders on the Board with immediate effect.

___________________________________________________ 

Press release – 18 April 2018

Alliance for Insurance Reform calls for prosecution for false or misleading personal injury claims

 

Alliance to present proposals for meaningful insurance reform to Oireachtas Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

 

The Alliance for Insurance Reform, the group which brings together representative bodies from the not-for-profit, charity, sports and small and medium-sized business sectors across Ireland, will today present a suite of practical measures to tackle crippling insurance premiums when it appears before the Oireachtas Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

 

The Alliance, comprising of 20 civic and business representative organisations from across Ireland, represented by 35,000 members, over 633,000 employees and 41,300 volunteers, was formed this year in response to the spiralling cost of business insurance and the impact this is having on the viability of businesses, sporting organisations, festivals and charities.

 

The proposals cover areas of prevention, consistency and transparency in how liability and motor insurance claims are addressed including a call for an automatic referral to the Gardaí for prosecution for a plaintiff that knowingly gives or adduces evidence that is false or misleading in a personal injury claim. Other proposals include a call for a Garda insurance fraud unit to be established immediately; regulation of claims harvesting websites, also known as ambulance chasers; and a requirement for judges to set out detailed reasoning for payouts on injury claims which are in excess of the general guidelines.

Peter Boland, spokesperson for the Alliance, said:

“Excessive insurance premiums are pushing Irish businesses and civic organisations to the brink and efforts for reform have been halted by vested interests including the legal profession and insurance industry. The Alliance for Insurance Reform has come together as a group to set out practical, achievable steps to reduce spiralling costs for our members. Since the launch of the Alliance, we have met with the Minister and numerous state bodies and officials and yet no progress is visible. If this Committee wants to have a real impact on sharply rising business costs, then it must act on our proposals with a sense of urgency.”

The Alliance for Insurance Reform is also calling for:

  • The Statute of Limitations on personal injury claims be reduced from 2 years to 1 year
  • Change to the approach in calculating the Book of Quantum
  • Reinstate the Blue Book, the former insurance statistics publication
  • Individualised explanations to policy-holders for how premiums are settled
  • Notification to policyholders about the progress of claims against them
  • National Claims Information Database be given to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board and not The Central Bank

 

ENDS

 

EXTRACT FROM SUBMISSION TO BUSINESS COMMITTEE – SUMMARY OF TEN POINT ACTION PLAN

 

The actions we are suggesting are in the areas of Prevention, Consistency and Transparency. We believe them to be just, proportionate, feasible, achievable within a limited timeframe and ultimately, effective.

They are as follows:

PREVENTION

To quote a member of the audience at a public meeting we held in Cork in February, “if I had a need for big money and I had a choice between robbing a bank and faking an injury, I’d pick the fake injury every day. More money and no consequences if I’m found out.” We absolutely acknowledge the right of genuine claimants to fair compensation. But people have accidents all over the world. It is the consequences for Irish policyholders that appear unique.

  1. Link Sections 26 and 25 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004

We want an amendment to the Act such that if a case is dismissed under Section 26 of the Act because the plaintiff knowingly gives or adduces evidence that is false or misleading, it must be automatically referred to an Garda Siochana for a prosecution under Section 25, which penalises such an offence with a substantial fine or imprisonment or both unless a defendant deliberately falsely accuses a plaintiff of giving such evidence.

  1. Establish a Garda Insurance Fraud Unit

The CIWG Motor Insurance Reports promised a dedicated Garda unit to focus exclusively on the investigation of insurance fraud. We want the Unit established as a matter of urgency. The Minister tells us that there is not enough support in the House for this. If this is the case, we urge any opposing parties to clarify their concerns and resolve whatever blockages exist.

  1. Regulate claims management companies (claims harvesters)

Our members tell us that claim harvesting websites are acting as the ambulance chasers of old, pursuing potential claimants with promises of money to be made, regardless of how dubious the claim is and with no costs or consequences. They are adding fuel to the fire of fraudulent, exaggerated and misleading claims and must be regulated by the State in order to protect policyholders and society as a whole. In particular, any referral fees they might charge to refer live cases onto solicitors must be banned outright. It is not sufficient that Government pass this onto the LSRA which is still in the process of establishing itself. Regulation must be brought forward now.

  1. Amend Sections 7 & 8 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004

We ask that two amendments be introduced to the Act:

a) that Section 7 relating to the Statute of Limitations on PI claims be reduced from 2 years to 1 year. As the average time for a claim to be registered with PIAB following an accident is 9 and a half months, this will not disadvantage claimants. But it will mean that policyholders premium reserves will be one year shorter than is currently the case.

b) the language of Section 8, which purports to oblige a plaintiff to inform a defendant about an incident within 2 months, is so conditional as to be useless and is ignored in our experience. We ask that it is tightened up so that judges must take into account any delay in notification before allowing a case to proceed. The Department of Finance have said they are pursuing this with the Department of Justice but we want it done urgently.

CONSISTENCY

As documented elsewhere, the general damages awarded for minor injuries in Ireland bear no relation to those made in other countries which makes Ireland a very attractive place to have a minor accident. Additionally, there is no consistency between awards for identical injuries within the jurisdiction which makes it very attractive in personal injury cases to reject a PIAB offer and head for the courts, safe in the knowledge that with the right judge, the rewards may be substantially better.

  1. Change the Approach to Calculating the Book of Quantum

The Court of Appeal has already established that the ceiling on general damages for catastrophic injuries is €450,000. They have also established that the concepts of common sense and proportionality are central to the principles of proper compensation. We call for a revised book of quantum calculated on that percentage disability basis as a matter of urgency through the Personal Injuries Commission which is currently only looking at solutions for motor whiplash claims. Government should extend its remit to all injuries immediately.

  1. Encourage Consistency Among the Judiciary

The 2004 Civil Liability and Courts Act should be amended to require judges who award damages in excess of the Book of Quantum to set out a detailed reasoning for doing so.

TRANSPARENCY

The insurance industry is of systemic importance to the proper functioning of Irish society and is enshrined as such in much legislation and regulation. And yet there is virtually no transparency in this market either at industry or individual policyholder level.

7. Control the data coming from the new National Claims Information Database

We demand that control of analysis and reporting of the National Claims Information Database be given to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board rather than the Central Bank. PIAB has the expertise and funding necessary and no additional legislation would be required as Section 54 and Section 55 of the PIAB Act of 2003 already allow for this function.

8.Reinstate the Blue Book

Equally, we insist that the Blue Book be immediately reinstated and enhanced to restore the only transparency there previously was in the market before the Central Bank discontinued it in 2016.

9. Scrap and revisit the agreed Large Increases Protocol

The very first Recommendation in the CIWG Motor Insurance Report was that Insurers set out reasons for large increases in premiums to consumers. The Protocol produced from this recommendation was one of the first actions to be ticked as completed in the CIWG Updates. However, the Protocol as agreed between the Department of Finance and the insurance industry is a good example of how the CIWG is being strangled. We would be better off without it as it only creates the impression that something has been achieved when it hasn’t. We want a meaningful protocol agreed for both motor and liability insurance policyholders that individualises explanations with clear calculations showing the basis of premium charges.

10. Reinstate the 2003 IIF/IBEC Protocol on Dealing with Claims

Almost a year was spent by the Department of Finance and Insurance Ireland talking in circles about a protocol for notifying policyholders about the progress of claims against them before the Department discovered a pre-existing protocol agreed by Insurance Ireland’s predecessor the IIF and IBEC in 2003. The insurance industry is now resisting it being implemented anew. We demand that it is implemented immediately, backed by legislation, for both the motor insurance and liability insurance sectors.

________________________________________________

 

20th March 2018

Fury over lack of insurance reform

Policy holders have been ‘thrown to the wolves’ by Government

The Alliance of insurance Reform has expressed its intense disappointment at the slow pace of reform in the insurance and judicial industries following a meeting with Michel D’Arcy TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Insurance at Government Buildings today.

Speaking after the meeting, Eoin McCambridge of McCambridges of Galway and director of the Alliance said:

“The Government promised  ‘to identify immediate and longer term measures which can address increasing costs’, when they launched the Cost of Insurance Working Group in September 2016. We turned up at Government Buildings today expecting news on significant actions. What we have got instead is death by a thousand consultations and the dead hand  of vested interests . The hard-pressed motorists, charities, voluntary groups, sports clubs and businesses around the country cannot wait for reform.  It must happen now.

The Government has been hoodwinked into believing motor insurance premiums are on the way down. In reality, they are up 42% since January 2014, with increasing numbers of young drivers and owners of older cars unable to get insurance at all.

Meanwhile, charities, voluntary groups, sports clubs and businesses are reporting enormous increases in their liability insurance premiums, a crisis happening behind closed doors due to the lack of any data from the secretive insurance industry. We feel like we’ve been thrown to the wolves by the Government with no real help in sight.”

 

Ivan Cooper, Director of Advocacy with The Wheel (Ireland’s national association for community, voluntary and charitable organisations) said after the meeting:

“The insurance issue is increasingly impacting on our members in terms of their costs and the restrictions placed on their activities by insurance policies. This situation is unsustainable as it is a block on voluntary organisations who want to contribute to Irish society. We are calling today for an acceleration in the pace of reform in the industry.”

Also speaking after the meeting was Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform. He said:

 “The CIWG Reports are now littered with examples of positive-sounding actions that have been interminably delayed or neutered. For example, a protocol was proposed that would oblige insurance companies to notify a policyholder of claims made against them before settlement. This was supposed to be in place since the end of 2017 but has disappeared into the  ether.  

Likewise, a Garda Unit specialising in insurance fraud and funded by the insurance industry was due to be in place by the end of last year. Again, this has disappeared without trace.

Furthermore, what has been completed is completely unsatisfactory. For example the insurance industry was to be compelled to explain large premium increases to motorists. Instead, what was agreed between the industry and the Department of Finance was a blend generic statement that will be sent out with every premium increase and is a masterclass in saying everything and saying nothing.  (https://www.aig.ie/existing-customers/renewal-quote-explained)

“Overall, the Government’s CIWG is turning into a long-term process and there is no point in a long-term process to address an urgent issue. The actions the Alliance are focusing on are ones we believe to be just, proportionate, feasible, achievable within a limited timeframe and ultimately, we believe, effective.”

The actions the Alliance wants taken right now are :

PREVENTION OF FRAUDULENT, MISLEADING AND EXAGGERATED CLAIMS

  • Link Sections 26 and 25 of the Civil Liability Act 2004 so that if a claim is dismissed because it is false or misleading, it is automatically referred to the Gardai for prosecution under Section 25.
  • Push on the establishment of the Garda Insurance Fraud Unit funded by Insurance Industry
  • Regulate claims management companies (claims harvesters)

CONSISTENCY

  • General damages to be consistent with comparable European norms
  • Tariffs for specific injuries to be proportionate with the Court of Appeal cap of €450,000 for catastrophic injuries
  • Consistency in the awarding of general damages among judges

 TRANSPARENCY

  • Transparent data on the insurance industry so that we can identify why the crisis is happening
  • Transparency from insurance companies on why individual premiums are increased
  • Transparency from insurance companies on how, when and why claims are settled.

Commented McCambridge, “It was agreed that the Alliance would meet the Minister and his team again soon to follow up on progress. We will be expecting a lot more action soon if reform is going to make any difference for our members”. 

 

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:

Peter Boland, Alliance for Insurance Reform.

peter@insurancereform.ie

086 8266036

 6th March 2018

ALLIANCE FOR INSURANCE REFORM DEMANDS FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY TO OVERSEE THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY

Policyholders being fleeced while Government dawdles

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has today lashed out at the negligible pace of progress in the Government’s Cost of Insurance Working Group and demanded that a statutory financial conduct authority be established to supervise the insurance industry on behalf of policyholders, in the wake of recent reports on the massive increases in insurance company profits.

Insurance group FBD Holdings last week declared profits of €44.9m for 2017 while RSA Insurance Ireland posted profits of €10.8m.

Reacting to the news, Eoin McCambridge, director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform said “Insurance companies are now declaring enormous profits again in Ireland and yet there has been no meaningful reform of the personal injury system they have been blaming for their woes. The same companies claimed to be ‘on their knees’ in 2014 yet now, despite no delivery on the personal injury changes they insisted were vital, they are rolling in money. These profits are being made off the backs of hard-pressed charities, voluntary groups, sports clubs and businesses trying to stay open against a background of unsustainably high insurance premiums. To be frank, it looks increasingly clear that Irish policy holders are being fleeced by the industry”.

Commenting on the progress of the Government’s Cost of Insurance Working Group, Peter Boland of the Alliance said “The Government promised real reform in the insurance market for the benefit of policy holders. However their fourth update on the cost of motor insurance, slipped out without a fanfare two weeks ago, makes it abundantly clear that their focus has shifted to protecting the insurance industry. Any of the meaningful actions in the Report designed to shed some transparency on this secretive industry have been further delayed by a combination of Government inaction and industry resistance.

“Furthermore, there has been no meaningful progress on key issues related to the prevention of fraudulent, exaggerated or misleading claims or on the issue of sky-high and inconsistent awards for personal injury.

“Our members feel that this Working Group is increasingly looking like a mechanism for getting the Government over the next election campaign without achieving any real reform of the industry, leaving the insurance companies and other vested interests free to continue fleecing us. This is why we are today calling for a financial conduct authority be established on statutory basis to supervise the insurance industry. This would be an authority capable of protecting the interests of policyholders, without bending to the representations of vested interests. The Central Bank is not capable of fulfilling this role as it is currently tasked. Its responsibility to support the sustainability the insurance industry means that it is too close to insurers to look after policyholders as well and is fundamentally conflicted.”

ENDS

The Alliance for Insurance Reform is holding three public meetings regarding the current insurance crisis in Galway, Limerick and Cork .

Thursday 8th February: Galway City

Time: 8pm

Venue: The Ardilaun Hotel, Taylor’s Hill, Galway

 

Friday 9th: Limerick City

Time: 8pm

Venue: The Strand Hotel, Ennis Road, Limerick

 

Monday 12th: Cork City

Time: 8pm

Venue: The Metropole Hotel, MacCurtain St, Cork

The meetings are scheduled to last one hour. The agenda at all three is as follows:

  • Presentation on Alliance
  • Research presentation
  • What we want
  • Suggestions Session – what changes will make a real difference now!

PRESS RELEASE 25.01.18

A Republic of Opportunity for the insurance industry and legal profession as Irish businesses and charities bled dry

The insurance industry and the legal profession breathe easy as Government report fails to take urgent action on crippling insurance premiums

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has criticised the Government’s latest report on the cost of  insurance published by the Department of Finance today.

Peter Boland, spokesperson for the Alliance said:

“Today’s report is an embarrassment to a Government that claims to be on the side of small business owners. Its main recommendations call for more reports and analysis while asking kindly for the insurance industry and legal profession to cooperate. The only Republic of Opportunity we see is the one exploited by the insurance industry and legal profession as Irish businesses and charities are bled dry.

It is clear that the vested interests profiting off the backs of Irish organisations have no interest in reforming a system that is driving big increases in profits for their shareholders. The Government needs to show backbone in taking on these sectors to project jobs and services across the country.”

The Alliance for Insurance Reform which was launched this week highlighted how today’s report makes it clear that the Department of Finance is biased in protecting the insurance industry. The report’s comment that “the Working Group always remained conscious of the need to ensure that a financially stable and solvent insurance sector is maintained”while not mentioning policy holders as a priority. This is an insult to struggling businesses and not-for-profit organisations.It is clear that the Government doesn’t have the same urgency to ensure financially and solvent SME and charity sectors.  The vast majority of the actions outlined in today’s report involve the production of feasibility studies, proposals, reports, options or detailed analyses. It gives the overall impression of being a holding document to avoid actual action.

Every day members of the Alliance for Insurance Reform receive an insurance renewal which is inexplicably increased from the year before. Every day there are jobs under threat, services reduced, and organisations forced out of existence in response to crippling insurance premiums from an out of control insurance industry and legal profession. It has been over 18 months since the Government first established their working group on insurance costs and no tangible progress has been made in reducing premiums.

A survey of 950 members of Alliance organisations, carried out by Amárach Research found that since 2013, nearly half (47%) of respondents have seen their premiums rise by over 30%, while over one fifth have even seen rises of over 70%. Two thirds of respondents also reported having increased excesses or new exclusions added to their policies -creating more risk and exposure to cost.

The top impacts of this on their organisations included inhibiting their ability to grow (47%), threatening the future of their organisation (45%) and making jobs less secure (25%).

The Alliance will be a voice for the interests of the policyholder who always comes at the bottom of the list after insurers and the legal profession and other vested interests. We are demanding urgent change that will:

  • prevent exaggerated and misleading claims being pursued and settled
  • deliver real transparency on how premiums are calculated as well as information on how, when and why claims are settled
  • give consistency in the calculation of awards

About the Alliance for Insurance Reform:

The Alliance for Insurance Reform represents not for profit organisations, charities and small and medium-sized businesses, highlighting the negative impact of persistently high premiums and is calling for real action to tackle the issue. Its members include:

  • AOIFE Ireland (Association of Irish Festival Events)
  • Car Rental Council of Ireland
  • Construction Industry Federation
  • Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland
  • Galway City Business Association
  • Ireland Active
  • Irish Road Haulage Association
  • Irish Hotels Federation
  • ISME
  • Licensed Vintners Association
  • Motorsport Ireland
  • Playcentres Ireland
  • Quick Service Food Alliance
  • Restaurants Association of Ireland
  • RGDATA
  • Society of the Irish Motor Industry
  • Vintners Federation of Ireland
  • The Wheel (Ireland’s national association for community, voluntary and charitable organisations)

 

 

PRESS RELEASE 24th January 2018

Irish civic and business organisations unite to launch the Alliance for Insurance Reform

45% of organisations say that rising insurance premiums are threatening their future

 

The Alliance for Insurance Reform brings together 18 civic and business organisations from across Ireland, representing 35,000 members, over 620,000 employees and 41,300 volunteers to demand action to end crippling insurance premiums.

The creation of the Alliance is a response to countless stories from small organisations where services and jobs are being affected by excessive insurance costs.

The group which represents not-for-profit organisations, charities and small and medium- sized businesses, is highlighting the negative impact of persistently high premiums and is calling for real action to tackle the issue.

Peter Boland, spokesperson for the Alliance said:

“Persistently high, unsustainable insurance premiums are pushing everyday organisations to the brink and denying Ireland the voluntary and business services any civilised society might expect. The formation of the Alliance for Insurance Reform is on the back of intense frustration with unjust and persistent rises in insurance premiums and the clear lack of any meaningful results from the initiatives taken in the area so far. What is at stake is the survival of charities and voluntary bodies serving our country and the livelihood of Irish business owners and their staff. That is why we need action now.”

A survey of 950 members of Alliance organisations, carried out by Amárach Research found that since 2013, nearly half (47%) of respondents have seen their premiums rise by over 30%, while over one fifth have even seen rises of over 70%. Two thirds of respondents also reported having increased excesses or new exclusions added to their policies -creating more risk and exposure to cost.

The top impacts of this on their organisations included inhibiting their ability to grow (47%), threatening the future of their organisation (45%) and making jobs less secure (25%).

At the launch of the Alliance today, stark examples were given of the negative impact of excessive insurance premiums(see Notes to Editors).  One example is Eoin McCambridge of McCambridges food hall and restaurant in Galway:

“Rising insurance premiums are preventing McCambridges from investing in the business in terms of expansion, improvement and employment.In 2014 our insurance premium was €17,000. In 2017, it was €102,000. Within three years, McCambridges will be closed if premiums keep rising at the current rate.”

 

Eoin McCambridge added:

“The Alliance will be a voice for the interests of the policyholder who always comes at the bottom of the list after insurers and the legal profession and other vested interests. We are demanding urgent change that will:

  • prevent exaggerated and misleading claims being pursued and settled
  • deliver real transparency on how premiums are calculated as well as information on how, when and why claims are settled
  • give consistency in the calculation of awards”

The Alliance will be holding public meetings around the country in the next few weeks to gather feedback from companies and organisations on their experiences and on how they’ve been impacted.  When it has gathered this evidence, the Alliance will publish a very specific list of changes it believes are necessary to prevent fake claims, deliver transparency, ensure consistency and give policyholders a voice.

ENDS

 

For media enquiries please contact:

Michael Ward, Drury| Porter Novelli – michael.ward@drurypn.ie / 087 213 0445

Rob Hanly, Drury| Porter Novelli – Robert.hanly@drurypn.ie / 087 932 6887

About the Alliance for Insurance Reform:

The Alliance for Insurance Reform represents not for profit organisations, charities and small and medium-sized businesses, highlighting the negative impact of persistently high premiums and is calling for real action to tackle the issue. Its members include:

  • AOIFE Ireland (Association of Irish Festival Events)
  • Car Rental Council of Ireland
  • Construction Industry Federation
  • Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland
  • Galway City Business Association
  • Ireland Active
  • Irish Road Haulage Association
  • Irish Hotel Federation
  • ISME
  • Licensed Vintners Association
  • Motorsport Ireland
  • Playcentres Ireland
  • Quick Service Food Alliance
  • Restaurant Association of Ireland
  • RGDATA
  • Society of the Irish Motor Industry
  • Vintners Federation of Ireland
  • The Wheel (Ireland’s national association for community, voluntary and charitable organisations)

 

W: www.insurancereform.ie

F: /insurancereformireland

T: @InsuranceRefIre

 

Case studies of Alliance members:

Stephanie Reid – Monkey Business

Stephanie owns and runs a children’s play centre in Galway city. Her insurance bill increased from €4,700 in 2016 to €8,275 in 2017. She outlined how there is a huge amount of anxiety within the business when the insurance is renewed every year. In the past she was deeply frustrated with the lack of communication from her insurance company where one previous claim was settled without her knowledge. She states that one serious claim and premium hike will close her business and put everyone employed by it out of a job.

William Hanley – Supervalu

William Hanley is the owner of a Supervalu store on the southside of Dublin. He has seen his annual insurance premium increase every year for the past 4 years. On top of his premium he also pays out an excess charge of €5,000 for each and every claim settled by his insurance company which adds a considerable amount to his annual insurance bill. The impact on these annual increases is to put jobs at risk at renewal time every year. William is highly frustrated by how insurance companies don’t tackle exaggerated and vexatious claims.

Colm Croffy – Association of Irish Festival Events (AOIFE)

Colm Croffy is the Executive Director of the Association of Irish Festival Events. His members have seen insurance costs hiked up by between 8% and 12% over the past three years. If this trend continues then a large number of festivals and outdoor events will be forced to cease operations with a massive knock on impact for local economies. The increasing health and safety obligations on organisers of outdoor events is also leading to events becoming less innovative and more restrictive.

Ivan Cooper, The Wheel

Ivan Cooper is Director of Public Policy at The Wheel, the national association of community, voluntary and charitable organisations. According to Ivan, the cost of insurance is a huge issue for many charities, with the cost of insurance absorbing ever-increasing quantities of scarce resources. “Fifty of The Wheel’s members have already informed the organisation that their insurance premiums have increased in the past three years, in some cases by as much as 500%. Most charities need public or employer liability insurance, and sudden increases can threaten the ability of organisations to deliver important services in communities. Bringing the cost of insurance down – and indeed ensuring continued availability of cover – is now an urgent matter for many charities,” said Mr Cooper.

The Alliance demands that fraudulent personal injury claims are automatically referred for potential prosecution.

https://t.co/Suidr7hlNv

Insurance costs affecting all levels of society. Is Rural Ireland to lose its marts as well?

#InsuranceReform now!

https://t.co/Dswq3WIXHM

CONSEQUENCES OF NOT INSURING CARS OVER 10 YEARS OLD?

139,308 vehicles to be scrapped in Ireland in 2018!

Lost exchequer revenue, accelerated car devaluation, increased emissions, garage closures ,job losses, reduction in rural mobility

Does this suit anyone else but insurers?

@InsuranceRefIre Relatively easy for the Executive to blame the judiciary for the problem.
But the real remedies for out-of-control damages are in the Dáil.
Minister @michaeldarcy can put damages on a legislative footing if he wants

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