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90% of insurance reform actions done or ongoing

The government will outline progress made on insurance reform later today when it publishes its third insurance reform implementation report.

It states that approximately 90% of the actions in its Action Plan for Insurance Reform have been completed or are underway.

However, Sinn Féin criticized the plan, saying that premiums for businesses and voluntary organizations remain too high.

The party has called on the government to support the party’s bill, the Judicial Council (Amendment) Bill, which it says will force insurers to pass on savings from reduced awards to customers.

Getting the high insurance costs and payouts under control is a clear goal in the Program for the Government. The insurance reform plan was launched by the coalition almost two years ago.

Among the 90% of actions achieved or underway are the establishment of the Office to Promote Competition in the Insurance Market, the Insurance Fraud Coordination Office and new personal injury guidelines.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar said that the success of the plan will be measured by the reduction in premiums and improved competition.

“While we have seen some evidence of the improvement in the availability of insurance, so far we have only seen premiums for motorists fall. It is also expected that there will be a lag time between the implementation of the reforms and people see the benefits,” he said.

Work on finalizing the plan will continue, overseen by a cabinet committee sub-group.

Sinn Féin’s spokesman on finance, Pearse Doherty, said that while car insurance premiums had fallen somewhat, they had not for businesses and voluntary organisations.

“Despite the fact that premiums are now significantly lower, these savings are pocketed by the insurance industry and not passed on to consumers.

“The government must end its opposition to the Sinn Féin bill before the Oireachtas which will put pressure on insurers to pass on, euro for euro, the savings from reduced awards to policyholders,” he said.

The Director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform said that while insurance reforms are having an impact on the auto insurance side, they are not having the same effect on the liability side.

The alliance represents civic and business organizations seeking lower insurance costs and reform.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Peter Boland said they were seeing an increase in premiums.

“For all the hard work the Government has done, all the profits made are pocketed by insurers and in reality what we see among our members is premiums increasing.”

Mr Boland said liability insurance was increasing and it was “putting smaller businesses out of business”.

“This is the kind of insurance that is essential for SMEs for community and voluntary groups, sports and cultural organizations and charities. They can’t really function without it.

“It’s been a huge issue for over six years now, it’s putting small businesses out of business and it’s stopping charities and voluntary groups from doing what they’re set up to do,” he said.

Mr Boland said that since the biggest reform to date, which was the implementation of the judicial guidelines in April last year, “those kind of premiums go up by an average of 16% on renewal”.

He added: “Our view is that insurers are taking the government on this because they’ve been saying all along that it’s the cost of claims that drives the cost of premiums and now it’s being addressed and it’s delivering substantial results, they’re saying it depends from duty of care, or fraud or reform of PIAB.”

Speaking on the same programme, Secretary of State Sean Fleming said the cost of insurance was falling, with car insurance down 10% “across the board in the last 12 months”.

He said that towards the end of last year and early this year there were reductions in home insurance “also helped by the abolition of the loyalty penalty where older customers who have been with a company for a long period are charged a penalty due to the time they stayed with that particular company.”

Mr Fleming said the government wanted more competition in the Irish market to reduce premiums.

“The non-availability of insurance was a very big obstacle when we came into government because of Brexit.

“We have most of it, but not absolutely all, fully resolved at this stage,” he said.

Insurance Ireland said it welcomed the progress but more needed to be done.

“Ultimately, reduced costs mean reduced premiums, and Insurance Ireland members remain committed to passing on the benefits of lower claims costs to customers,” said Moyagh Murdock, CEO of Insurance Ireland.

“This is evidenced by recent CSO data, which shows a reduction in motor premiums of 43% since July 2016 and 10% in the past year.”

“Much has been achieved so far through the Action Plan but it is important that momentum is not lost. It is essential that the outstanding measures are prioritized and completed for the benefit of consumers and the economy.

She added that pending legislation on reforming PIAB and rebalancing the duty of care is needed, as well as increased competition in the market, especially in the area of ​​business insurance.

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