EDITORIAL: Tackling high cost of motor insurance

December 10th, 2016 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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A MOST welcome report by the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform was published recently, containing some worthwhile proposals to address the the spiraling cost of motor insurance, especially for younger drivers. Indeed, all age groups have been subjected to greatly-increased quotes for insurance, even among people who have never had a claim, making it difficult to see how the industry can justify them.

No doubt, they have the figures and formulae with which to defend their actions, so what’s needed now are actions to avoid giving the insurance companies more excuses to increase premia. A key priority has to be an integrated data hub to share information between insurers, the State and the Gardaí to try to stamp out fraud. 

The report recommends the strengthening of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, an institution that was set up to provide a quick-remedy alternative to costly litigation, but failed to capture the public imagination. Too many claims are still going through the courts, which are more lucrative in terms of monies awarded and most of which are multiples of what is considered reasonable compensation in other countries.

What judges need is a Book of Quantum to try to standardise pay-outs of awards at a reasonable level and to try to rein in excessive legal costs also. Then, there are the claims some companies settle just to get them off their books, nearly always without reference to their own client, whose next premium suffers as a result of such capitulation. 

The imminent next step is a set of recommendations from the Motor Insurance Working Group, giving detailed commitments on implementing the measures identified by the Oireachtas Committee’s report.

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