Insurance claims cost reforms incomplete two years on from the Cost of Insurance Working Group Report
• “The defining issue in the Irish general insurance market is the cost of claims and policyholders deserve to know when the planned reforms will be completed. Insurance claims reform is a cost of living and competitiveness issue the Government must address in 2019.” – Kevin Thompson, CEO of Insurance Ireland
• Inaction costs as the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) report found Irish soft-tissue “whiplash” compensation awards are 4.4 times the UK level. PIC report data shows the average award increased by €900 for each year benchmarked
• 78% of Irish people would support proposals to reduce personal injury award levels according to Ipsos MRBI poll*
10 January 2019. Two years on from the publication of the First Cost of Insurance Working Group Report, the work to tackle embedded claims costs must be completed in 2019, according to Insurance Ireland.
The publication of the First Cost of Insurance Working Group Report in January 2017 aimed to bring greater consistency and predictability to compensation award levels as well as faster resolution of claims in order to benefit consumers, businesses and society as a whole.
Speaking on the two year anniversary on 10 January, Kevin Thompson, CEO of Insurance Ireland, stated “Two years ago we cautioned that the publication of the Cost of Insurance Working Group Report in itself would not reduce costs in the market, but the swift implementation of the right policies would. While much important work has been undertaken since, including the findings of the Personal Injuries Commission which established that the average Irish soft-tissue award is now 4.4 times the UK level, the reform of our cost of claims is incomplete.
“Inaction costs as we know from data in the Personal Injuries Commission report that the average compensation award for all soft-tissue personal injury awards increased by over €900 for each year it benchmarked. Despite this, there is no firm timeline for the legislation to establish the Judicial Council and develop new compensation guidelines. In addition, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Bill, which aims to improve the claims settlement process, has still not passed through the Dail.
“We are concerned at the lack of urgency in delivering the key reforms such as the Judicial Council Bill, which it was hoped would be enacted by the end of 2018. Given the clear need for progress, consideration should be given to a contingency mechanism to allow the judiciary to complete new compensation guidelines in advance of the next renewal of the Book of Quantum. This would reflect the urgency in the Personal Injures Commission report which called for a ‘response that is effective and achievable in the shortest time.’
Kevin Thompson concluded “The defining issue in the Irish general insurance market is the cost of claims and policyholders deserve to know when the planned reforms will be completed. Insurance claims reform is a cost of living and competitiveness issue the Government mustaddress in 2019.All stakeholders in this process have a responsibility to policyholders to maintain a sense of urgency when it comes to delivering on the Cost of Insurance Working Group Report’s objectives.”
Notes to Editor:
 Figure is based on all soft-tissue general damage awards from €1,000-€100,000 in the Personal Injuries Commission Report.
*The polling cited was conducted by IPSOS MRBI in January 2018 and the question asked was ‘Would you support or would you not support proposals to reduce personal injury award levels in Ireland by benchmarking them against levels in other comparable countries?’ (all adults aged 17+; sample of 977). 78% would support; 13% would not support; 9% do not know.