On Wednesday, 25th May 2022, Insurance Ireland appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment to contribute to the Committee’s scrutiny of the Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill 2022. Representing Insurance Ireland at the Committee were Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, Florian Wimber, Director of Advocacy, Communications and Public Affairs, and Michael Horan and Michael Curtin, Managers of Regulation and Policy Development. Peter Boland and Tracy Sheridan attended the Committee representing the Alliance for Insurance Reform.
In her opening statement, Moyagh Murdock emphasised Insurance Ireland’s strong support for the Agenda for Insurance Reform and the enhancement of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). The reform of the renamed and refocused Personal Injuries Resolution Board would represent the most major reform of PIAB since its inception in 2004. Insurers responded positively to the introduction of PIAB in 2004 and have continually advocated for the strengthening of PIAB’s powers as a means of reducing legal costs and settlement timelines since. She highlighted the Central Bank of Ireland’s (CBI) National Claim Information Database (NCID) report on Private Motor Insurance showed a twenty fold increase in the cost of a claim that went through litigation rather than resolved through PIAB and that the timeline for resolution of claims via litigation was almost double that of resolution through PIAB.
Moyagh Murdock further noted Insurance Ireland’s happiness to hear of the Cabinet’s recent agreement on a proposal to amend the Duty of Care and Occupiers’ Liability in Ireland. Together with the Bill under scrutiny at the Committee, and the already implemented Personal Injuries Guidelines, this rebalancing of the Duty of Care will contribute towards a consistent and comprehensive suite of reforms to the Irish market for insurance.
During the Committee meeting, queries were raised as to whether the introduction of mediation services will be of significant benefit to policyholders and claimants. Moyagh Murdock highlighted that the 2021 report on Public Liability and Employer’s Liability published by the CBI showed that 10% of claimants settled directly after PIAB in 2019, with 60% of claimants settling before a court award. She contended that the expansion of PIAB to include mediation should work to reduce number of claimants that fall into these cohorts, which would be of huge benefit to policyholders and claimants alike.
Both Moyagh Murdock and Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform emphasised throughout the Committee that a key benefit of the strengthening of the mandate of PIAB would be reducing the costly legal fees associated with litigated claims. It was highlighted during the session that the CBI reporting shows that the compensation received by claimants is nominally (and sometimes negatively) affected by pursuing the claims in the courts, but the legal fees increase hugely.
Queries were also raised in relation to the competitiveness of the Irish insurance market. Insurance Ireland described the lack of balance in the duty of care, the cost of regulation and stringent oversight as some of the reasons that potential new entrants have been and continue to be dissuaded from setting up in the Irish market.
Moyagh Murdock stressed the importance of predictability and transparency for potential newcomers, that strong and robust regulation is a selling point for Ireland, but balance is needed. A key concern in this regard raised by Insurance Ireland was an indication from members that PIAB awards in line with the Personal Injury Guidelines are not being upheld in the courts without reasoning for the deviation being provided in the judgment. Insurance Ireland and the Alliance for Insurance Reform agreed on the importance of the consistent application of the Personal Injury Guidelines in the courts.
The session concluded with a robust discussion on fraudulent claims and the capacity of the industry to combat fraud. Moyagh Murdock reaffirmed the industry’s commitment to settling genuine claims as expediently as possible while also identifying and reporting suspected fraudulent claims for investigation.