Alliance for Insurance Reform welcomes “small steps” towards reform but describes progress as “unbearably slow”

Lack of timeline for Judicial Council reform and lack of resources for Garda Fraud Unit are deeply disappointing

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed the announcement by the Chief Justice of the appointment of the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee of the Judicial Council.  But Peter Boland, spokesperson for the Alliance said “this is a small step forward but we need to see real urgency in tackling high awards.

“The Judicial Council Act was signed into law 88 days ago. These appointments chould have been made in one week; and today we learned that plans for benchmarking and information-gathering are expected. The only losers from this footdragging are the hundreds and thousands of community groups, charities and small businesses who are being crippled by increasing costs.

“Our experience over the last 2 years has been that deadline after deadline for reform is missed. Today we got no timeline for when the work of the Committee would be complete.  From a policyholders’ perspective, progress appears unbearably slow. The Personal Injuries Commission and the Cost of Insurance Working Group have already completed a huge body of research and this does not need to be repeated.  We are calling on those appointed to this Committee Designate’ to demonstrate an understanding of how serious this problem is and make early recommendations on dramatically lowering awards for minor injuries.

The Conference today also heard from Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll on its work in the area of insurance fraud.  Peter Boland said “We are disappointed that no progress has been made on the establishment of a fully-funded and resourced Garda response. Until this deterrent is put in place the incentive to claim fraudulently or to exaggerate claims will remain undiminished”.

Finally, the Alliance said that the insurance industry needs to make a commitment to quantify the scale of premium reductions which will follow reforms.  “Reform in awards and more Garda priority will be useless if the insurers do not commit to meaningful premium reductions” concluded Peter Boland.