16 May 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance, Michael McGrath (based in Carrigaline) has said that the insurance premiums being applied to business, home, public and motor insurance customers are now unsustainable and sustained government action is required to tackle the problem.
Deputy McGrath was commenting as he launched his party’s private members’ business motion on the insurance sector, and the challenges homeowners, business owners and motorists are facing to maintain their insurance.
“Across the board, we have seen excessive and exorbitant increases in the cost of obtaining insurance, and it is forcing many policy holders to make a choice about whether to keep paying or not.
“If this happens, the very foundations of the insurance industry, and the protections it provides Irish businesses and families, will be at risk.
“In the motor insurance industry, while recent CSO figures may show no discernible increase in the last number of months, certain motorists are still receiving hiked up renewal notices in the order of 30% of 40%.
“Many businesses, and in particular SMEs, are also experiencing massive increases, in the order of 40% and higher, in their premiums for motor, public liability and employer liability cover.
“These increases place a major drag on their competitiveness and ultimately their viability. As the CSO does not publish these statistics, the challenges businesses face are being side-lined, or worse, ignored.
“This simply has to change. Many of these SMEs sell directly into the UK, and with Brexit on the horizon, their cost competitiveness will be vital in them weathering the storm that may come down the tracks.
“We cannot allow these costs rise unabated; we must ensure that Ireland remains a competitive place to both live and work.
“Transparency is needed in the insurance industry and the Government must set down clear timelines and parameters for Phase 2 of the Cost of Insurance Working Group which will look at business insurance, including public liability and employer insurance.
“It’s startling to see the Government attempt to claim credit for no increases in average motor insurance premiums in 2017. While in and of itself, this is a positive development, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
“Insurers are now looking at other ways of charging extra. Increasing excess levels or completely ruling out insuring certain activities, buildings or sectors is putting significant pressure on policy holders, and many will, unfortunately, risk it and not renew their insurance.
“What I’m hearing every day is a desire for fair insurance premiums that reflect reality. I do not believe that this is a case of business owners or individuals having the money to pay but refusing to do so; they simply cannot afford the premiums being charged by insurance companies,” concluded McGrath.