Only one in three believe lower personal injury awards will result in lower premiums

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Over a third of people who had an accident at work, on the road or in a public place made a personal injury claim, it has emerged.

Research presented at a conference held by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board also found that 82% believe there is a compensation culture in Ireland.

However, most people (62%) agree there is a need to reform the way personal injury compensation is determined in Ireland.

The Amárach research based on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 found that 80% strongly support prosecuting for insurance fraud.

However, only 34% believe that lower personal injury awards will result in lower premiums.

Director of PIAB's corporate services, Stephen Watkins, said the independent statutory body that assesses personal injuries compensation was established in 2004 when insurance premiums had “gone through the roof.”

Mr Watkins said the PIAB followed prevailing damages levels, and that was “critically important” in the current debate.

The PIAB receives about 33,500 claims per year – roughly 90 per day.

Mr Watkins said the number of claims was reduced down to 18,500 because 15,000 claims were never pursued, with another 6,000 released due to the nature of particular claims.

He pointed out that “wholly psychological” or abuse cases were "not conducive" for their paper-based assessment system.

There were 7,500 cases a year where the insurance company objected to the PIAB making an assessment.

We don't know with certainty what happens to those cases – whether they are settled or end up in litigation. That leaves us with about 18,500 cases which we can actually assess.

About 6,000 cases are not pursued any further – they are settled directly between the insurer and the claimant.

Some cases would have to be released because of their medical nature, leaving about 12,500 cases that are assessed of which 7,000 are accepted and a payment made to the claimant.

“There is a lack of transparency in relation to the overall claims environment – compensation values that are settled outside of our process and what are the costs involved in those cases.”

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