Urgent Government action is needed to tackle rising insurance costs or risk significant job losses in the transport industry.
Haulage operators are leaving Ireland “in droves”, opting for more competitive EU member states.
That was the message delivered yesterday to an Oireachtas joint committee on finance, public expenditure, and reform by Verona Murphy, the president of the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA).
“Over the past year, insurance premiums have increased across the board by 50%-100% and, in many cases, even higher,” she said, adding that a motor insurance policy for a truck costs €5,000. In comparison, it costs €3,000 in the UK and as low as €2,000 in Poland and Romania.
The IRHA said that, as a result, many haulage operators are left with no choice but to open transport offices in EU member states, resulting in a loss of €250,000 per vehicle to the exchequer.
Irish haulage operators also face competition from the North as drivers do not have to pay the HGV levy and can also claim diesel rebates in the south.
The IRHA said haulage companies cannot continue to operate with such high costs, meaning the potential for significant job losses.
It is asking the Government to allow road haulage operators to source their own insurance in neighbouring member states, and encourage new entrants to the insurance market here.
“There is no competition in the market. The insurance industry is very lax in fighting claims and puts more effort into increasing premiums rather than fighting claims,” said Ms Murphy.
The IRHA is also calling on the Government to allow haulage operators access insurance on the European single market.
“The collective road haulage industry must be permitted to access the European single market to insure the fleet. There should be no difference in insuring trucks on continental territory no matter where they are based as long as they are on an EU registration plate,” said Ms Murphy.
Meanwhile, the Freight Transport Association Ireland believes rising motor insurance costs could be reduced by tackling false and exaggerated personal injury claims.
General manager Neil McDonnell said: “We believe it’s time to stop the national compensation culture that drives this excessive insurance cost and we feel it is absolutely necessary to address the ridiculous compensation payouts on the basis that they are victimless — they are not.”
Paul Redmond, of the Car Rental Council of Ireland, said settlements of personal injuries claims have become a large cost associated with the rental car industry. He said international car rental companies identified Ireland as having the highest risk liability costs.
The group is calling for reforms of the injuries board procedures, to decrease the amount of cases being referred to the courts.
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