Motor insurance hikes not reflected in claims data as payouts have not risen significantly

It is not clear how claims have contributed to increases in motor insurance premiums, says the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, as payouts have not risen significantly for years.

“Our figures in recent years do not support the level of increase in claims and we cannot see how it would justify the level of increases that we have seen,” said chief executive of the board Conor O’Brien, at a meeting of the joint Oireachtas committee discussing rising motor insurance costs.

The board has assessed 100,000 claims since it was set up in 2003 to provide a low- cost alternative model for personal injuries claims.

Injury board compensation payouts have remained at a consistent level for the last five to six years, the board found.

“The biggest issue is the lack of data, and the lack of the ability to target where the issues are,” Mr O’Brien said.

The board suggested that insurance companies should publish information relating to claims settlements, including the amount of injury claims, average settlement amounts, average fees being paid, and the length of time it takes to settle claims to allow for greater transparency.

The Society of Actuaries in Ireland also told the committee greater transparency is needed from the industry.

“We believe that evidence-based research is vital to underpin informed policy making. We support Minister Eoghan Murphy’s call for greater transparency and we urge the Government to commission an annual analysis similar to that performed in other jurisdictions.

“We believe that such an analysis should not just cover industry data, but also data from the Injuries Board and road safety data,” said Gary Dunne of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland.

According to Mr Dunne, this has allowed the UK to identify the factors behind premium increases.

“I think there’s an awful lot of anecdotes around why insurance prices are going up and that’s actually the reason why we need a committee because there are too many anecdotes and not enough evidence,” he added.

The Society of Actuaries in Ireland said CSO figures show car insurance prices fell 27% between 2003 and 2010 and part of the recent rise reflects pricing being restored to correct levels.

The society says another reason for the increase is due to uncertainty in court payouts.

“We do need a good robust analysis on this, in a transparent fashion which will highlight how much money is or isn’t being made [by insurance companies] it will also hopeful allow us to find the factors behind that which will allow policy makers to make informed policy decisions,”said Mr Dunne.

Revisions to the Book of Quantum — a guideline for the issuing of personal injury payments — will be issued in the coming weeks, which the board says will help determine injury payouts.

However “iIt’s not a silver bullet for the current issues with insurance premiums”, Mr O’Brien warned. “But if it is used consistently it will certainly help the issue.”

The hearing continues.


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