Insurance deal set to deliver lower premiums

TRANSPORT Minister Seamus Brennan will offer a major insurance firm the State’s penalty points database to clinch a groundbreaking deal which could result in premiums being slashed by up to 15% for safe drivers.

Mr Brennan is expected to sign a deal by June 1 with the company, which has offered to pass on discounts to safe drivers in return for access to the State’s register of drivers’ penalty points.

Mr Brennan was angered by the Insurance Industry Federation’s (IIF) claim that it could only offer minimum discounts of €3.29 to safe drivers. The IIF has claimed a 10% reduction in premiums for points-free drivers would push up the premiums for drivers with penalty points to around €8,000.

But Mr Brennan has rejected this, claiming it is based on a very narrow calculation. He has accused the IIF of failing to consider the savings made in the reduction of deaths and serious injuries on the State’s roads since penalty points were introduced.

Road deaths have dropped by 32% since penalty points were introduced last October, with a corresponding reduction in serious injuries.

Mr Brennan has calculated that this has saved the insurance industry between €20 million and €40m. He accused the industry of completely missing the point and hanging back on the campaign to improve road safety.

Mr Brennan warned that it was not acceptable for the industry to sit on the fence and adopt a wait-and-see approach to the most successful scheme ever devised to reduce road deaths.

“We need to say to a driver that if you don’t accumulate points over a 12-month period your insurance will fall by a certain amount,” he said.

The Department of Transport last night would not reveal the name of the insurance company that is likely to sign up to the penalty points reduction scheme because it said that negotiations have not yet been completed.

Insurance companies say they need the penalty points database to be able to calculate how many drivers should get the extra loadings on their premiums.

“The minister would have no problem in giving this database to any insurance company that was prepared to sign up to the cost savings deal for points-free drivers,” his spokesman said.

Mr Brennan believes that once one company starts to offer discounts, based on access to the register, market forces will ensure that other companies follow suit.

But the IIF has rejected Mr Brennan’s claim that the industry has saved between €20m and €40m since the introduction of the penalty points scheme.

The policy of returning in full the benefits is not at issue, the real issue is the value of those benefits, according to federation spokesman Martin Long.

“It is not at all anything like 15%,” Mr Long said.

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