A leading insurance broker for small businesses wants the Government to overhaul the current system governing minor injuries awards, proposing that claimants should no longer receive compensation for pain and suffering and only be paid for medical expenses and loss of earnings.
Arguing that a “bruise should not equal bonanza”, CFM Insurance Group, which acts as insurance broker for hundreds of shops and small businesses, says claimants who are back playing sport shortly after injury should be paid “proportionate” levels of compensation.
At present, claimants can be awarded thousands of euro in general damages for pain caused by minor injuries, with medical expenses and loss of earnings awarded on top of that.
Explaining their position, Jonathan Hehir, managing director at CFM Group, said that, as it stands, it is actually recommended in the Book of Quantum - an Injuries Board publication on levels of compensation - that someone with a minor finger sprain be awarded as much as €19,100, and the courts can even decide on an amount greater than this.
“Awards like these are at the root of the problems faced by small business owners when it comes to insurance premiums – because they are driving up the costs. We come across Public Liability (PL) cases every day and one thing that is wholly apparent is that often what is paid out in a claim, does not honestly reflect the injury sustained – it massively overstates it."
CFM accused the Government of taking its foot off the gas when it comes to insurance because premiums are reducing and it is no longer an issue that is high on the public agenda.
Mr Hehir questioned the Government’s progress on the recommendations made by the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC).
He said: “Minister (Michael) D’Arcy (Minister of State with special responsibility for insurance) has warned that if the Judicial Council Bill is not passed in this current Dáil session before the summer recess on July 11, the establishment of the Judicial Council would be delayed until late 2020.
"Each year of a delay will add thousands of euro to the insurance bill of shops and other businesses with high footfall, and many of those businesses simply won’t survive another year of inaction.”