Up to 20,000 jobs could be at risk if the insurance pricing crisis is not resolved, according to the Alliance for Insurance Reform.
Members of the alliance have urged teams negotiating a new programme-for-government to ensure insurance reform is made a priority in the coming weeks.
Their claim comes amid a backdrop of community and sports groups speaking out about their difficulties in securing cover.
Adventure centres, waterparks, bouncy castles and zip-lining groups have been badly hit with soaring premiums in recent months, while the issue remains prevalent in other sectors too. Motor insurance premiums remain high and health insurance experts have warned that customers can expect increases of 6% to 8% when it comes to renewing their premiums in 2020.
Linda Murray, owner of Huckleberry’s Den in Navan and director of the Alliance, said insurance reform is ’’beyond urgent’’: "Recent suggestions that 20,000 jobs are at risk in 2020 are not unrealistic given the number of sectors facing unsustainable premium costs or loss of cover entirely."
Voluntary and community sectors will "suffer irreparable damage" if the situation isn’’t addressed, added Ivan Cooper, director of public policy at the Wheel, the national association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises.
Responding to the statement issued by the Alliance, a spokesman for the Department of Finance warned there is no ’’silver bullet’’ to the crisis:
"This is because there are many constraints faced by the government in trying to address this issue, in particular, the fact that it can neither direct the courts as to the award levels that should be applied nor can it direct insurance companies as to the pricing level, which they should apply in respect of businesses seeking insurance."
"However, the Department is continuing to work to ensure that the recommendations of the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) are implemented.
n this regard, it expects to publish the tenth Progress report of the CIWG Update shortly.
Additionally, the newly established Judicial Council will continue to meet in order to respond to the issue of personal injury payouts, the spokesman added. This council was established late last year. Among its responsibilities is the review of personal injury guidelines. It is expected to establish a Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee (PIGC) by April 28.
The PIGC will be required to submit draft guidelines to the Judicial Council by October 28.
'Sustainable reduction in costs'
"Undoubtedly the single most essential challenge which must be overcome if there is to be a sustainable reduction in insurance costs particularly for small businesses is to bring the levels of personal injury damages awarded in this country more in line with those awarded in other jurisdictions," the Department of Finance spokesman said.
"While the Government cannot interfere in the Judicial Council’s deliberations due to the constitutional separation of powers, it is hoped that the guidelines will take into account the Personal Injury Commission’s benchmarking report, and can come into operation as soon as possible following their submission to the Judicial Council.
On the assumption that the PIGC guidelines result in lower and more consistent awards, the Department believes that insurers should reflect this in reduced premium levels and that they should broaden their risk horizons.