Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath TD has welcomed comments from the Chief Justice Mr. Frank Clarke on the establishment of a committee to bring forward guidance on the level of personal injury claims, but has expressed frustration at the lack of a timeline.
Deputy McGrath commented, “Businesses are closing the length and breadth of the country and various community events are in jeopardy because of the cost of insurance and in many cases the non-availability of insurance. It has recently been revealed that the Galway Community Circus has been threatened with closure. According to reports, quotes were sought from some 133 insurers and only one was returned. As a result of the increase in their insurance, they have had to cut back on classes.
“This is yet another example of the insurance crisis. Of the many causes of this crisis, the level of personal injury awards, is a central element. The Personal Injury Commission reported to the Government in July of 2018 recommending the establishment of a committee under the Judicial Council to assess the level of awards and to bring forward revised guidelines. Yet here we are in November of 2019 and no such committee has been set up.
“I welcome the Chief Justice’s comments today and I welcome that there will be movement soon, but businesses are closing now as the insurance crisis rages on. I am disappointed that no timeline has been announced. We simply do not know when these guidelines will be forthcoming. Minister D’Arcy has indicated that it will be by the end of the year but that seems very unlikely at this stage.
“The Chief Justice also mentioned the lack of prosecutions for insurance fraud. This is a key problem. To date, the Government has failed to establish a publicly funded insurance fraud unit in An Garda Síochána, has failed to implement a claim by claim database and has scrapped the idea of an insurance fraud database. All these measures would help to tackle insurance fraud.
“I will be progressing the Fianna Fáil Bill today that will increase the penalties for insurance fraudsters and get them to pay the legal fees of the opposing party. This Bill needs to progress quickly through the Oireachtas and enacted into law”.