Reforms are doing little to stop liability insurance costs from rising in Ireland – and businesses are bearing the brunt of the heavier bills, according to a new survey from the Alliance for Insurance Reform.
Liability insurance is cover taken out by businesses, charities, community groups, and sports and cultural organisations to meet the cost of any claims for injury or damage to properties at events organised by them.
The survey found that liability insurance premiums have increased 16% in the 12 months since new judicial guidelines were implemented, negatively impacting business growth for more than two-fifths of respondents. Similarly, charities and other voluntary organisations have stopped providing additional services to maintain their operations.
The new guidelines on personal injury awards were meant to lower insurance costs – and, according to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, they did. The board reported a 47% drop in the average award in personal injuries cases, but the result still failed to stop premiums from increasing.
“Insurers are simply not passing on the benefits of recent reforms to liability insurance policyholders,” said Peter Boland, director of Alliance for Insurance Reform. “Equally, other reforms that would impact on liability premiums are not happening fast enough.”
Because of this, 90% of respondents still felt the government was not doing enough to fix the issue. Eoin McCambridge, managing director of McCambridge’s of Galway, has spent an estimated €800,000 on insurance cover within the last decade. He called on the government to reform the current duty-of-care legislation.
“The duty-of-care is effectively absolute. If someone walks into my shop and anything happens to them, it doesn’t matter what I’ve done, I am responsible,” McCambridge said, as reported by The Irish Times. “There is no thought of personal responsibility. We have people suing for falling down stairs, but they were on their mobile phones texting, yet the claim succeeds.”
“[The government] must speed up promised reforms,” McCambridge added. “In particular, they must now deliver very quickly on the delayed rebalancing of the duty of care and the delayed reform of PIAB. Ultimately, they must get liability insurance premiums down to affordable levels with reforms that keep them that way.”