For Oral Answer on : 22/06/2023
Question Number(s): 147 Question Reference(s): 29961/23
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Finance if he will outline the progress made to date by the Office to Promote Competition in the Insurance Market as it continues to work to help to attract new entrants into the Irish market; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Insurance reform is a key priority for this Government as evidenced through the implementation of the Action Plan on Insurance Reform as overseen by a specific Cabinet Committee Sub-Group chaired by the Tánaiste. The latest Implementation Report demonstrates that significant progress has been made, with 90 per cent of the actions contained in the Action Plan now being delivered or initiated.
The establishment of the Office to Promote Competition in the Insurance Market in December 2020 was a Programme for Government commitment. Its aims are to help expand the risk appetite of existing insurers and explore opportunities for new market entrants, thus increasing the availability of insurance. The Office, chaired by Minister of State Carroll MacNeill, includes officials from my Department as well as the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
Since its establishment, the Office has conducted intensive and ongoing engagement with a range of stakeholders, including insurance companies and representative organisations. As part of this, the Office is working closely with IDA Ireland to help leverage the ongoing reforms with the objective of targeting new entrants to the Irish market, or persuading current incumbents to expand their risk appetite. This will, in the first instance, target providers who offer insurance in areas which have been identified as ‘pinch-points’ in the Irish market, such as high-footfall/activity sectors having difficulty in obtaining public liability insurance.
The Office has had success in assisting to remove ‘pinch points’ in the insurance market, with various solutions found for a variety of sectors including childcare, equestrian and inflatable hire. In addition, there have been announcements from new entrants to the market, as well as commitments by existing insurers that they will expand their risk appetite to cover new areas, particularly in the SME space. This is a welcome development and I am hopeful that sectors currently experiencing issues with the availability of insurance will be positively impacted.
Upcoming developments, such as the reform of the “common Duty of Care” (via amendments to the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1995), will further enhance the insurance market by addressing the issue of ‘slips, trips and falls’ which is particularly prevalent in high-risk public-facing sectors.
I wish to assure the Deputies of my intention to continue to work closely with my Government colleagues to ensure further implementation of the Action Plan which, in tandem with the work of the Office to Promote Competition, should have a positive impact on the affordability and availability of insurance for all consumers.