For Oral Answer on : 01/02/2024
Question Number(s): 152 Question Reference(s): 4598/24
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Finance to outline the situation with respect to community groups and festival committees acquiring insurance for the staging of local community events; if he is satisfied with the work of the Office to Promote Competition in the Insurance Market to make insurance available for such events; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
At the outset, I wish to reassure the Deputy that I recognise the concerns felt by many local community groups across the country around the cost and availability of insurance cover. Insurance reform is a key priority for this Government and is being delivered via the Action Plan for Insurance Reform with the vast bulk of the actions now either delivered or initiated. Accordingly, I understand there are providers that specialise in this area and who may take advantage of the improving insurance market conditions to expand their footprint in the sector.
Last summer, one of the key “asks” of both the insurance industry and reform campaigners was delivered – the rebalancing of the Duty of Care. The amendments to the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1995 will deliver major benefits to businesses, sporting groups and community and voluntary organisations in particular. In time, cost savings from reduced claims should also help to lower premiums for such organisations, particularly those engaged in high-risk/high-footfall areas, where claims associated with ‘slips, trips and falls’ are more prevalent. This should benefit, in particular, businesses in the tourism, hospitality and recreation/activity sectors including local community events.
One of the main changes is that the law now allows for a broader range of scenarios where it can be shown that a visitor or customer has voluntarily assumed a risk resulting in harm. In addition to being a legislative change, it is hoped that this signals the start of a cultural shift surrounding the claims environment in Ireland, which would bring us more into line with our European Union peers.
At the same time, the Office to Promote Competition in the Insurance Market, chaired by Minister Carroll MacNeill, continues to work to expand the risk appetite of existing insurers and explore opportunities for new market entrants. It has engaged closely with IDA Ireland to promote Ireland as positive environment to write insurance, and is also in regular contact with areas that are experiencing insurance issues. The number of ‘pinch-points’ have decreased significantly with insurance now available in previously difficult areas such as: equestrian activities; inflatable hire; ice-skating; sport clubs; play centres; and SMEs. Building on this success, the Office will continue to facilitate connecting consumers with relevant stakeholders in order to assist sectors in which insurance difficulties arise.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to assure the Deputy that it is Government’s intention to ensure that implementation of the Action Plan can have a positive impact on the affordability and availability of insurance across all sectors in the economy, including the staging of local community events. We will continue to monitor developments, including through the Cabinet Sub Committee for Insurance Reform.