The latest from the Editor’s keyboard;
The insurance tragedy that is unfolding across Ireland, as businesses close down, events are cancelled and people are forced out of jobs because they cannot insure a car and commute, is made all the worse, because it is entirely preventable. The fabric of society is being gradually pulled apart by soaring insurance premiums and the carousel of Top Trumps greed that powers the claims system.
When you have a TD making a claim for 60,000 euros because she allegedly fell off a swing on a night out, you know that this pernicious culture of entitlement has permeated every strata of society. For Ireland to save its hotels, bars, clubs, outdoor shows, road races, nursery schools, beauty salons and much more, something radical must happen. It is important for change to occur, because Ireland is truly losing its way of life, bit by bit, claim by spurious claim.
All it takes in one new law, to make the offence of making a false insurance claim punishable by prison, asset seizure and benefits sanctions. Next step, instruct the Gardai and courts to enforce that law. At the same time, the insurance companies operating in Ireland need to fight the routine slip n trip claims cases with more backbone, instead of settling out of court. Yes, there will be extra admin costs in the short term, but in a few years the message will get out; the party is over, and as if by magic, the PI claims will fall away. That is all that needs to happen to stop this insane gravy train.
I’m going to be blunt here; the politicians who run Ireland have allowed a culture of greed and duplicity to underpin the claims system so that chancers can use the courts as an ATM, grabbing a wedge of money for their next holiday, or new kitchen, as the mood tsakes them. Although many injury claims are genuine of course, there are countless cases that demonstrate the rewards for trying it on are huge, with very little potential downside for claimants.
As insurers do the maths, more brokers and underwriters will exit the Irish market, until just a handful remain. Maybe just a couple of state-backed insurers? Perhaps that’s what the Irish government want in the long term, but if so, they are condemming the population to a future without choice, where insurance is effectively another government set tax on free movement, on jobs, funfairs, road racing, adventure sports, a good night out or running a small business. And a hefty tax of 5000-10,000 euros a year at that. What do people think will happen to the Irish economy if every small trader, or an organiser of a country show has to stump up those costs?
The entrepreneurs will pack up and leave Ireland that’s what, for countries where the rapid adoption of insurtech, AI, seamless FNOL, admin streamlining and the sharing of digital data records mean insurance is efficient, verifiable, competitive and therefore affordable. Every parent who needs childcare, each pub that fancies putting on a St Patrick’s Day karaoke, any company who wants to hire out a car, agricultural machinery, a motorcycle or van, will only have the government approved insurer as a backstop. What a dismal, miserable society that would be.
The Alliance for Insurance Reform are doing some excellent work in Ireland to raise awareness of the problem, and suggest solutions. Insurers and brokers should join forces and demand that the Irish government does something practical, instead of kicking the can down the road.
A society that lacks affordable insurance ultimately becomes a lawless one, where the only back-up people have is force. That is the warning from history that everyone in this petty blame game should remember; the rule of law must prevail and those who break it by making ridiculous claims should suffer the financial consequences, not those who play by the rules.
Agree or disagree, or do you have experience of high insurance costs in Ireland affecting your life? Post a comment below