Straight talking from the Editor’s keyboard;
The latest development in Ireland looks like concrete action might be taken at long last to stop the large settlements for minor injuries, which partly account for the high cost of insurance in the Republic. The problems for small business in particular have been well documented by the Irish press, with play centres, sports clubs, pubs and many others forced to close after just one claim for a personal injury causes a huge spike in premiums.
The Irish Times reports that politicians may present ideas on a PI claims settlement formula before the year end, which could break the deadlock. Insurance Ireland, which represents the dwindling band of insurers still active in the Republic has highlighted the high compensation figures paid out compared to othr markets.
The mood music seems to suggest that reforms to the PIAB, which sets typical slip and trip payout levels, is likely next year. But Ireland’s Dail has kicked this irritating can down the road many times before, so whether the right noises will translate into legislation is another matter. Something needs to be done as cover is unaffordable for mnay and that can only lead to more drivers and business owners deciding that travelling, or trading, without insurance is the lesser of two evils. Certainly cheaper.
IRELAND VS UK COMPENSATION PAYOUTS
Earlier in 2020 a waitress in Ireland was awarded 25,000 euros for cutting a finger whilst polishing glasses – a job that some might say should be within the skillset of a waitress. There were another 25K worth of legal costs on top by the way.
In North Tyneside UK, a man who had part of his finger torn off – not just cut and stitched up – after climbing a fence received just £3564 for his trouble. Meanwhile Stephensons solicitors won £6500 for a woman who tripped whilst shopping in her local town centre. Again, a paltry payout compared to the amount you could win in Ireland.
This disparity in compensation for similar injuries is one of the reasons that insurers are packing up and leaving the Irish market. Then there’s fraud, or attempted fraud. The punishment for those who try their luck on the insurance compo lotto isn’t severe enough.
While politicians seem to agree that Maria Bailey TD was not attempting fraud when she ran a 10K race after suffereing a very painful fall from a swing, many others do not share that sanguine view. Like UK MPs who blatantly fiddled their expenses some years ago, those who try to play the system need to face action in court. There have to be consequences for the few, so that the many who pay premiums and don’t make spurious claims feel that honesty is being rewarded.
In the end, insurance is a contract, a list of risks that are – or are not – covered. Once people see it as a free ride or a bingo win for some, while they get stung with premiums of 3000 euros a year, then the system itself starts to collapse.