17 January 2020

2019 – A Year in Review

Highlights of the year

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2019 – A Year in Review

Highlights of the year

  • Brexit and its implications continued to be a cause for concern.
  • Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) continued to issue their Quarterly Reports
  • Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018 came into effect on the 28th of January
  • Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019 came into effect on the 3rd of April 2019
  • Judicial Council Bill was signed off on the 23rd of July 2019
  • Publication of the first report from regarding the National Claims Information Database (NCID).

January saw The Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018 commencing on the 28th of January 2019. This will allow the Central Bank to gather data and publish reliable data going forward.

March saw the publication of the Eighth Progress Update Report of the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG). It appeared to be very much a tidying up exercise as recommendations that were not capable of being completed for some time were marked off as completed.

April saw the introduction of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019 coming into effect on the 3rd of April 2019 which gives greater powers to the PIAB to ensure all parties comply with the relevant legislation, with a view to a greater number of cases going through the PIAB process.

In May we saw one of the largest settlement awards in Ireland, which totalled €32.4m. Again, it showed the reluctance for plaintiffs to go down the Periodic Payment Order route. Further pressure was being placed on the and judges to get the Judicial Council Bill fast-tracked through the Dáil in advance of the summer recess.

July saw the publication of the Courts Service Annual Report. Overall, the number of Personal Injury cases were down 1.6% on 2017 (22,049:22,417). The average award, excluding medical negligence awards, was down 32.8% (€39,933:€59,482).

July also saw the publication of the PIAB’s Annual Report. New applications had risen slightly by 0.8% (33,371:33,114). Percentage of awards accepted was still only slightly in excess of 50%. The average award had reduced slightly by 0.92% (€24,879:€24,649).

July also saw the signing into law of the Judicial Council Bill on the 23rd of July. This will allow the Judges set about recalibrating of the Book of Quantum. At the time, ambitious views were that the first report would be issued by year end!

August saw the publication of the Ninth Quarter Progress Report from the CIWG. Again, this was tidying up on the work of the Board over the last number of years and emphasised the importance of the new legislation enacted in the first half of the year.

Late December saw the publication of the first report in respect of the National Claims Information Database (NCID). The report received a lot of media attention with the main focus on the fact that claims per policy reduced by 2.5% but the premium per policy increased by 42% in the same period.

The second half of the year saw a lot of media pressure on the Government to move forward so that the public could see action rather than talk in relation to the work of the CIWG. Many cases, such as the infamous “Swing-gate”, resulted in a lot of media coverage with the public calling into question the fairness of many claims and settlements.

In the wake of such public reaction, the Government has very recently stated if the reforms do not work they are open to holding a referendum in the context of bringing down the cost of public liability insurance for business and voluntary organisation.

What’s around the corner for 2020?:

  • Further update reports from the Cost of Insurance Working Group, dealing with the outstanding action points.
  • A report from the Committee set up in accordance with the Judicial Council Bill 2019 dealing with Guidelines for General Damages.
  • The enactment of the Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill and the effects it will have with regard to handling claims.
  • Brexit - what effect the deal will have on the insurance industry as a whole, if it is agreed.

Michael Whelan, Head of Casualty

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