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Statement by Róisín Shortall, Social Democrats TD, on the serious impact of car insurance hikes and a lack of urgency from Government in tackling the issue

"Today's finding by the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) that there were 1,644 claims involving uninsured or untraced drivers on Irish roads, since January, is hugely concerning.

These figures represent an increase of 17 percent (in these categories) on the same period in 2015.

Since our foundation last year the Social Democrats has identified the rising cost of insurance, especially motor insurance, as a key area of concern in increasing family budgets.

These mounting costs now contribute greatly to the high cost of living endured by Irish citizens, and families, and insurance costs show no sign of coming down.

Motor Insurance costs have increased by approximately 39 percent in the last year alone and many drivers, younger motorists in particular, are finding it impossible to pay such high premiums.

Rocketing Insurance premiums make it completely unaffordable for many people to keep an ordinary car on the road. And as we've discovered, from today's MIBI findings, some motorists are deciding to take the very unwise move to drive without insurance.

A constituent told me recently that the cost of his insurance had doubled in the last year for no obvious reason - from €600 to €1,200. And we hear of similar, and more severe examples, from across the country on a weekly basis.

And Small and Medium-sized businesses, desperately trying to progress and prosper, are suffering as a result of increased motor tax premiums as the same kind of increases have to be applied to commercial vehicles.

Not only are these price hikes excessive and without clear and transparent explanation but they threaten the fabric of Irish society. We simply cannot have drivers on our roads using their vehicles without the correct motor insurance.

These price hikes are not fair on motorists already paying large amounts for fuel, compulsory maintenance, motor taxation and associated costs.

The Government's Inter-departmental group, established to look at the costs of motor insurance, did not hold it's first meeting until July 20th and, I understand, it is not scheduled to meet again until this Friday (September 2nd) . Where is the
Government's sense of urgency on this matter?

This is a multi-faceted issue which incorporates elements such as the claims culture, out-of-court settlements, personal injury pay-outs and much more. 

Key alternatives need to be investigated. For example, in personal-injury settlements should we consider offering compensation in other forms rather than in cash? If claimants were to receive vouchers for treatment and physiotherapy instead of a financial pay-out what impact would this have on claims?

And rather than using the Book of Quantum to project pay-outs we clearly need to establish far more evidence-based and rigorous compensation guidelines.

Additional Gardaí are required on the nation’s roads to maintain road safety and to tackle fraudsters and, as in other E.U jurisdictions, there needs to be more data-sharing between rival companies so that fraudsters can be more easily identified.

With so much to do we have little time to lose.

We, in the Social Democrats, call for more urgency and focus from the inter-departmental group and the Government itself in its efforts to tackle, what has become, this most serious issue for Irish motorists and businesses.”


For further information please contact:
Anne-Marie McNally
01-618 3591 / 086-3754315



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