Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has called on the government to quit stalling on insurance reform. The Sinn Féin TD said that many firms are receiving huge increases from insurance companies describing them as a killing blow to local business and said that it is time to call this out for what it is – a market failure.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Going on the amount of phone calls to my office and media coverage across the State it looks like local and small businesses are facing huge increases for insurance cover again this year.

“Just this week another adventure centre in Meath was forced to close after receiving a 100% increase in its insurance cover from €20,000 to €40,000

“Many of the local companies who have contacted me are reluctant to speak out publicly on their personal finances, but they say they’re being crippled by the demands of insurance companies, describing the quotes as out of touch with reality and a killer blow to small business.

“Insurance companies in Ireland appear to be able to charge anything they want and are facing no government action.

“The unfortunate reality is the government are stalling on insurance reform and it is slowly killing local businesses across the State. We still have no Garda Insurance Fraud Unit and no evidence the government’s promised legal changes to review awards.

“Worryingly there is also still no movement from the government on Sinn Féin’s Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill which would level the playing field so that the consumer is better equipped to stand up to the insurer and argue the toss.

“Small businesses need to see a change, they cannot afford any more dragging of heels from government. We need to call this out for what it is – a market failure.

“Unless the insurers move quickly to rectify the market failure, the State must mobilise its resources. By declaring this fact and engaging with Brussels on that basis, there will be scope for more direct State intervention to save jobs and businesses in the immediate term.

“This is not a step to be taken lightly, but we cannot ignore what’s happening on the ground in local communities.”

Crowe continued

“An immediate meeting with insurers needs to take place and it needs to be made clear to them that if they do not act, the State will. Furthermore, it should be indicated to them in the strongest possible terms that any State intervention will not be limited to unprofitable areas of the market but will be cross-cutting.

“The worst of both worlds would be the State allowing insurers to cherry pick what areas of the market they wish to serve, while the State carries the burden in unattractive parts of the market. Insurers are making large profits and must uphold their part of the deal – to provide insurance at affordable prices to a guaranteed market. This week, it is the leisure market, but next week could be another domino in the chain of businesses hurt by this failure

“For businesses, in certain sectors at least, there is a complete failure of the market to provide a fair insurance rate. Surely when the market fails as it has, the State must act speedily to protect jobs, businesses and local community services.”