Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has described the news of the massive increase in the huge profits of insurance companies as further evidence that despite industry spin the real cause of spiralling insurance costs is not down to claims or awards, but a continuation of customers being ripped off.
The Sinn Féin TD said government policy must now reflect this reality and any proposed reforms that benefit the industry must be matched by clear verifiable commitments from insurance companies to reduce premiums.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“The huge increase in profits for insurers must mark the end of patience with an industry that has spun and blustered its way through years of unjustifiable price increases while being treated with kid gloves by successive governments. Let’s not forget that this sector is under formal investigation by domestic and EU competition authorities.
“The €227 million in profits that were made by the industry last year represents a 1,300% increase in their profits from the previous year. This is clear evidence that these companies are involved in blatant price gouging.
“I believe that the industry is spinning and bluffing, and it needs to be called out.
“Any reforms that benefit the industry must be matched by clear verifiable commitments from them to reduce insurance premiums to their customers. This was previously done in 2002 by Insurance Ireland’s predecessor the Insurance Industry Federation.
“The Central Bank’s insurance database must be extended to include public liability insurance immediately and the CSO or some other body must put in place a way of measuring the cost of insurance for businesses and motorists that is reliable. We are years into this crisis and still lack the most basic transparency over pricing for a product that is compulsory.
“Sinn Fein met with the relevant Minister recently and expressed our deepest concern at the ongoing crisis and its negative effect on business and our society. We made it clear that we intend to advance far reaching proposals in our Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill to reform how insurers operate.
“We all need to accept that there are clearly issues with awards and fraud that need to be dealt with. We need to have a zero tolerance to fraud and exaggerated claims but there is no proof that these issues are the cause of the large increases.
“The reality is we lack the transparency to know if such a link exists and successive government policy up to now has been based entirely on accepting carte blanche the industry’s word that this is the cause of increase premiums. This assumption must end.
“Citizens who are in injured through no fault of their own are entitled to claim compensation but the rip off by insurance companies as evidenced by their huge profits is further evidence that despite industry spin the real cause of spiralling insurance costs is not down to claims or extortionate awards. It is a continuation of the time old practice of ripping off its customers.”