Dáil Éireann - Volume 291 - 01 June, 1976

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Insurance Licences.

20. Mr. Leonard asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce the action he proposes to take to ensure that (a) companies holding insurance licences for the country actually engage in the insurance business or surrender their licences and (b) companies holding insurance licences for various types of insurance business in this county engage in all of the types of business covered by the licence or have such licence formally amended.

Mr. Bruton: I have no power to compel companies to engage in any particular type of insurance business, nor does existing law empower me to amend or revoke the licences of insurers not carrying on all the kinds of insurance for which they are licensed. The Deputy will be aware that the recent report of the committee of inquiry into the insurance industry recommended that certain powers should be taken by law in this latter regard, and I am at present considering this along with the other recommendations of the committee.

Mr. O'Malley: Is it not the position that certain companies which held licences under the 1936 Act to carry motor insurance but which did not do so and carried on more profitable forms of insurance found their licence for the other forms withdrawn unless they were prepared to carry motor insurance as well?

[467] Mr. Bruton: I do not think that any such power existed.

Mr. O'Malley: Have not a number of such companies recently given up their licences under the 1936 Act?

Mr. Bruton: I do not have any information on licences being surrendered. I can tell the Deputy that the power referred to in his question does not exist. We are considering insurance legislation whereby some power designed to achieve the objectives contained in the Deputy's question could be taken.

Mr. O'Malley: Is it the Minister's current practice when he is issuing a licence for a number of forms of insurance business to insist that the company carries on a bona fide trade in motor insurance?

Mr. Bruton: Strenuous efforts are being made to encourage the maximum number of companies into the motor insurance market. It is a market that requires more competition and every step is being taken to encourage more active participation in the motor insurance market.

Mr. O'Malley: Is it open to the Parliamentary Secretary to make that a condition of a licence?

Mr. Bruton: Each licence will be negotiated. I am aware of one licence which was recently granted under which the company is engaged in motor insurance business as a result of this negotiation.

Mr. O'Malley: Would the Parliamentary Secretary make it a condition that a new applicant would carry on motor insurance?

Mr. Bruton: To the maximum extent possible. There may be some cases where it would not be appropriate for a company to be in the motor market. To the maximum extent possible we will try to get them into the motor market because it is our policy to encourage greater competition in this market.