Dáil Éireann - Volume 526 - 22 November, 2000

Written Answers. - Insurance Loading.

185. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a 33% additional loading is imposed on couriers who ride motorcycles by the sole insurance company quoting such a business; and if she has satisfied herself whether there is sufficient competition in this sector of the market to ensure that such loadings are justified by the claims record, in view of the fact that no such loading is imposed in the UK. [27016/00]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Treacy): The use of loadings by insurers is extensive throughout the EU and is not subject to State regulation. EU law on insurance explicitly prevents Governments or insurance regulators from specifying policy prices or terms. Accordingly, there is no agreement or guidelines concerning loadings. Furthermore, I would regard any such intervention as anti-competitive and, therefore, not in the interests of consumers affected.

Underwriting criteria for insuring motorcyclists are normally based on underwriting experience, including trends in the level, frequency and cost of claims for particular risks and classes of risk [1005] and are a matter of judgment by individual private insurance companies.

Any changes in circumstances affecting the risk insured, would have to be assessed by the insurer, from an underwriting standpoint and the premiums charged would reflect any material increase, in the risk.

Inquiries made by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in this matter have confirmed the application of an additional loading on motorcyclists employed in the courier business, who by the nature of their work, represent a very high risk category for insurers. The loading is due to the increased level of cover involved. Motorcycle couriers have a ‘hire and reward' dimension to their risk cover, which does not apply in the insurance cover of conventional motorcyclists. Our inquiries also established a practice by UK insurance companies of increasing the premium by far greater than 33% for motorcyclists, employed in the courier business.

As in any other branch of insurance risk, reductions in premiums can only be achieved by improved safety standards. This includes creating appropriate conditions for improving standards of driving and appreciation of road safety. A number of initiatives are in place and are being taken to improve driving standards and safety awareness among all drivers, including motorcyclists. The National Safety Council, in co-operation with the Garda, continue to promote anti-speeding and anti-drink driving media campaigns.

The formation of the EU single market for insurance in 1994 granted access to the Irish motor insurance market to all authorised insurance companies within the EU.

This encourages as many insurers as possible, to compete on the market so that the Irish consumer is getting the most competitive quotes from the insurance companies availing of the opportunity to compete on the Irish market.

Question No. 186 taken with Question No. 98.