Dáil Éireann - Volume 603 - 31 May, 2005

Written Answers. - Insurance Industry.

  281. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Ireland’s position in the European league in respect of motor, public liability and other insurance costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18452/05]

  Mr. Martin: The national competitiveness council, NCC, in its Annual Competitiveness Report 2004 mentioned the issue of insurance costs in Ireland. The NCC’s commentary was based on data published by Swiss Re Sigma. These data, which are based on 2003 figures, depict insurance premia per capita for non-life insurance for 16 countries. This includes both motor and public liability insurance. It should be noted that these data cover expenditure on insurance, which is only a proxy for the relative price of similar insurance services in different countries. These data cannot be seen as a definitive competitiveness barometer for insurance costs.

Of the 16 countries surveyed, Ireland’s expenditure on non-life insurance was the fifth highest, with a value of $1,356. Switzerland was the highest with a value of $2,228, the United States was second highest with a value of $1,980, the Netherlands was third with a value of $1,532 and the United Kingdom, with a value of $1,441 was fourth highest. Hungary was the second lowest with a value of $148, while Poland was the cheapest with a value of $102. The average expenditure for the EU15 was $974 and the OECD’s average was $1,008.

However, these figures need to be analysed carefully as they do not always include only or all premia paid by the inhabitants of the country concerned. The NCC also reported that the use of a tort system in Ireland increases private pre[724] mia vis-à-vis Europe and the USA where the use of a no fault system reduces the level of expenditure on insurance premia.

Recent experience in Ireland indicates that the cost of insurance is falling as a result of the Government’s insurance reform programme. The CSO publishes monthly indices of costs for a number of classes of insurance. These statistics show that there was a reduction of 20% in motor car insurance between the months of April 2002, when the first motor insurance advisory board report was published, and October 2004. There are also reported reductions in the cost of premia for public and employer liability insurance.