The Irish insurance industry has been working hard in recent months to pin the blame for premium increases primarily on legal and compensation costs, rather than the other many industry-specific issues it faces.
I made an FOI request to the Department for Transport, Tourism and Sport on lobbying by the industry on premiums and costs. An email was released from a public relations company to the Department, suggesting what the Minister might address in his remarks at an industry event.
The industry’s representative body is Insurance Ireland, represented by Q4 Public Relations. Last year, Insurance Ireland were organising a dinner to be held on 29 September 2015 at the Merrion Hotel, with Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport an invited guest and speaker. The email concerned the structure of the event but also indicated what the industry would like the Minister to talk about.
Department officials prepared a briefing note for the Minister which outlined the industry’s concerns and included other commentary, including the view of the Injuries Board, which has repeatedly called for the insurance industry to share the information underpinning their claims.
In the Minister’s prepared speech, he addresses the issue of increased premiums and calls on the industry to establish a database of insured drivers and other matters. He does not directly address the issue of compensation levels or legal costs. No record was released of any note of the informal discussions that might have taken place.
Initially the Department sought that this FOI request be withdrawn on the basis that the Department has a limited role in the area of motor insurance. This is despite, for example, the Minister being party to the Mibi agreement that covers claims involving uninsured or untraced drivers.
Eventually the request was processed and documents were released. From the decision letter, it appears that all documents held have been released. However, no documents were released concerning two recent entries on the Lobbying Register involving the AA (informal meeting; communication with Department following press release). In addition, given recent court judgments involving the Mibi and the Setanta liquidation it is surprising that no records have been released about that case.