INSURANCE premiums are no longer sustainable and are jeopardising jobs in Limerick, local business owners told a meeting of the Alliance for Insurance Reform.
Representatives of a wide variety of voluntary and business interests attended the public meeting in Limerick’s Strand Hotel on Friday night when they were told that employers will be laying off staff if their premiums increase any further.
Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform said their key objective was to represent policyholders who, until now, had no voice when it came to the debate around the high cost of insurance claims and premiums.
“We have three key requirements. We need to prevent exaggerated and misleading claims being pursued and settled. We need to deliver real transparency on how premiums are calculated as well as information on how, when and why claims are settled. And finally we need consistency in the calculation of awards.”
Shane Gleeson, who owns five Spar shops in Limerick told the meeting that his insurance costs have risen by 33 per cent over the last three years and lays the blame firmly at the feet of fraudulent, exaggerated and misleading claims.
“We have challenged five claims in the courts in the past five years and won four, but we shouldn’t have to do this. Some in the legal profession are taking cases without any attempt to verify them. We have many claimants who are multiple claimants. It has become a career for some. I feel that some in legal profession are displaying a lack of integrity in the way they pursue certain cases against all available evidence”.
The increase in insurance costs has led to a reduction in opening hours and, according to Mr Gleeson, “will lead to a reduction in staff if the increases continue.”
Other contributors criticised the level of awards made by particular judges, the way fraudulent and exaggerated claims are facilitated by some in the legal profession, the effective bypassing of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board as a means of dealing with claims assessments and the lack of urgency on behalf of the Government in dealing with the issue.
“Every day members of the Alliance for Insurance Reform receive an insurance renewal which is inexplicably increased from the year before,” Eoin McCambridge said.
Alliance spokesperson, Peter Boland, revealed that a survey of 950 members of Alliance organisations, carried out in January by Amárach Research found that over the past five years, 47 per cent of respondents had seen their premiums rise by over 30 per cent, while over one fifth have even seen rises of over 70 per cent. This compares to a Consumer Price Index increase of less than one per cent in the same period.
“The report is an embarrassment to a Government that claims to be on the side of small business owners, and it needs to show backbone in taking on these sectors to protect jobs and services across the country,” he said.