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Progress report Personal injury payouts fell by 50 percent since end of April

New compensation laws came into place on April 24 of this year

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Personal injury payouts have halved since the new laws kicked in. Photo: Stock image

Personal injury payouts have halved since the new laws kicked in. Photo: Stock image

Personal injury payouts have halved since the new laws kicked in. Photo: Stock image

The average payouts for personal injury claims have decreased by 50pc since the end of April, Cabinet ministers are to be told.

Early data from the new Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) will show that since insurance reforms were enacted at the end of April, payouts for personal injury cases have halved.

Insurance reform groups have previously called for compensations to be cut by at least 80pc.

In a memo which will be presented to Cabinet tomorrow by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, the six month progress report for the 66-point Action Plan for Insurance Reform indicates that the average award has decreased by around 50pc.

While the action plan was originally published last December, reforms did not come into law until April 24.

The week before new laws came into place saw a “surge” in personal cases lodged in the High Court, according to a spokesman for the Courts Service.

The new set of personal injury compensation guidelines, called the Personal Injuries Guidelines, replaced the Book of Quantum which typically recommended higher awards for whiplash and other types of injury.

The PIAB and the Courts now consistently awards damages in line with the new guidelines, which have reduced the likelihood for claims to go to the lengthy and costly litigation process.
Insurance reform is a “major priority” for the Tánaiste, according to his spokesperson, as this would make “Ireland’s insurance sector more competitive and consumer-friendly, supporting enterprise and job creation”.

While the new laws only kicked in at the end of April and cases lodged since then may not have yet been settled or heard in court, it may be the case that the lower thresholds are already having an impact on payout amounts.

Mr Varadkar previously told the Dáil that the main cure for whiplash appears to be compensation.

Other goals of the insurance reform action plan are to reduce the number of personal injury cases, bringing down the cost of legal claims as well as reducing the statute of limitations.

The Government hopes to give additional powers to the PIAB and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in the coming months.

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It will also enhance the National Claims Information Database in the hopes of publishing more frequent data and developing measures in relation to fraud and occupier’s liability.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform urged the Government to avoid leaving any sector behind as insurance reforms are implemented.

It said that dozens of sectors are struggling to get insurance cover or are increasingly vulnerable due to a lack of competition among insurers in their sector.

Peter Boland, director of the Alliance, said that while he welcomes the new personal injury awards, this is of “no value” if sectors cannot get cover.

“We warmly welcome the implementation of the new judicial guidelines on personal injury awards which came into effect in April; and we expect this and other measures in the pipeline to apply significant downward pressure on premiums,” he said after a meeting with junior minister at the Department of Finance Sean Fleming.

"But all that reform is of no value if you cannot get cover or there is only one underwriter prepared to offer cover.”

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