Fears that guidelines on personal injuries could raise cost of insurance

The Irish Examiner – October 18, 2016

Analysts are predicting that insurance premiums will rise further after revised guidelines were published on the cost of compensation.

The Injuries Board has published research on the level of damages paid out on personal injuries in the past two years.

This data feeds into what is called the Book of Quantum – which judges, insurers and the Injuries Board rely on when settling claims.

The Injuries Board says some awards have gone down too, but whiplash, which makes up eight out of 10 claims, has gone up by almost 10% in recent years, rising to a recommended €15,700.

Furthermore, whiplash injuries is notoriously hard to prove raising fears that such claims are exaggerated.

The details of 51,000 cases will feed into the new Book of Quantum, which recommends the level of awards for the most common type of injuries.

The book of quantum is also recommending that awards for ankle fractures increase by more than 50% to almost €55,000.

It is feared this could contribute further to the rising cost of motor insurance, which has jumped by almost 40% in the past year.

Motorists have seen premiums rise by an average of 38% in the past year, with younger drivers and business owners particularly badly affected.

Conor O’Brien, Chief Executive of PIAB, said: “The purpose of this publication, which is the result of detailed research by independent consultants Verisk, is to assess the prevailing levels of compensation in personal injury claims across the entire market. The figures reflect the reality of prevailing award levels.

“As such, formally collating and publishing this data should have a stabilising effect on award levels.”

Mr O’Brien said that the guidelines should ensure that the level of damages is “more predictable and consistent” if taken on board by all parties dealing with personal injury claims.

He said: “The updated guidelines are being published against a backdrop of a lack of data identifying precise causes for increasing motor insurance premiums.

Data gaps across the market remain and we reiterate our call for greater data transparency across the insurance market so the factors impacting premiums can be understood.”

Mr Justice Peter Kelly, President of the High Court, said: “The new Book of Quantum will provide important data to all of those making awards or agreeing settlements in personal injuries cases. The fact that the publication has been updated, covers more injuries and has greater detail, is very positive.

“While all cases are considered individually, judges will find the revised Book of Quantum very useful in informing decision-making in relation to the value of damages.”

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