141. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice if she will report on the operation of the personal injuries guidelines under the Judicial Council Act 2019; if she will consider legislative changes to monitor the passing on of benefits to consumers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57917/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I am very much aware of the difficulties faced by many small businesses and consumers in relation to the cost and availability of insurance. Insurance reform is a key priority for this Government and is reflected in the Programme for Government, the Government’s Action Plan for Insurance Reform launched last December, and in the Justice Plan 2021.
The Action Plan for Insurance Reform sets out 66 actions designed to bring down costs for consumers and business; introduce more competition into the market; prevent fraud and reduce the burden on business, community and voluntary organisations. The Action Plan includes actions to be taken by my Department, the Department of Finance and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The implementation of the Action Plan is being overseen by the Sub-Group on Insurance Reform within the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment.
As the Deputy may be aware, the Personal Injuries Guidelines were adopted by the Judicial Council to replace the Book of Quantum. The introduction of the Personal Injury Guidelines, which came into effect on 24 April, represent a very significant step in meeting our commitment to make insurance more affordable for consumers, businesses and community groups. The new Guidelines materially reduce award levels for many categories of common injuries, particularly soft tissue injuries.
I will report on the initial impact of the Personal Injuries Guidelines the end of this year.
As the Deputy may be aware, the National Claims Information Database, under the auspices of the Central Bank, ensures that both claims costs and pricing trends are monitored. To date, the database has published two comprehensive reports on the private motor insurance sector and one on employer and public liability insurance. The reports include data on legal costs, settlement channels and all the other elements that impact on the overall cost of insurance premiums.