Eoghan Coyne sets out the achievements the PIAB has made and its plans for success in the future

The Personal Injury Assessment Board (PIAB) of Ireland is an independent statutory body which was established three years ago and its actions are being followed with interest in the UK.

Eoghan Coyne, operations manager from the PIAB, said: “All injury claims, excepting medical negligence cases, have to come to the board in the first instance. Consequently the remit for the board is to be an independent facilitator delivering compensation fairly, promptly, and in a transparent manner for the overall benefit of society.”

Following on from that, the objectives are to assess compensation claims, while maintaining the pre-existing award level, reduce the timelines, and the delivery.

To give some idea as to how PIAB is achieving a few years on, as part of the 2003 legislation there was a provision for an independent cost benefit analysis of the model, which was undertaken in December 2006.

Briefly the findings were that PIAB has reduced the costs of processing personal injury claims and that it has reduced the time taken to deliver assessments while maintaining the same level of awards as the courts.

“That benchmark is 75% faster than the courts,” said Coyne.

Thirdly, the PIAB model itself has promoted up front settlements with insurance companies putting specific measures in place to facilitate that.

“In addition, the Central Statistics Office in Ireland has determined that there has been a decline in the cost of insurance – a 5% in cost of motor insurance since the establishment. This has led to lower delivery costs, faster resolution and savings,” said Coyne.

To give you an example, in terms of what would have been a standards €10k settlement pre-PIAB, the costs attracted might have been in the region of €4,600, as compared to an average and flat rate PIAB costing of €1,350.

“Any reduction in the cost of delivering compensation is of benefit to consumers through reduced premiums,” said Coyne.

“The same level of compensation is being delivered to accident victims, with lower delivery costs, and in a faster time frame

Eoghan Coyne, PIAB

“The overall assessment made by the board is actually totalling €150m.

“The net saving that that has provided is €45m, and we have a projection of €40m savings per annum by 2008.”

On a larger scale, the impact of PIAB has been a culture of change in terms of the compensation culture in Ireland.

“The PIAB has facilitated that culture of change. It has promoted earlier resolution of claims. There has been a movement away from the adversarial system to a consensual system, and consequently there has been a massive reduction in the amount of cases actually going to court.”

A comparison in terms of writs issued shows that in 2001 there were 35,000 circuit and high court writs issued, in 2005 there were only 4,000 issued.

For the same in 2005, 1,805 court awards were made.

So for the future, the PIAB volumes, projected on statistical and actuarial analysis, would indicate that 40% of all of the claims will be settled pre or during the PIAB process, 40% will have awards made by PIAB, and 20% will need to be settled post-PIAB process, through recourse to litigation.

“The same level of compensation is being delivered to accident victims, with lower delivery costs, and in a faster timeframe.

“It is a customer focused and accessible service with the claimant and the respondent at the centre of the process. It is a lower cost base for the industry, there is improved employee relations and less contentious employers’ liability (EL) settlements in a non-adversarial environment.

“There are savings to the economy and the courts have been freed up. So going forward for the future, we expect, and we look forward to further participation from all of the stakeholders, the success of the model has been proven over the last three years, and it is obviously here to stay at this stage. It is important to note that it is a self funding agency, and it is an independent and fair process.”