A government minister has expressed dismay at forecasts that companies and small businesses in the Irish Republic will face premium increases of up to 50% this year for liability and commercial property insurance.

The Irish Insurance Federation, which made the forecast, blames the increases on the number and cost of claims, spiralling repair and rebuilding costs and the cost of severe weather losses over the past few years.

Irish Commerce Minister Noel Treacy said while accepting there were reasons for a rise in premiums, he was "dismayed" at the level of increase being proposed.

He urged the industry "to do everything possible to deliver insurance to its customers at a reasonable cost".

Last year, the loss in the Irish liability market was IR£37m (£28.9m).

According to Irish Insurance Federation CEO Michael Kemp, the cost of resolving a personal injury claim in the Irish Republic is three to four times more than in the UK because of higher awards and legal bills.