High claims awards are thought to be behind a 204% hike in premiums since 2014 and carriers exiting from the line

Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is carrying out a market study into public liability insurance. 

The Alliance for Insurance Reform (AIR) carried out research in May revealing an average increase of 204% for Irish liability policyholders in the last five years.

It welcomed the study, but said that reforms were needed urgently, claiming the price hikes had closed businesses and left many unviable.

High claims awards

Several carriers have been reducing their coverage in the Irish public liability market, with high court awards on claims for slips, trips and falls suspected by brokers as a key factor.

Thousands of jobs are reportedly now threatened in the Irish leisure sector, as firms can’t get insurance to cover their risks.

AXA XL has pulled cover for MGA LeisureInsure’s Irish business, while AIG is set to stop offering public liability insurance to some Irish hotel customers from next year.

Endurance sports in Ireland are also at risk as a result of high payouts and the subsequent difficulties getting insured.

AIR director Eoin McCambridge said: “Ireland stands virtually unique in the scale of general damages we hand out for minor injuries.”

The problems prompted a ministerial request for a market study from the Irish minister for business, enterprise and innovation, Heather Humphreys.

The request asked that the study “should examine how the market operates, how competition works in that market and whether any practice or method of competition affects the pricing levels of public liability insurance within the market.”

The study is currently in its early stages with the terms of reference still to be finalised.

The CCPC clarified it is not investigating a breach of competition law in the public liability insurance market.