The Injuries Board has published its annual overview for 2015, showing a 6% increase in new claims.
In the Injuries Board, previously known as the PIAB, annual report, the Injuries Board said that the increase reflected increased economic and social activity and was not unexpected given there are more people at work, higher traffic volumes and higher footfall in public areas. More people, more activity more claims.
All told, the Injuries Board made 11,734 awards for personal injury compensation and delivered a total of €268.4 million in compensation in 2015, compared to 12,420 awards and €281.2 million compensation in 2014.
There were 11,734 compensation awards last year, with the average payout much the same as in 2014 at just over €22,800.
The Injuries Board said the reduction in awards was not an indication of any change to underlying claim volumes but is due to the timing of awards, with some volume from 2015 pushing into the first quarter of this year so that we can expect some significant increase in 2016.
The Injuries board said that looking forward to the end of this year, underlying award volumes will average 12,000 over a three-year period as compared to approximately 1,500 personal injury cases adjudicated in the courts annually.
It said the breakdown of awards remained steady, with motor liability accounting for 75 per cent of awards, employer liability making up 8 per cent of awards and public liability claims responsible for at 17 per cent.
It is believed that the motor insurance industry is raising the cost of premiums to “boost profitability” in the wake of the economic downturn, Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe has been advised by officials.
A briefing document, released under the Freedom of Information Act, shows scepticism within the Department of Transport about industry claims that premiums are rising because of rising compensation awards. Most motorists think that they are right on this.
By contrast, the cost of processing cases in litigation can be up to 60 per cent of the compensation awarded. The more cases that can be processed through the Injuries Board without the need for litigation, the greater the impact on claim costs.
According to Irish insurers, “the average motor injury award made by the Injuries Board is very high at approximately €21,000”.
“Also, more than 90 per cent of claimants to the Injuries Board are represented by solicitors even though the Injuries Board was meant to be a lawyer-free zone.” The injuries Board was set up to cut the legal profession out of the claims process.
However, many motorists have experienced double-digit rises in insurance costs, the document states, for a variety of reasons cited by the companies including “under pricing”, “fraud”,” drops in investment income”, “the cost of settling claims and increases in awards due to a change in court jurisdictions”. Nowhere is it mentioned that the current “witch” hunt by the Irish Law Society against “claims harvesting companies” as a reason for decreasing premiums. Nearly all experts agree that these tactics by the Law Society are purely more money and profits for the solicitors.