Additional supports are to be provided to childcare providers, Senator Maura Hopkins has confirmed.

Senator Hopkins stated, “This additional payment, which will amount to €1,500 on average, will assist with the pressures in relation to insurance which have been felt within the sector in recent weeks.”

“I have received correspondence from many providers in recent weeks who were affected by the withdrawal of an insurance provider from the Irish market. I hope that this additional payment can help these providers to meet the cost of their insurance premiums for the coming year.”

“However, this is a position which we cannot tolerate into the future. The cost of insurance is not just crippling those in the early years sector but is affecting each and every one of us, be it motor, home or business insurance.”

“Over the past number of weeks both the Dáil and Seanad worked to fasttrack the new Judicial Council Act. This new Act provides for the creation of a new personal injuries guidelines committee. This new committee will be tasked with revising the guidelines for personal injuries awards. Courts will be obliged to follow these new guidelines which will see a significant drop in the levels of pay-outs. If a judge makes an award which is outside of those guidelines then they must provide justification for it in writing to the committee.”

“The Act was commenced in recent days and the Department of Justice and Equality is currently working to establish this committee. The members of the committee are to be selected by the Chief Justice, Frank Clarke.  This approach will lead to greater consistency in court awards and will lead to earlier resolution of claims and cost reduction.”

“These reforms should have knock-on effects when it comes to the insurance companies and the widespread practice of settling claims, which exists at present. Given court awards will be reduced, insurers will not agree to settlements which are at a higher level than could be obtained in a court judgment.”

“However, I want to see insurance companies held to account. Insurers who do not adequately investigate claims before they reach a settlement are placing a burden on us all. If the revised personal injuries do not reduce insurance premiums then further steps will be required. That is where members of the Oireachtas have a role to play, and we can examine the option of passing legislation to place a cap on awards for certain types of injury. But intervention such as this should be a last resort.”

“Insurance companies tell us that increasing risk is to blame for the rise in premiums. Yet each year, profits in those companies are on the rise. It is to the detriment of people in our communities.”

Senator Hopkins concluded, “I continue to work closely with many individuals and businesses across our region who are faced with the burden of unsustainable premium costs. I will continue to highlight this issue and work closely with stakeholders to ensure that balance is restored to the insurance sector in Ireland.”