Insurers urged to deliver cuts after challenge to guidelines slashing minor injury awards fails

Insurers have been urged to “deliver their part of the bargain” by reducing insurance costs following the rejection of a lead challenge to new guidelines slashing awards for minor personal injuries.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform issued the call when welcoming the High Court judgment on Thursday dismissing the lead challenge to the judicially approved guidelines, which came into effect in April 2021 and have led to awards from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) being slashed by up to 50 per cent.

Peter Boland, director of the alliance said: “It is now up to lawyers, plaintiffs, insurers and the judiciary to respect the judicial guidelines and for insurers to deliver their part of the bargain by passing on the benefits of this critical reform in substantial reductions to the cost of liability cover and further, proportionate reductions to motor insurance costs. “

The PIAB also issued a statement welcoming the judgment, saying it “removes uncertainty and brings greater clarity” on the application of the guidelines, and finds that their introduction was constitutional.

It welcomed Mr Justice Charles Meenan’s finding that PIAB acted correctly and lawfully in accordance with legislation in assessing the claim involved in the lead case.

The intention of the guidelines is “to provide greater consistency” in awards for personal injuries, the board noted.

It expressed hope the judgment would result in more cases being resolved through PIAB’s non-adversarial claims resolution service. The PIAB service “removes avoidable costs and delivers fair awards, faster than litigation”, it stated.

Because the High Court judgment is likely to be appealed, an immediate response from the insurance industry in terms of cutting premiums is not anticipated.

Given the importance of the issues raised in the case, an appeal may be sought directly to the Supreme Court, bypassing the normal route via the Court of Appeal.

An estimated 10 other challenges concerning the guidelines, on hold pending the High Court judgment, are expected to remain on hold pending the appeal.

The lead challenge was brought by Bridget Delaney, of Dungarvan, Co Waterford, after damages for her claim for an ankle injury suffered when she tripped and fell on a public footpath were assessed by PIAB for €3,000 under the guidelines. Ms Delaney claimed she was entitled to a sum between €18,000 and €34,000 under the previous guidelines, known as the Book of Quantum.

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