The Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Bill 2018 was published in July 2018. It is currently before the Irish legislature (Dáil Éireann) for consideration and it is expected to be established in 2019. The Bill arises from a recommendation of The Cost of Insurance Working Group which was set up to examine the factors which are influencing the increased costs of insurance in Ireland.
Purpose of the Bill
The purpose of the Bill is to provide the Central Bank of Ireland ("CBI") with the additional function of establishing and administering the National Claims Information Database. Section 8 of the Bill provides that the CBI will collect and study data obtained from insurance companies in relation to income and costs associated with the carrying on of relevant non-life insurance business. The Bill provides that the CBI will publish a report, at least once a year, on relevant factors in certain classes of non-life insurance business including:
- the relationship between premiums and related costs;
- current and emerging trends within relevant non-life insurance business;
- factors that cause movements in the price of relevant non-life insurance business;
- statistical analysis of income and costs, claims and settlements related to relevant non-life insurance business.
The Bill provides that the data to be included in a report from the CBI or in any publication by the CBI shall be combined so that no insurance company or individual is identifiable from the data. This will ensure that information obtained by the CBI will be used in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018.
The information that will be obtained and published by the CBI will help identify factors that influence the cost of insurance. In addition, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board ("PIAB") will be permitted to access the database to gather data and statistics for analysis. It is expected that this information and data will be used to update the Book of Quantum.
The Minister for Financial Services and Insurance, Michael D'Arcy T.D, has expressed hope that information to be obtained pursuant to the new Bill will lead to a greater consistency in award levels for personal injury claims and a greater use of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.
The Bill is at an early stage in the legislative process and there is scope for amendment. One concern that has been expressed about the Bill is the handing of responsibility for the operation of the National Claims Information Database to the CBI. There is strong cross party support for the Bill but some politicians have expressed a preference for PIAB to operate the proposed database. While the CBI is an independent regulatory and supervisory body for insurance and financial services some advocates of consumer protection have raised concerns that the financial standing and solvency of insurers will be prioritised over consumer protection.Leaving aside these concerns for now, the publication of data in relation to insurance premiums, claims and settlements will greatly inform policy makers in this area. The database will also be an invaluable source of information when the Book of Quantum is being revised.