Insurance companies are “ripping off ordinary customers” and the government need to do something about, Westmeath’s councillors believe.
Cllr Johnnie Penrose, who submitted a motion on the issue of rising insurance costs at the March meeting of Westmeath County Council, said that he knows of one childcare centre whose insurance premium went from €5,000 in 2017 to €10,000 in 2018, and in May it is going to rise to €20,000.
Spiralling premiums are “doing serious damage” to small voluntary organisations, community groups and small businesses”.
“It’s unreal what is happening. They are ripping off the ordinary customer and it’s highly unfair. It’s costing jobs,” the Labour councillor said.
Cllr Frank McDermott voiced his support for Cllr Penrose’s motion.
“They [rising insurance costs] are crucifying our voluntary organisations across the county – the GAA, athletics, every strata within rural Ireland. I
“It’s high time that the government put a stop to what’s going on,” he said.
Cllr Brian Crum said that the council “has to be seen to be doing something to stand up against spiralling cost of insurance”.
In addition to small businesses and voluntary organisations being hit, Cllr Crum said that “the amount of money young drivers have to spend to get themselves on the road is shocking”.
“A man going out trying to make a day’s wages with a lorry is absolutely crucified between diesel and tax – and above all insurance. It is absolutely chronic the way the way things have been going and the way the government in this country is letting them get away with it.
“To me it should be stamped out straight away and us, a local authority, should be seen to do something,” he said.
Cllr Una D’Arcy said that she knew of one GAA club in north Westmeath that had to cancel a recent fundraiser because “insurance costs put it beyond their means”.
Cllr Bill Collentine said that insurance costs have “got out of hand” for voluntary groups and businesses.
Cllr Liam McDaniel said that he knew of a number of small businesses that are struggling to survive during to the rises in their insurance premiums.
The cathaoirleach Cllr John Dolan said one way to stop people making spurious insurance claims is to make it easier to prosecute people for committing perjury. At present committing perjury is not a statutory offence, which makes it harder to prosecute offenders.
“It’s costing councils, businesses and a lot of people an awful lot of money. I have no problem with genuine people who make claims, that’s what insurance is for. It’s these criminals, they are benefiting and we are paying the price.”