Motor insurers' big losses could send premiums even higher

A probe into anti-competitive practices in the industry is currently underway...

Irish motor insurers suffered a combined underwriting loss of €273 million last year.

According to new data from the Central Bank, these losses were 38% higher than the previous year. Investment income of €51.8m brought the total losses to just under €222m, compared to €123m in 2014. If past practice is anything to go by, that financial hurt is likely to be passed on to drivers in the form of even higher premiums.

The most badly affected company was the Irish-owned FBD Insurance, posting an underwriting deficit of €101.7m.
Some €9m in investment income meant its total loss was €93m.

Allianz and Axa had underwriting losses of more than €40m. RSA was out just under €26m. Liberty Insurance – the US group that took over the old Quinn Insurance business – and Zurich were down close to €17m.

Of the eight insurance providers headquartered outside of Ireland, AIG Europe had the biggest underwriting deficit at €26.2m. Conversely, the Irish branch of UK insurer Aviva actually made an underwriting profit of €5.7m, making a surplus of €20.5m when investment income was taken into account.

Total claims for the year were just over €1 billion, while insurers recorded a total income of €951m.

In August, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) stated that motor insurance costs were climbing 28.2% annually.

With insurers blaming everything from increases in claims and court awards to high legal costs on the hikes, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is now investigating whether there have been breaches of competition law within the sector.