The move changes the law on duty of care. It is a key measure in the battle to crack down on Ireland’s “compo culture”.
The aim of the reform is to balance the duty of care of clubs, property owners or businesses with the personal responsibility of customers or members of the public.
Up to now when a person has an accident and makes a claim it is often assumed that the business or club is responsible.
The change, under the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022, will mean individuals will be expected to take more responsibility for their own safety when entering a business, a club or community building.
The Alliance for Insurance Reform said the legislation includes a significant reform of the duty of care which “if commenced quickly and implemented fairly, rebalances duties owed to visitors by occupiers and ensures a fairer allocation of personal responsibility across society”.
Alliance board member and grocery store owner Flora Crowe said: “We expect the new rules regarding the voluntary assumption of risk to afford protection to a whole swath of activities where risks are willingly accepted by people well able to comprehend the nature and extent of those risks .”
She said the Alliance was calling for the immediate commencement of the duty-of-care aspect of the legislation “so that hard-pressed policy holders can begin to see the benefits intended by it”.
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Ms Crowe said that by completing legislation its progress through the Oireachtas, the Alliance expects insurers to deliver lower premiums immediately as the risk associated with every new or renewed policy has just significantly reduced.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2023 has now been passed by both Houses and will be referred to the President of Ireland to be signed into law.
“These measures strike a new and reasonable balance between the responsibilities of the owner or operator of a premises to keep their customers and visitors safe, and what individuals themselves must do when entering a business, club or community building for example.
“The passage of this legislation marks an important step in our efforts to make insurance more available and cheaper,” she said.
Junior Minister Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, who has responsibility for insurance, called on insurers to cut their premiums.
“It is now time for insurers to step up, increase their risk appetites and reduce prices in response to these developments, and to work with their customers to ensure that the benefits of this legislation can be fully realised.”
A number of new entrants have announced their intention to expand into Ireland which, she said, was a welcome development.
The junior minister said she had recently met with a number of these companies including OUTsurance, Coverys International and Revolut.
“Knowing this legislative change was on track, and now that it is enacted, has helped make Ireland a more attractive market for such new entrants to come here and set up operations,” she said.
The Alliance for Insurance Reform called on Ms Carroll MacNeill to keep a promise she made on RTÉ’s Prime Time in May to contact the chief executives of insurance companies directly as soon as the legislation was passed and seek a meeting with them to press for lower premiums.