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 Header Item Business of Dáil (Continued)
 Header Item Road Traffic Bill 2016 [Seanad]: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 933 No. 2

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An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Is that agreed? Agreed. Ós rud é go mbím anseo minic go leor mar Leas-Cheann Comhairle, ba cheart dom mo bhuíochas a chur in iúl do na Teachtaí go léir as an gcomhoibriú - an chuid is mó den am. Guím Nollaig shona oraibh go léir agus ar bhur dteaghlaigh.

Road Traffic Bill 2016 [Seanad]: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage

  Debate resumed on amendment No. 7.

In page 24, between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:

31. The Minister shall instruct all motor insurance companies to write to all present and future learner drivers stating that driving unaccompanied by a specified qualified driver and/or without displaying L plates invalidates the terms and conditions of their insurance policy and that any payment made to a third party in the event of a collision may be recouped from the learner driver and/or the main policy holder.”.

- (Deputy Thomas P. Broughan)

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan How would the Minister view this approach in terms of the insurance industry making sure that unaccompanied drivers with learner permits do not persist in driving on the public roads? This was a difficult amendment to frame. What is the Minister's view of amendment No. 7?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I am supportive of the measures that are being taken but I have a big issue with insurance companies. Young drivers - I must declare an interest because there is one in my family - now take the mandatory 12 driving lessons and sit their test, which has been tightened up considerably. The whole process is expensive. They take their test, pass it, put up their N plate and then they look for insurance, but they are penalised and victimised before they even get on the road. I am all for them being penalised and victimised if they have accidents or drive unaccompanied while on a provisional licence and so forth. However, when they try to operate within the law, they should not be penalised. They take the initiative to do the training, sit the exam, complete the 12 lessons and sit and pass the test to get a licence, but the insurance quotes are exorbitant. They can get a car for €3,000 but the insurance could be €10,000. They are victimised by the insurance companies before they are allowed on the road. They are being penalised even though they have not had an accident, have not driven for even 1 kilometre and have not made any mistakes. If they go on the road and are reckless, are caught speeding or are involved in a crash, they are penalised and we all accept that. Insurance companies penalise them and hike up their insurance.

Young people are being quoted astronomical prices. The prices are simply unaffordable and could not be paid by any family. We cannot keep passing legislation favouring the big insurance companies. We have had many debates in this House on the insurance industry and a report was recently published by the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach on the industry here. It is a total rip-off and I have said that before. We are seeing the victimisation of young people who show energy and enthusiasm and who make the effort to do things properly, to get the lessons and become qualified drivers. As soon as they get their piece of paper for the windscreen, they are penalised savagely by most of the insurance companies. No matter where they go, they cannot get an affordable quote. They end up becoming named drivers on their parents' insurance with a huge loading on the policy. There is a very serious inequity here. Young people are not being supported or recognised for doing the right thing. They get the required number of lessons, complete their driver education and training, become road safety aware and get their licence, but what thanks do they get? They are victimised. This is resulting in some opting to drive without insurance, which cannot be tolerated. Surely some respect and support should be given to young drivers. The Department must consider some initiative to ensure those learner drivers who do things properly, who make the effort and are deemed to be safe drivers by testers who are recognised by the Road Safety Authority and the Department obtain a licence that is of use to them.

I ask the Minister to consider this issue carefully. He has grandchildren of his own who will be affected, as do many Deputies in this House. We meet young people every week who want to get to work, to college and to travel independently. They want to contribute to our economy and enable it to flourish. The insurance industry should not be victimising young people who do not deserve to be punished because they have done nothing wrong. They are made criminals before they start.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness I support Deputy McGrath's comments. Has the Minister taken into consideration the recent report by the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach on this particular issue? The report deals with the cost of insurance for Irish motorists and the manner in which insurance companies are dealing with motorists in terms of covering that cost. The Irish Road Haulage Association, representatives of consumers and others appeared before the committee and provided us with facts and many examples of young people who cannot get insurance. These young drivers have not been involved in any accident, have complied with the requirements of the car test, passed the theory test on the rules of the road and so on but insurance companies are penalising them. They do this by offering them insurance quotes that are so outrageous that they simply cannot be paid. The figures that the committee heard in the course of its hearings tell us that the quotes are meant to ensure the drivers simply do not take out an insurance policy. We have young people who are trying to take up employment and do the right thing but the insurance companies are preventing them from being insured to drive on the road. There are other cases where insurance companies have refused to give quotes and, when pressed, they have offered quotes that are totally unaffordable.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Telephone numbers.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness The same argument can be made for older people. They, too, find themselves being penalised. In rural Ireland this causes great difficulties for families and individuals who are trying to get employment and, at the other end of the spectrum, for those who have retired and are simply trying to get around in their own communities. They cannot get insurance but they have done nothing wrong.

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