LIMERICK City and County Council paid just over €4m for insurance in 2016 – close to a 20% rise on 2014 – the Leader has learned.
IPB insurance was paid €4,031,057.55 for cover in 2016, €3,785,890.28 in 2015 and €3,440,799.68 in 2014, a Freedom of Information request reveals.
Mayor Kieran O’Hanlon said all types of insurance payments have “gone out of hand” and called for those who successfully claimed against the council to be named.
To put the sums of money in context the total amount invested in Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal district in 2016 was €7.25m.
Asked for the top five pay-outs, the reply read: “IPB are not in a position to disclose this information as it is felt to be commercially sensitive.” They said trips, slips and falls are the most common cause for claims but declined to disclose the average pay-out.
Mayor O’Hanlon said: “I would say all types of insurance payments are gone out of hand at this stage. And I think the insurance companies are partly to blame for it, in that they are settling claims without contesting. On the other hand, the type of claims that are getting through the courts leave a lot to be desired. I know that there is a separation of Government and judiciary but some guidelines are going to have to be given I think.” He says the majority of claims are genuine but that a percentage are “dubious at best”.
“I did ask the question at our budget meeting - was it possible to publish the list of those claiming, and those successfully claiming, because my understanding is that you will find in some cases that if it's narrowed down, some people will have claimed quite a number of times. And maybe they are very accident prone but it’s hard to believe it. I think you may find it in families as well.
“The answer I was given was for data protection reasons it's not allowed to be published. I think the Government again should look at that, the data protection legislation, where people are claiming from the public purse. I feel that all public money - the same as me as a councillor, my expenses go on the paper and I’m quite happy with that - should be accounted for. I feel if that was allowed it may be a deterrent,” said Mayor O’Hanlon.
Chair of the Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal district – which gets less than double what is paid on insurance – Cllr Eddie Ryan said it is “crazy money”.
“It is an increase of €600,000 in two years. It could be spent in so many other areas – what we have to do to get 10 grand for something... We have to cure the cause which are the defects in kerbs, footpaths, roads and then try and get premiums down. So we have to spend money to get it right,” said Cllr Ryan.