Today marks the one year anniversary of the publication of the Cost of Insurance Working Group's report. The report made a number of recommendations aimed at halting runaway claim costs and surging premiums. 

Deirdre Ashe, director of personal lines at Liberty Insurance, gives an industry perspective of the report. Ms Ashe said that significant things have changed since the publication of the report, including two submissions on claims data. This is the predecessor to the National Claims Database, which will centralise the reporting of insurance claims and will give the Government and the industry more information on the biggest factors behind premium price increases. It will also allow insurers to monitor the behaviour of its own business as well as all of the businesses across the market to ensure that the decisions business units are making are 
consistent with the outlook envisioned by the insurance industry.

Ms Ashe said the market is a highly cyclical one and the industry is trying to avoid "bill shock" as a customer sees price inflation in the market. She said that while transparency on data and claims is one aspect of the issue, another major aspect in the quantum of the awards that are being allowed for personal injuries. Whiplash awards in Ireland are still multiples of what they are in other countries and Ms Ashe pointed out that over €22,000 can be awarded for soft-tissue claims in Ireland compared to €3,000 in the UK. The Personal Injuries Commission said last year that it wanted to benchmark these claims across Europe and Ms Ashe said that Liberty Insurance supports such a move.

But she added that two stakeholder groups need to come on board to make that benchmarking move a reality - the legal profession and the judiciary. According to Ms Ashe, the legal profession needs to manage the expectations of claimants and the judiciary must apply the new structures in a consistent manner. Urgent action on fraud was also key to driving motor insurance premiums lower, she added.

MORNING BRIEFS - A joint venture has been formed between real estate firm Hines and Dutch pension investor APG Asset Management to develop a €450m build-to-rent scheme of over 1,200 apartments in Cherrywood, South Dublin. Subject to planning permission the first apartment blocks are due to be completed in mid 2020. This would be state's largest build-to-rent development, where all units will be let rather than sold to owner-occupiers.

*** Global economic growth has peaked, according to the World Bank. In its annual report the bank says growth in the major developed countries will slow as they approach full employment and stimulus measures from Central Banks introduced in the wake of the financial crisis are reined in. 

*** Irish based but London listed Tullow Oil has made progress in reducing its debt pile according to an update provided to the stock exchange ahead of its annual results, due to be released in February. It expects to report net debt at the end of 2017 down from $4.8 billion to $3.5 billion. 

*** Irish food and drink exports to the UK rose by 7% last year despite the pressure on prices due to sterling weakness, Bord Bia's annual report shows. The UK remains the biggest destination for exports from the sector which hit €4.5 billion last year. The percentage share of food and drink exports going to Britain fell 2 percentage points, though, to 35%. That was largely due to strong growth in sales to other EU countries which were up 16%, primarily driven by strong demand for Irish dairy products, according to Bord Bia.