The Government's Working Group on the Cost of Insurance publishes its second report today, with businesses its main focus. The report includes 15 recommendations and could lead to a number of legislative, regulatory and legal changes over the next year.

Transparency is a word that crops up regularly in this working group report. "The lack of transparency makes it difficult to analyse exactly what's happening with insurance," said Minister of State and working group chair Michael D'Arcy. "Insurance companies have different models and because of those and the way they operate it is very difficult to get a handle on exactly how they operate." 

To try to remedy that, the working group is asking the Central Statistics Office to pull together information relating to the cost of insurance to business. This would then be released on a regular basis, making it easier to compare details across the various companies. It also wants the Central Bank to look into the feasibility of putting data relating to public and employer liability insurance into the national claims information database that has been established primarily to deal with the motor industry.

Beyond that, the report suggests that officials look into the possibility of capping some personal injury awards - particularly relating to the likes of whiplash and soft tissue injuries. The cost of claims is often cited by insurance firms as the main reason for high premia.

However Mr D'Arcy says that every part of the equation needs work. "Everybody wants to point a finger at somebody else in relation to insurance," he said. "Everybody wants to blame lawyers, insurance companies, the judiciary - but having chaired this group for the last six months, everybody needs to do something.."

The vast majority of insurance claims relate to soft tissue injuries and the report's analysis says that payments for such claims are generally in excess of what is offered in other countries. However Mr D'Arcy says that payments on far more serious injuries are often below international averages - meaning that while there is scope for some claims to fall, others may rise.

Overall, though, the report hopes that its recommendations will lead to a reduction in insurance costs for many businesses. Mr D'Arcy said its work on motor insurance has had that effect and he is looking for a repeat of that success in the area of employers and public liability insurance rates.

"In terms of motor insurance, it has reduced the cost of motor insurance by 15% year on year, which is a big improvement," he said. "What we'd like to try to see in relation to employers liability and public liability is something similar, because this costs people jobs, this closes facilities, it closes pubs, hotels and restaurants because the insurance costs have gone up," he said.

MORNING BRIEFS - Swiss-Irish food company Aryzta has cut its full year earnings forecast for 2018, citing underperformance in Europe and a slower-than-expected implementation of a turnaround plan at its North American business. Aryzta, best known here for its Cuisine De France brand, had previously projected its 2018 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and Amortisation to be in line with 2017. However it now expects it to be 15% lower on a like for like basis.

*** Drinks group Diageo enjoyed a rise in revenue in the six months to the end of December, despite a fall in sales volumes. The owner of brands like Guinness and Smirnoff saw sales rise by 2% to £6.5 billion, with operating profits up 6% to £2.2 billion. In Ireland, Diageo said sales were flat overall, though its spirits brands performed particularly well.

*** Employment services group CPL Resources has announced an 11% rise in pre-tax profit in the first half of its 2018 financial year. The firm earned €9m on the back of a 12% increase in revenue to €256.7m.

*** Broadcaster Sky saw its revenues rise by 5% in the last six months of 2017, while its operating profit jumped by 24%. The company said that its revenue in Ireland and the UK rose by 4%