The Government has been accused of letting the insurance industry "off the hook" as the reduced cost of insurance claims is not being passed on to customers.

As a result of new guidelines, introduced in April, the average personal injury award has halved, Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty told the Dáil.

"But it is clear the reduced cost in claims is not being passed on to customers," he added.

Mr Doherty said his own survey shows that since the guidelines came in to effect, 58% of respondents had seen their premiums increase while only 22% saw a fall in their premiums a trend, he said, that has been echoed by the Alliance for Insurance Reform.

"That can only mean that these savings are being pocketed by the insurance industry to prop up their profit margins. That was not the purpose or the intention of the new personal injury guidelines," he said.

He said an insurance crisis has faced small businesses, voluntary and community groups for far too long.

During Leaders' Questions, Mr Doherty said insurance companies in Britain "have to show that pound for pound, the reduction in awards is passed on to consumers and this is done in an audited way".

He added "there should be no less oversight here" and that an Insurance Bill, tabled by his party, would ensure this.

The Tanáiste, Leo Varadkar, replied: "I believe the insurance industry has to reduce its premium, absolutely, and that is the message they are hearing from me."

He said there has been a reduction of 50% in payments for minor injuries, but that is based on just two months of data, and there is no data yet for what is happening when these cases go to court.

"When these cases go to court, are the judges upholding the amount awarded by the PIAB or are they increasing it? A little bit more time will be needed before we see that," he said.

Mr Varadkar said he does expect to see premiums fall.

"Insurance companies make provisions for claims that they think they are going to have to pay out. It is now reasonable to assume that they have made more provision than is necessary and they should be in a position to reduce premiums and reduce them quickly and immediately."

He said he is open to accepting the Sinn Féin Bill, but it has to be reviewed by the Central Bank, as is the case with any legislation that effects financial services.