THERE has been a fall in the number of claims made to the State body that handles insurance awards, raising questions about sharp rises in premiums.
Fewer claims were made last year and there was a smaller number of awards approved by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.
Insurers have constantly claimed that one of the main reasons they need to increase premiums is due to claims trends.
But new figures from the board show a fall in motor, public and employer liability claims.
And that meant that fewer awards were paid last year.
The board is an independent State body which assesses personal injuries compensation cases.
All personal injury claims must come through the board, unless settled early between claimants and insurers.
Cases can only go to the courts if either side rejects an award, or a respondent does not agree to an assessment. Most claims are settled privately by insurers, outside the board and the courts, but claims totals submitted to the board are an indicator of claims trends.
Figures from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board show that last year there were 33,114 personal injury claims submitted to it, down almost 1,000 on the previous year.
There were 5pc fewer motor claims, with 3.5pc fewer public liability claims, and a fall of 7.5pc in the number of employer liability claims.
This comes after motor premiums shot up by 70pc over a recent three-year period. These have since fallen back slightly, according to official figures. Businesses are now claiming they are the focus of premium hikes, with firms saying premiums have doubled in many instances.
The board made 12,663 awards last year, down 300 on the previous year. The awards totalled €315m.
Half were for amounts up to €20,000. A third of the awards were between €20,000 and €38,000. Another 13pc of awards were between €38,000 and €100,000. Some 105 were for sums more than €100,000.
The average award value increased slightly from €24,305 in 2016 to €24,879 in 2017, reflecting the nature and severity of the cases assessed during the year. The highest award in 2017 was €605,095.
Most awards were for motor accidents. Workplace accidents as a proportion of awards rose slightly to 10pc.