The Taoiseach has been urged to “put manners” on the insurance companies with new laws to combat crippling premiums.

Sinn Féin has called on Leo Varadkar to introduce major reforms on how insurers do business.

It comes as the European Commission has opened a formal anti-trust investigation into Insurance Ireland.

The Commission is formally investigating whether Insurance Ireland is reducing drivers’ choice of insurance policies by preventing companies from being included in a pool of firms offering cover.

Sinn Féin president Mary-Lou McDonald told the Dáil that the investigation will be welcomed by motorists across the State who are being “crippled” by the increased cost of insurance.

However, she said insurance is not purely a problem for motorists and rising costs are impacting businesses, farmers and community festivals and events across the country.

“It is beggars belief that it has taken the EU Commission to step in here when it is clear that insurers have been ripping off policyholders for years and the Government has consistently refused to act on serious issues that have been raised,” said Ms McDonald.

We need to see a commitment to bring down prices and changes to rewards brought in and crucially we need new legislation to put manners on the insurance industry.

Mr Varadkar said tackling the issue of insurance costs is a priority for his Government.

“We have seen some progress, motor insurance for example is down about 20% from its peak in 2016, it needs to now fall further,” said Mr Varadkar, adding that health insurance costs have also stabilised.

He said the next step is Judicial Council Bill, which will provide guidelines around appropriate levels of compensation. The Taoiseach said he hopes to have this Bill though the Oireachtas by the summer recess.

But he warned: “It may be a year or two after the law is enacted before you see those results in premiums moderating or falling.”

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