There were also major cuts in overall claims costs as a result of a reduction of 18% in the number of personal injuries claims made to PIAB last year.
This follows a reduction in 2020 of 16% and an overall drop in claims volumes in the last two years of 31%
The decreased volume in claims combined with the introduction of the Personal Injuries Guidelines in April 2021 resulted in a decrease in overall total award values in 2021 of €49 million compared to 2020 or a huge €118 million compared to 2020.
PIAB Chief Executive Rosalind Carroll said 2021 has been a hugely significant year for PIAB.
“The introduction of the Guidelines has been the single biggest change in the personal injuries area since PIAB was first established 18 years ago. While there are very immediate impacts in terms of award values, it will take time to see the full impact in terms of reducing the amount of personal injuries litigation,” she said.
Ms Carroll said, in the interim, the very significant shift in both volume and award values must not be ignored.
The total value of awards that PIAB assessed in 2021 was €118 million less than in 2019.
“This shows major savings that will likely be mirrored outside of the PIAB system, which should translate into meaningful reductions in insurance premiums for consumers and businesses paying for cover,” said Ms Carroll.
The 2021 annual report covers the 4-month period pre- the Personal Injuries Guidelines coming in and the first eight-month period after the introduction of the Guidelines and shows the differences in average awards across the respective periods and award categories.
The guidelines brought about very significant changes in how personal injuries claims are assessed in Ireland by both the courts and PIAB with the aim of leading to more consistency and certainty in awards, reducing the need for litigation.
However, like any major change, this resulted in some initial uncertainty and volatility effecting acceptance rates for PIAB awards, but also driving up the number of cases where respondents were consenting to PIAB assessing claims.
PIAB were the first and main implementers of the guidelines.
Following the two successfully defended legal challenges to the guidelines, it is expected that there will be a gradual increase in acceptance rates and more stability in trends.
Ms Carroll said there is a lot of focus on the availability of both employer and public liability insurance and its impact on small businesses, community and recreational sectors, and our society and economy as a whole.
She said one of the important aspects of the report, “is that it shows claims volumes in these areas have reduced by 27% and 28% respectively, while at the same time we have seen significant changes to awards levels in this area.
“This gives good grounds for optimism in terms of better competition and conditions in these areas.”
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms Carroll said even though it will take time, there is a slight increase in the number of people accepting the claims that PIAB is awarding.
“It will take time, but we are starting to see acceptance rates starting to creep up. That’s where people accept the claims that we give.”
She said that while costs have started to reduce for motor claims, the same trend is not evident in other areas.
“Costs have started to come down in motor by about 10%, but we are not seeing that yet in employer lability or public liability and we know they are two areas where there are still real issues in terms of affordability and even availability in some sectors.”
Robert Troy, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with responsibility for PIAB, welcomed the report.
He said it demonstrates how PIAB continues to make a real difference to the market providing a time- effective and cost-efficient alternative to litigating personal injury claims.