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Insurance Premiums

Volume 407: debated on Tuesday 24 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many jobs in Northern Ireland have been lost where the reason given was high insurance premiums in each year since 1997. [120367]

It is not possible to identify the number of jobs that have been lost as a result of high insurance premiums in Northern Ireland as information on the reason for job losses is not provided when redundancies are confirmed to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on (a) the changes in the number of insurance underwriters in Northern Ireland and (b) the impact of the level of insurance premiums in Northern Ireland.[120368]

The Financial Services Authority has confirmed that details regarding the geographical spread of insurance underwriters within the UK are not available.A recent survey of Business Insurance Premiums in Northern Ireland carried out by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) indicated that there was an average percentage increase of 28 per cent. in 2001 compared with 2000 and an average percentage increase of 49 per cent. in 2002 compared with 2001. DETI has been engaged in a number of activities aimed at alleviating the situation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many small businesses in Northern Ireland have made representations to Invest Northern Ireland and its predecessors about the level of insurance premiums in each year since 1997.[120369]

It is not possible to quantify the specific occasions on which the cost of insurance premiums has been raised with Invest NI or its predecessors. I can confirm that over the last 18 months there has been an increasing number of companies highlighting substantial rises in their insurance costs to Invest NI and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. My Department is actively working to ensure that the Northern Ireland dimension to this problem is recognised within Government.In response to the concerns raised by client companies, Invest NI has instigated five regional insurance seminars involving an experienced practitioner from the insurance industry, together with a leading risk assessor, to advise companies on ways to maximise insurance protection whilst minimising the costs of insurance premiums.