FBD warns of increased premiums for car insurance

Insurance group FBD has said increases in premiums are needed this year, particularly to help the industry to cope with claims from flooding and freezing this winter.

In a trading update released to coincide with its Annual General Meeting in Dublin, FBD said claims linked to the severe cold weather in January had cost it €12m. This is in line with a previous estimate.

The company said home and business insurance premiums had risen in the first three months of this year, but motor insurance rates had been slower to increase.

FBD said the value of insurance premiums written in the first quarter rose for the first time in three years, mainly due to higher prices.

Despite the weather-related claims, the insurance company said overall there were fewer large claims in early 2010 than in the same period last year.

900 jobs to go at Quinn Direct Insurance

900 jobs are to go at Quinn Insurance offices, with the jobs to go on a voluntary basis.

Read statements from Quinn Insurance and the employees.

It is expected the cuts will happen over a 12-15 month period.

The biggest job losses will be in the largest office, Blanchardstown, which currently has a staff of around 800.

Around 301 jobs will go there – 65 in the first phase, which will take place over the next two to three months.

The head office in Cavan will lose around 226 jobs out of 700, with 121 going in the first phase.

In Enniskillen 179 jobs will go with 87 going in the first phase.

Navan will be particularly badly hit, with around half the workforce going, 109 out of 220. 37 will go in the first phase.

In Manchester, 48 out of the 100 jobs will go.

The redundancies will be voluntary and staff must come forward by 19 May and will result in a saving of thirty million euro per year for Quinn Insurance.

The administrators said projected redundancies could be reduced if more customers are won.

‘This is a difficult announcement to make and a considerably more difficult announcement for the workers of Quinn Insurance to hear. The scale of what we face is considerable,’ joint administrators Paul McCann and Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton said.

‘Unfortunately, this process is necessary in order to sustain and grow a viable insurance business.’

They said that they will continue to talk with the Financial Regulator in order to allow profitable business lines in Britain to be reopened. But certain loss-making lines of business will cease, they added.

Minister for Enterprise Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe said he intends to meet with the administrators of the Quinn group later this evening to hear their view of the Quinn Insurance company.

He said the Government want to see what their plan is for the future of the company and to evaluate those plans.

Asked why he did not meet the administrators before today’s announcement he said that would not have been appropriate.

Minister O’Keefe described the job cuts announcement as devastating for the workers and their families. He said the Government would do everything in their power to try to get replacement jobs.

He said he is putting an inter-agency group in place comprising of Enterprise Ireland, FÁS and others to support workers who will lose their jobs.

The redundancy terms to be offered to staff will include four weeks pay per year of service on top of the usual statutory entitlements.

‘The restructuring process has taken into consideration a business plan which, we are confident, is realistic in the context of what it known and expected about conditions in our markets,’ the administrators said.

The administrators said they have received more than 40 expressions of interest from outside parties in buying Quinn Insurance.

They say the contacts were made without being asked for and no discussions on them had yet begun.

The administrators say Quinn Insurance should be sold as a going concern as its value in its business model, its people and its claim management system.

Certain lines of business which is no longer profitable will not be re-opened by the administrators

Earlier, the Quinn Group said it had ‘reluctantly’ decided that it should sell its Quinn Insurance business.

Quinn Group said that, in view of the funds needed to meet the requirements laid down by the Financial Regulator, the future of Quinn Insurance was probably best protected under new ownership.

‘Accordingly we will be working closely with the joint administrators to see if this objective can be achieved in as short a time as possible with the hope that this will protect the maximum number of jobs,’ the statement said.

Convoy of trucks to stage Dublin Quinn protest

A demonstration against the ban on Quinn Insurance writing new business in the UK will begin at tomorrow morning at 8am, according to organisers.

A convoy of more than 300 trucks is expected to leave a truck stop on the M7 at Naas, Co Kildare.

It will travel to Kilmainham, through St John’s Rd West and onto the north quays, where it is expected at approximately 8.30am.

The protestors will continue up the north quays and over Memorial Bridge to the south quays.

They will complete a second circuit around the north and south quays before making their way back through Kilmainham onto the N7 and back to Naas via the M7.

AA Roadwatch has advised road users to try and get into the city before 8.30am when the trucks are expected.

One of the organisers, Barry O’Reilly, said ‘around 300’ trucks were expected to take part in the demonstration.

The Irish Government €5,000 grant offered to electric car buyers

 The Government is to provide a €5,000 grant to incentivise the public to purchase electric cars.

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan said the grant would make electric vehicles comparable in price to conventional cars, but they would run at 20% of the cost.

The Government wants Ireland to become an effective test site for electric cars, with a goal of 10% of all vehicles running on electricity by 2020.

Last year, the Government signed a strategic deal with Nissan Renault, and today Renault is showcasing its new electric vehicle, the Fluence.

The ESB has already committed to installing 1,500 charging points across the country before the end of next year.

Quinn Insurance News – Talks on Quinn Group to resume

Talks between representatives from Anglo Irish Bank and the Financial Regulator will resume today after attempts to reach agreement over its proposal to refinance the Quinn Group ended without resolution last night.

The state-owned bank is seeking a postponement of a High Court hearing tomorrow, to confirm the appointment of administrators to Quinn Insurance.

Quinn Insurance has said it requires a cash injection of €100-150m to meet the solvency level requested by the financial regulator.

New car registrations up 90% for March

Today’s statistics from the Motorcheck.ie Car Index show that a dramatic increase in new car registrations for March has reversed last years trend of falling sales for the first quarter.

The official figures for March show an increase of 90% for passenger vehicles registered in Ireland as against the same month in 2009 (7,291 registered in March 2009 as against 13,861 for March 2010). Year-to-date statistics for the industry show passenger sales have increased 38% from 31,064 to 42,795 on an overall basis.

Trend Reversed?

Motorcheck’s figures show that sales fell between February and March by 605 units in 2009. However statistics for 2010 demonstrate a clear u-turn with registrations actually increasing by 1,544.

Commenting on the new trend, Motorcheck.ie Director Shane Teskey says “A buoyant used car market encouraged car rental companies to sell their older cars and refresh their fleets with newly registered cars (hire drives) in the first quarter this year. It appears that a significant number of these cars were registered in late March which would have supported the overall increase seen so far this year”.

‘Hire drives’ are vehicles that are registered specifically for car rental companies and normally return to the used car market after six or nine months on rental duty. Although accounting for a significant portion of new cars sold so far this year, the car rental industry is still experiencing a shortage of cars. Operators in the sector blame the lack of available finance as a serious problem for car dealers that would normally supply much greater numbers of new cars to the rental industry.

“Banks that previously would have supported car dealers with short term finance arrangements for hire drives are now running scared” says Teskey. “One rental company informed Motorcheck that they registered at least 50% less cars this year than last and could now be forced to rent older cars”.

League Table

Top of the table for ‘Manufacturer’ in March is Ford with 1,976 (14% of the total market) registrations. This represents an increase of 125% for the manufacturer when compared with March of last year.

The Nissan Qashqai is the number one selling model for March with 773 units (an increase of 221% on last year) followed by the Ford Focus at 718 (an increase of 135% on last year).

Diesel continues to outsell Petrol with 63% (8,790) of new vehicles registered.

Over 76% of all vehicles registered fall into the lower CO2 categories. Band A represents 4,550 vehicles with Band B totaling 6,120.

Silver and Black continue to be the most popular colours (25% and 24% respectively) and 58% of all passenger vehicles registered falling into the body type category of hatch / lift back.

Cavan Chamber of Commerce – Rally in support of Quinn Insurance

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quinn direct insurance

Cavan Chamber of Commerce has announced is is to hold a rally in support of Quinn Insurance and its employees in the town next week.

The rally will take place next Wednesday at 5.30pm in the town centre.

The organisers say they hope a large number of Quinn employees will join the event, along with workers from other businesses on both sides of the border.

President of the Chamber Eamon McDwyer said Quinn Insurance employed 2,800 people and is vital to the economic life of the area.

On Tuesday the High Court appointed two joint provisional administrators to Quinn Insurance Ltd.

Mr Justice John Cooke made the order following an application by lawyers on behalf of the Financial Regulator under the 1983 Insurance Act.

Michael McAteer and Paul McCann from Grant Thornton were appointed by the court and were instructed to begin their work immediately.

Mr McCann said customers in Ireland would not be affected and a decision on whether to sell the company would be made in the future.

The court heard the Regulator took the action following serious concerns about the way the group was managing its affairs.

The administrators will have the option of seeking well-capitalised new owners for the business.

The Regulator said Quinn Insurance’s Irish policy holders can continue to renew policies, carry out new business and make claims in the normal way.

It said the appointment of administrators would better protect policy holders.

Yesterday businessman Sean Quinn defended the management of his insurance companies and said the decision to appoint administrators is causing major damage and threatening thousands of jobs.

In an exclusive interview with RTÉ News, Mr Quinn said there was no question of his company being involved in any impropriety.

He described the Financial Regulator’s decision as one of the biggest errors ever in the history of corporate Ireland’.

Mr Quinn also rejected claims by the Regulator and the Minister for Finance that his company had failed to disclose information about its finances until a few days ago.

Alos yesterday around 300 workers from across the Quinn group gathered outside the Dáil to protest against the move.

The workers handed in a letter, calling on the Government to support the workers and to protect their jobs as it has done in the past with the withdrawal of multinational companies.

Donal Crotty, speaking on behalf of the employees, said ‘the actions taken by the regulator could result in jobs, business and profits all leaving Ireland with non-Irish companies.’

Mr Crotty called on the Government to ‘implement the reversal of provisional administration of Quinn Insurance Limited and also for the ban on writing insurance in the UK to be lifted immediately.’

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