OPINION

Insurance firms under scrutiny

The findings of a government audit of the 49 car insurance companies that currently operate in the country prompted a fierce reaction by Deputy Minister for Development Yiannis Papathanassiou. «The days of impunity and lawlessness are over,» the conservative minister said after the inspection found that the companies’ own capital is less than the minimum required to ensure their solvency by 133 million euros. «The previous government may have been very lenient but the new government displays zero tolerance toward the non-implementation of the law,» Papathanassiou said. The New Democracy minister ordered illicit companies to reach the requisite threshold by February 18, as the government is to announce the names of the firms which will receive a solvency certificate on February 21. The rest will have to shut down if they fail to come up with the necessary capital by June 30 and will have to enter a closely monitored restructuring program. It’s time the government put in order a sector that has become an oppressor rather than a friend to the millions of insured across the country. In recent years, insurance fees have increased by an average of 10 percent, a figure that amounts to three or four times the country’s inflation rate. The state imposes tough penalties on the owners of uninsured vehicles but hundreds of drivers are faced with an incredible ordeal in order to make their insurance firms fulfill their legal obligations toward them. The government must put an end to this unacceptable situation. The car insurance sector is in need of urgent reform. It is unacceptable that some insurance companies pay huge amounts of money to middlemen and lower their prices to increase their share of the market but then are unable to meet their obligations, taking tens of thousands of cases to court in a bid to defer payments. How long will the millions of insured have to suffer the consequences of the unacceptable business practices of certain companies which systematically break the law and resort to profiteering tricks to the cost of car owners. People expect the government to live up to its pre-election pledges, getting to the root of the problems.