Ministers Donohoe and D’Arcy welcome common measures across most insurers for business customers in response to COVID-19

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Read the official press release from the Department of Finance about Paschal Donohoe’s request for a more customer focussed approach from insurers. Check below: 

On 27 March, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe wrote to Insurance Ireland, and amongst other things, requested that Insurance Ireland’s members ensure that they take a more customer focussed approach when dealing with businesses and consumers and that they are pro-active in setting out clearly what measures they are taking to provide certainty for consumers at this extraordinary time.

Whilst acknowledging that individual insurance companies have implemented different measures in their response to COVID-19, the Minister is of the view that there has not been a sufficiently consistent approach from insurers. The Minister believes that there is a need for flexibility and pragmatism from insurers in relation to the payment of premiums, renewal of policies, and use of premises due to the significant reduction if not complete cessation of income for many businesses which in turn has much reduced the risk exposure of insurers.

Consequently, he directed officials from the Department of Finance to engage with Insurance Ireland on how best the insurance industry can support their business customers in the current challenging economic climate.

The outcome of this engagement is an agreement from most of the key insurers in the Irish market – namely Allianz, AIG, AXA, FBD, RSA, Liberty Insurance, Travelers Insurance and Zurich – that they will apply the following common measures which will be available to their business customers:

Forbearance

  • insurers will reduce premiums for business customers to reflect reduced level of exposure as a result of COVID-19 restrictions for Employer Liability/ Public Liability and Commercial Motor
  • insurers will allow up to 28 days after renewal for payment

Business Premises

  • insurers will maintain cover for unoccupied commercial buildings/ premises not in use due to COVID-19 restriction (for a maximum of 90 days). Appropriate supervision and security of the premises is required
  • insurers will support requests for a change of property use during the crisis

Note: Customers wishing to avail of this offer should contact their insurers (or brokers) directly.

Minister Donohoe believes that these are extraordinary times, and is of the view that all sectors must play their role in ensuring that we, as a country, get through this and that we do so in a manner that gives us the best chance to bounce back quickly from this crisis. In that regard, he sees insurers as a fundamental part of the economy and believes that insurers have a major role to play in ensuring that the economy can continue functioning in these very difficult times. Therefore, the Minister proposes engaging with Insurance Ireland on the matters outlined above and on other urgent insurance issues such as business interruption cover next week.

Minister Donohoe said:

“I would like to thank Insurance Ireland for facilitating this agreement. In these difficult times, I am pleased that most of the large insurers in this country recognise that they need to have a co-ordinated pro-active response in relation to issues such as forbearance and the handling of unoccupied premises. Whilst in the overall scale of things, this is a small step forward, I also believe it is an important one for policyholders as it will bring much needed clarity and certainty to policyholders. I would encourage the other major insurers in the Irish market to also sign up to this commitment as a matter of urgency. I see no reason why such companies cannot provide a significant element of clarity to their customers about how they will handle what are very important issues for policyholders in these straitened times.”

Junior Minister at the Department of Finance, Michael D’Arcy, said:

“I welcome the positive outcome of the ongoing engagement between the Department of Finance and Insurance Ireland, ensuring a more customer focused approach is taken by key insurers in the Irish market. I would hope that more insurers will follow the lead on this.
“This is an important development, and it is just one sector that has an important role to play during these difficult times. A co-ordinated response will provide certainty for businesses and consumers which is crucial, and something I have been advocating for with Minister Donohoe.”

Press release available here: Ministers Donohoe and D’Arcy welcome common measures across most insurers for business customers in response to COVID-19

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