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Alliance frustrated at Government delays on insurance reform

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown-up multiple issues in regard to insurance and particularly the State’s response on Business Interruption claims, described as “invisible” by the Chair of the Alliance for Insurance Reform and owner of Cork’s Vienna Woods Hotel Michael Magner.

 

“Following standard operating procedures is not enough in this crisis.” – Michael Magner.

“Following standard operating procedures is not enough in this crisis.” – Michael Magner.

The Alliance wrote to the Governor of the Central Bank back on the 23rd March urging him to take action that would “quickly turn a blanket ban (by insurers on covering any Covid-19-related BI claims) into a sensible resolution of the problem”.

However Michael Magner pointed out that, “To date, all we’ve seen from the Central Bank is a number of public pronouncements but no solid action.

“Equally, our June 8th request to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman that he ‘put in place an emergency fast-track process leading to a legally-binding decision for the Business Interruption-related complaints your office has already received in order to provide some guidance to the many businesses faced with BI refusals’ has gone unanswered.

“Small businesses and community enterprises waiting for clarification on their business interruption claims cannot wait for months or even years for a clear decision,” he continued, “Following standard operating procedures is not enough in this crisis. We urge the Central Bank Governor and the Ombudsman to move swiftly to get clarity on who is covered by BI insurance and to what extent.”

 

“Intense frustration” at insurance delays

The AIR group was expressing its “intense frustration” at ongoing delays in action on insurance as horseman Sean Kilkenny made his insurance protest trek from County Clare to Leinster House with his coach and horses recently.

Alliance Director Linda Murray, owner of Huckleberry’s Den play centre in Navan, added, “We completely sympathise with Sean on the loss of his livelihood and echo his call for ‘complete reform of insurance in Ireland’.

“SMEs, community and voluntary groups are dealing with the results of that lack of reform every day, through unsustainable insurance costs and fear for the future of their organisation as the insurance crisis hampers their recovery from the pandemic.”

And Alliance Director Peter Boland said, “If the Government is expecting the economy to recover through SMEs and for society to recover through community and voluntary groups, insurance reform needs to be resolved this year. While the pandemic has made matters even worse for policyholders, the fundamentals that must be addressed have not changed.

“Unfair general damages must be cut to reflect international norms and ensure that legitimate minor injuries attract modest damages. The Alliance expects general damages for minor injuries to be dramatically reduced along the lines of the Fair Book of Quantum published by ISME.

“A fully-resourced, dedicated Garda Insurance Fraud Unit must be established.

 “And Government must insist on insurers committing to a schedule of reductions on delivery of the key reforms being progressed.

“Finally, we call again on Government to reinstate the Cabinet subcommittee on insurance reform dropped at the last minute from the final Programme for Government document. With all relevant Ministers and civil servants to be actively involved, this committee is essential to co-ordinate action and ensure the necessary reforms are put in place urgently.”

 

 

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