Central Bank to press insurers on customer rights amid Covid-19 stand-off

Firms with business interruption cover being told they are not eligible for compensation

The Central Bank said it ‘expects that firms will continue to protect their customers and to comply with all regulatory requirements’.

The Central Bank said it ‘expects that firms will continue to protect their customers and to comply with all regulatory requirements’.

 

The Central Bank will write to insurers in the coming days to press them to offer fair settlements to customers who are entitled to payouts on claims related to Covid-19, according to sources.

The regulator is also engaging with peers across Europe and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority as policyholders internationally have learned in recent weeks that losses sustained as a result of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus are not covered, the sources said.

Firms

Irish companies that have business interruption cover are being told they are not eligible for compensation because they were not legally forced to close by the Government or because an employee had not contracted the virus on their premises, according to business bodies.

Small- to medium-sized enterprises with infectious disease cover are being told a pandemic is not included, or Covid-19, which only emerged in humans in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, was not listed as an infectious disease, they have said.

“The Central Bank continues to engage proactively with insurance firms and the industry representatives on contingency and claims related issues in the sector in light of the impact of Covid-19 on consumers, households and businesses,” said a spokeswoman for the bank.

“The Central Bank expects that firms will continue to protect their customers and to comply with all regulatory requirements in light of the significant economic disruption caused by the measures required to tackle the Covid-19 public health emergency. Firms must ensure that all claims are appropriately assessed and where there is insurance cover in place that claims are accepted and paid.”

The spokeswoman declined to comment further. It is understood that the regulator’s consumer protection arm is looking at insurers’ handling of claims relating to travel, health, mortgage protection and business continuity policies.

Offers

It will be pressing firms in the industry to make timely settlement offers on valid claims, representing their best estimate of the claimants’ reasonable entitlements under their policies.

Peter Boland, director of Alliance for Insurance Reform, whose members include pub grouips, play centres and sports organisations, urged policyholders earlier this week to check their coverage contracts very carefully.

He said on Monday that he had looked at a large number of policies over the weekend and that they fell into three categories.

These included: recent policies where coronavirus is clearly included, either by naming it or not naming it; policies that have a grey area that may need clarification from the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman or courts; and, in many cases, policies where coverage is not included.