Insurers pledge to reduce premiums but will not budge on disruption cover

Industry body promises forbearance measures for customers affected by Covid-19 crisis

Insurers have promised to reduce premiums for business customers to reflect the reduced level of exposure during the Covid-19 crisis.

Insurers have promised to reduce premiums for business customers to reflect the reduced level of exposure during the Covid-19 crisis.

 

Insurers have promised to reduce premiums for business customers to reflect the reduced level of exposure during the Covid-19 crisis.

For the first time, the industry body also said that its members would accept that Government advice to close a business “in the context of Covid-19” is the same as a direction to shut down “in this instance and will be recognised as such”.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe last month called on insurers not to reject businesses’ claims for loss of earnings if they were advised by the Government to shut up shop to contain the spread of Covid-19, amid evidence the industry was relying on fine print and technicalities to avoid payouts.

In a letter to the Minister on Friday, Insurance Ireland also outlined a range of measures for personal customers.

These include the extension of cover under standard household policies to cover home-working, where this as not already provided for.

Insurers will also permit volunteer driving associated with Covid-19 on private car policies, generally covered only for social, domestic and pleasure use.

Companies will also accept a four-month extension to renewal dates for NCT tests and new driving licences which are being disrupted by the Covid-19 measures put in place by Government.

The insurance body also pledged a renewal grace period of 28 days, no cancellation fees or missed direct-debit fees. And it promised its members would deal fairly and flexibly with customers in financial distress.

Pandemic

On business disruption insurance, however, the industry group said most standard business interruption policies in the Irish market did not support a claim for a pandemic such as Covid-19. “This is also the position in the UK and across Europe, ” it said, while insisting insurers were mindful of their commitments to the customer and would adjudicate each claim “fairly and consistently”.

The industry group said its members would reduce employers’ and public liability premiums for businesses to reflect reduced level of exposure. The extent of the discount would vary depending on the product, the type of policy and the type of cover, a spokeswoman said.

The group also said insurers would allow up to 28 days after renewal of business policies for payment while cover will be maintained for unoccupied commercial buildings/premises not in use due to the restrictions for a maximum of 90 days provided there is appropriate supervision and security.

“Our members recognise that some customers, personal and business, are experiencing extreme economic impacts as a result of the necessary cessation of some business activity, and we are committed to supporting these customers through this difficult time,” Gerry Hassett, interim chief executive of Insurance Ireland, said.

“As a sector we are committed to listening to and working with Government as part of the collective response to dealing with this unprecedented crisis.”

He said insurers had agreed “important pledges” on home, motor and business insurance to help and support customers.