Many car insurance difficulties experienced by returning emigrants relates to an absence of documentation on the part of people returning, according to the Irish motor insurance industry.
The industry was responding to the suggestion it should remove what are described as “any unjustified motor insurance penalties for returning emigrants”.
The recommendation is contained in a report by Indecon, the economic consultants, on the challenges facing returning emigrants that was prepared for the Department of Foreign Affairs.
A number of such people have complained in recent times that they are presented with exorbitant car insurance premium quotes by insurance companies even though, in many cases, the would-be insured are experienced drivers of middle years.
The report also recommended that EDT (essential driver training) courses should be waived for drivers who previously held an Irish driving licence or have an overseas licence and that the bilateral driver licence exchange programme be expanded to include more countries.
Indecon suggested further that the government highlight insurance companies that facilitate returning migrants.
In response yesterday, Insurance Ireland, the representative body for the industry, said the protocol, agreed with the department of finance late last year, sought to address the problems. Many difficulties related to an absence of documentation on the part of people returning, according to the industry.
A statement said that the aim of the protocol was “to ensure a greater consistency of treatment for returning emigrants”.
To this end, “The protocol covers how insurers consider driver experience from abroad when a person has previous driving experience in Ireland, and is coming from a country that drives on the other side of road. . .
“A key element of the protocol is the requirement that all documentation shows the relevant driving experience in the person’s own name and the documentation must be verifiable by the insurance company in Ireland. This should ideally include dates, the type of insurance and certification of claims free driving.
“In addition, a person may also be asked to prove they have had no traffic prosecutions or disqualifications. It should be noted that in some jurisdictions, the basic level of compulsory insurance required is linked to the vehicle, not the driver.”
The industry says that since coming into play, the number of refused applications for insurance by people returning has dropped by about half and a further decline is expected this year.
Michael Bannon of Aviva Insurance said his company "takes into account driving experience abroad earned in the name of the person seeking cover. We also accept no claims discount letters as proof of that driving experience".
In order to benefit from a no claims record earned abroad, however, the person seeking insurance cover here had to produce “verifiable documentation - that is a No Claims Bonus Statement and/or a letter of driving experience in respect of the relevant country”.
Mr Bannon suggested that before leaving a country of temporary residence to return to Ireland where driving insurance would be sought, a person should obtain documents that must “have been issued by your insurer (not a broker or reinsurer); be on official company headed paper; be issued in your name, as the policyholder; be in English (this is a requirement and will not be acceptable for use if not available); show the number of claims-free years driving allowed to the policyholder; show details of any claims (date of accidents, amounts paid and claims status ie outstanding/settled); [and] show when the policy was cancelled/expired and the expiry date”.
“The reason for these detailed validation and verification requirements,” he said, “is that there is a significant issue with fraudulent No Claims Bonus letters, particularly from abroad and it is important that we have the time to validate the No Claims Bonus with the previous insurer before cover is incepted”.