Allianz and Donogh O’Malley

 

Sir, – We wish to add context and an alternative perspective to Prof Diarmaid Ferriter’s opinion piece “Allianz’s act of monumental hypocrisy” (Opinion & Analysis, May 4th). The overall argument presented by Prof Ferriter is that Allianz is guilty of profiteering from then-minister for education Donogh O’Malley’s decision to introduce free second-level education in 1966 and is engaging in an “act of monumental hypocrisy”.

From an historical context, it is important to understand that since 1902 Allianz has been the leading insurer of schools across Ireland. O’Malley’s courageous 1966 decision resulted in the rapid growth of schools, the recruitment and training of teachers and a corresponding increase in property and casualty-risk exposures. At the time, using our insurance expertise and capacity, we facilitated the achievement of what were very ambitious goals for Ireland’s education sector.

Our response to O’Malley’s vision remains an important period in our company history and we are proud of the part we played.

We believe our involvement as an insurer is an appropriate reference point in our “We Cover Courage” brand advertising featuring the O’Malley announcement.

As we speak to this chapter in our history and reflect honestly on the role we played, we see no evidence of either “profiteering” or “hypocrisy” in our approach.

Prof Ferriter’s opinion that Allianz acts against the “ideals of egalitarianism” displayed by O’Malley’s inclusive decision is simply not true. We provide affordable insurance solutions to as many people as possible in a fair and inclusive manner. As a corporate citizen, we are committed to social inclusion and diversity, evident in our culture, our work practices, our sponsoring and corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Allianz simply would not have survived the last 117 years by doing otherwise.

Prof Ferriter’s reference to the Irish insurance industry was also unduly negative. Yes, there are issues, which insurers, consumers and government want urgently addressed. High premiums are in nobody’s interest but are driven by the cost of claims, running on average 4.4 times EU values. Interestingly, Prof Ferriter failed to reference the €13 billion paid to Irish consumers in 2017 in claims or benefits, the €1.3 billion paid to the Irish exchequer, the employment of 24,000 Irish people, or the significant community benefits derived from services purchased by insurers or their sponsorship and CSR activities.

It is also worth noting that the Irish insurance industry is fully regulated, meaning high levels of accountability, exacting standards of quality delivery and above all customer fairness. While further improvements are possible, we respectfully conclude that Prof Ferriter’s opinion of both Allianz and the Irish insurance industry is at odds with reality. – Yours, etc,

DAMIEN O’NEILL,

Marketing Operations

& Communications,

Allianz plc,

Allianz House,

Elm Park,

Dublin 4.