Alliance calls on State to act now before irreparable damage is done, on back of COVID-19 survey findings
Cabinet Committee now essential to deliver insurance reform
The Alliance for Insurance Reform has today published the results of a major survey which clearly illustrates that the grip the insurance crisis has on Irish society has been magnified by the Covid19 pandemic .
Headlines figures from the research include:
- 63% of business interruption claims have already been refused by insurers
- 55% of policyholders are concerned about COVID19 related personal injury claims
- In 18% of cases insurers have denied forbearance, while a further 12% have given a concession by way of credit on renewal
- Insurance premiums continue to rise despite huge reduction in economic and social activity
Business Interruption & Forbearance
Tellingly, only 33% of respondents have made a business interruption claim. Of these, 63% have already been refused by insurers and an additional 33% await a decision. Only 2% have taken their claim further via the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) or legal action. Insurers have declined any forbearance (liquidity-related concessions such as rebates, pauses or extensions) in 18% of cases while in a further 12%, the concession has been by way of a credit off the next renewal which does not address urgent liquidity issues and prevents shopping around.
Renewals and Premium Rises
22% of those who have renewed their insurance cover since the onset of COVID-19 have seen a rise in their premium. In an environment where there is a substantial reduction in economic and social activity levels for all sectors and as such a massive reduction in risk and turnover, this rise in premiums is a cause for concern for all policyholders.
Commenting on the findings, Michael Magner, Chair of the Alliance’s Covid19 Working Group and owner of Cork’s Vienna Woods Hotel said “these figures merely confirm what we are seeing every day of the week. It is time for the State to take meaningful action before irreparable damage is done to Irish businesses and voluntary organisations struggling to deal with Covid19.
“The Department of Finance must get insurers to play their part. The suggestion that this Covid19 crisis may prove to be a financial Armageddon for insurers is completely undermined by the relatively low level of requests for business interruption payments or forbearance. The Department must now prioritise the ongoing survival of SMEs and voluntary groups which were already threatened by sky-high insurance costs; and are now faced with the refusal of insurers to engage on legitimate business interruption claims and requests for immediate forbearance.
“In order to protect policyholders from Covid19-related personal injury claims, the State must now move to indemnify businesses and voluntary groups against such claims and provide clear, detailed unambiguous guidance, customised by sector, on how to best prevent the spread of Covid19.
“The Central Bank must equally intervene aggressively on behalf of policyholders. General statements are not enough; and the Financial Ombudsman (FSPO) must fast-track complaints already received to give urgent clarity to policyholders on where they stand.
“Finally, insurers must vigorously contest opportunistic or exaggerated claims related to Covid19 in order to avoid a situation where such claims become a cottage industry in their own right.”
Peter Boland, Director of the Alliance said “we cannot afford any further delays to proposed reforms in this area. Our members identified reductions in general damages, a more balanced duty of care, reductions in legal fees and increased sanctions for fraudulent and exaggerated claims as essential reforms in the context of Covid19. It is going to take a cabinet committee, chaired by the incoming Taoiseach, to guarantee that the State delivers on these and other essential insurance reforms quickly, so that insurance does not hamper the recovery of the nation.”
NOTE: The survey was carried out among Alliance for Insurance Reform members between Friday 29th May and Sunday 7th June 2020.
There were 2,095 respondents spread primarily across the Hospitality, Motor & Transport, Leisure, Retail, Not-For-Profit, Healthcare, Arts & Entertainment and Manufacturing sectors.
Insurance in the context of this survey refers primarily to Public Liability, Employer Liability and Business Interruption insurance.
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