The provision and pricing of insurance products are underpinned by the EU Solvency II Directive insurance framework. Consequently, neither the Minister for Finance nor the Central Bank of Ireland can direct insurance companies as to their business activities, nor can they compel any insurer operating in the Irish market to provide refunds to its customers as this is a commercial matter.
However, working to protect insurance policyholders during and after the Covid-19 crisis remains a priority issue for the Government. As such, it is included in the Action Plan for Insurance Reform. Throughout the pandemic, the Government has consistently called on insurers to treat customers honestly, fairly and professionally, as well as in line with the Central Bank’s consumer protection code.
Both the Minister and I have had extensive engagement with insurers and other key policy stakeholders. In the Minister's meeting with industry representatives, Insurance Ireland, almost a year ago, he called on motor insurers to be proactive and generous towards their customers. He noted what was likely to be a significant reduction in claims due to the travel restrictions then in place. This intervention saw several insurers announcing a range of forbearance measures and motor insurance rebates for policyholders. A variety of methods for offering rebates were used such as cheques being sent out, electronic transfers and vouchers.
As part of a comprehensive stakeholder engagement on the insurance reform agenda, I held a series of subsequent meetings with the main insurers late last year. I met with the chief executives of each of the main insurance companies individually when I again raised the need for industry to respond to both the Government’s ongoing reform agenda, as well as the needs of customers during this pandemic through lowering premiums, continuing to offer forbearance measures, and expanding their risk horizon across various market segments.
Building on this engagement to date, I will be meeting with the insurers individually from next week to discuss their assessment of the new personal injuries guidelines. The industry’s ongoing response to the pandemic will be included on the agenda for these meetings. Both the Minister and I will continue to put our views across on these issues, engaging with insurers and other relevant stakeholders regarding the importance of supporting customers and providing the necessary reliefs throughout this crisis period.