At the outset, it is important to note that while as Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation, it is the Central Bank of Ireland that is responsible for the day-to-day supervision of life assurance companies. However, in order to assist the Deputy, my officials contacted the Central Bank of Ireland about this query and the Bank has informed them that there is no requirement on life assurance companies to report data on claims refused due to issues of non-disclosure, and therefore does not receive such notifications. In that regard, no statistics are available.
The Deputy will be aware that the Central Bank of Ireland’s Consumer Protection Code was introduced in 2006 and revised in 2012. It requires firms to act honestly fairly and professionally in the best interest of consumers, and to act with due care and diligence. The Code contains specific requirements in respect of the handing of claims, such as requiring firms to have certain procedures in place for handling claims and requirements around the provision of information to consumers on claims. While the Central Bank of Ireland does not adjudicate on individual consumer complaints, the Code sets out how a regulated entity must engage with a consumer on complaints, which includes complaints around the handing of insurance claims.
In situations where a person is not satisfied with the actions of an insurance provider in terms of the settlement of a claim, it is advisable that person make a complaint to the firm's internal complaint resolution process. The Consumer Protection Code requires that if after 40 days the complaint has not been resolved to the customer’s satisfaction, the regulated entity must inform the consumer that they may refer their complaint to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO). Investigations by the FSPO are free of charge to the complainant.
Finally, I understand that the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman’s website, www.fspo.ie, has a searchable database and it may be helpful to look at previous decisions the Ombudsman has made in relation to this issue.