My Department is currently working on developing legislative changes that would oblige insurance companies to inform policyholders of claims made against them. The objective of the proposal is to ensure that policyholders are informed as soon as possible after a claim against their policy is lodged and informed after a claim is settled. In addition, the proposal will seek to require insurers to engage with the policyholder to ensure that the policyholder’s views can be taken into consideration.
This proposal originates from Recommendation 8 of the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance. A corresponding recommendation was then included in the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance (Rec 10) as this issue is generally far more pertinent to businesses and other liability insurance policyholders rather than individual motorists.
The Department engaged with Insurance Ireland to seek voluntary agreement of this proposal through a protocol. Unfortunately, no such agreement could be reached on a non-legislative basis.
As a result, it is proposed to include this legislative proposal within the Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill 2017, a Private Members’ Bill introduced by Sinn Féin which is based on a 2015 Law Reform Commission Report. The Government provided support in principle for the objectives of this Bill at Second Stage and noted the intention of the Minister for Finance to submit substantive amendments should the Bill reach Committee Stage.
On 27 May 2019 Government approval was given to enable the drafting of committee stage amendments. As part of this approval process the Office of the Attorney General expressed the view that they wish to obtain specialist independent legal advice on this Bill to avoid any unforeseen consequences.
I understand that the Clerk of the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Taoiseach has written to my Department to signal that the Committee has decided to consider the Bill at Committee Stage the week beginning 8th July. The Office of the Attorney General is currently working on the Government's Committee Stage amendments. However as this is a Private Members’ Bill, the timing of the legislative steps are not within the control of the Government.