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. Thus, the proposal seeks to include within the scope of the changes small businesses which have an annual turnover of €3 million or less.
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 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. This proposal has been developed as a Committee Stage amendment, which Minister of State D’Arcy will propose at the Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach consideration of this Bill on the 11th July.
The reason the legislative changes are not being drafted as a new separate Bill is because I see the Consumer Insurance Contract Bill as an ideal vehicle for addressing insurance consumer related issues, such as this one, from an efficiency and effectiveness perspective. In addition, as all parties have worked very constructively together on important insurance legislation such as the Insurance (Amendment) Act 2018, and the Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018 to date, I see no reason why this constructive engagement cannot continue.