Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Questions (94)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

94. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance the options available to persons (details supplied) in County Kerry who are unable to secure mortgage protection to purchase a house due to a 1,000% loading being applied by insurance providers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50501/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. Neither I nor the Central Bank of Ireland can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products, as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. Consequently, I am not in a position to direct insurance companies as to the pricing level that they should apply to particular categories of individuals, nor am I in a position to direct them to provide cover to such individuals.

It is my understanding that insurers use a combination of rating factors in making their individual decisions on whether to offer mortgage protection cover and what terms to apply. These factors can include age, health, family medical history, occupation and lifestyle. In addition, these may be determined or linked to the length of time such a policy may last. In the case of mortgage protection policy, such policies tend to be over a much longer term, for example, 25 years or over the lifetime of the mortgage repayment schedule. Furthermore, my understanding is that insurers do not all use the same combination of rating factors, and as a result prices and availability of cover varies across the market, and that they will price in accordance with their own past claims experience.

While I have sympathy for the situation detailed, I am unable to comment on specific cases. However, it should be noted that my officials contacted Insurance Ireland in regard to a similar case in the past. Insurance Ireland advised that applicants for any type of life assurance will be asked on the application form detailed health questions and that insurers may request one or more of the following in addition: a report from the applicant’s GP; an independent medical examination; or other medical tests. On the basis of the information provided, the application is considered individually and the decision on whether to offer cover and on what terms depends on the facts of that particular case.

Finally, I would note that Insurance Ireland operates a free Insurance Information Service for those who have queries, complaints or difficulties in relation to obtaining insurance. Insurance Ireland can be contacted at feedback@insuranceireland.eu or 01-6761914.