The Consumer Insurance Contracts Act 2019 was signed into law by the President on the 26th of December 2019.
At the end of January I took the decision that the matter of when to commence the Act should be taken by the next Government. The background to this decision was a series of meetings with the major insurers where significant concerns were expressed about the early implementation of particular sections of the Act (Sections, 8 and 12), and a general view that they needed a number of months to prepare themselves for the implementation of the other provisions.
My decision was made on the premise that the majority of the Act could be made operational from an early date after the new Government was formed. This assumption was made on there being a “business as usual” approach in the broader economy. However, circumstances have changed very dramatically with the economic uncertainty caused by Covid-19. This change of circumstances, in my view, needs to feature in any decision in relation to the commencement of this Act by the new Government.
What I can say however is that in my meetings with insurers, they outlined their need for sufficient time in relation to the implementation of Sections 8 (Pre–contractual duties of consumer and insurer) and Section 12 (Renewal of contract of insurance). You should also note that, Sections 9 (Proportionate remedies for misrepresentation) and 14 (Duties of consumer and insurer at renewal) are sufficiently interrelated with Section 8 that their concerns also apply to these sections.
In summary, my officials have advised me that the sector has have indicated to them that if insurers are not provided with sufficient time to implement the requirements necessary to fulfil the obligations of the above mentioned sections, insurers may be forced to withdraw certain products from the market in order to prioritise others so as to ensure that they are fully compliant with the law. Such a withdrawal is most likely to impact the employer/public liability part of the market. Consequently, because of the broader uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 virus, and the fact that this matter is one for the next Government and Finance Minister, I cannot currently give any indication of a commencement date generally or for the specific sections referred to above.