At the outset it is important to note that neither I, as Minister for Finance, nor the Central Bank of Ireland can intervene in the provision or pricing of insurance products, as this is a commercial matter. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance (the Solvency II Directive) which expressly prohibits Member States from doing so. Consequently, I am not in a position to direct insurance companies as to how they price their policies or what terms and conditions they apply in those policies.
Notwithstanding this, I note the situation as outlined, as it appears to relate to the forbearance measures that a number of Insurance Ireland members agreed to earlier this year. To be of assistance to the Deputy, my officials contacted Insurance Ireland, in relation to the issue. It advised that this particular set of circumstances is not one that it has previously encountered. In addition, Insurance Ireland would like to assist the policyholder to resolve this situation, and suggested that the individual impacted should contact it’s Insurance Information Service, with a view to achieving a speedy and satisfactory outcome. This service can be accessed at: email@example.com.
As the Deputy will know, I strongly believe that the insurance sector must play an important role in assisting their customers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, and this is also recognised in the Programme for Government. My officials and I have engaged with the insurance industry extensively in relation to the provision of motor insurance reliefs to motorists in general and specific forbearance measures to professional drivers, such as taxi drivers, who were not able to conduct their business through COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year. While I am satisfied that it appears that the issue as outlined may be an isolated incident, it is an issue that my officials will monitor in case this is part of a wider industry practice.
Finally, I would note that generally if a consumer has a service complaint regarding their insurance provider, it is advisable that they 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). The FSPO is a statutory official who acts as an independent arbiter of disputes which consumers may have with their insurance company or other financial service provider. The FSPO can be contacted either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 01-5677000.