I propose to take Questions Nos. 208 and 223 together.
At the outset, working to protect insurance policyholders during and after the COVID-19 crisis is a priority issue for Government. As such, it is included within the Programme for Government and the recently launched Action Plan for Insurance Reform. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have consistently called on insurers to treat their customers honestly, fairly and professionally.
I can assure the Deputies that both Minister of State Fleming and I have had extensive engagement with motor insurers and other key policy stakeholders throughout 2020 and that this will continue into 2021. At my meeting with Insurance Ireland in April 2020, I called on insurers to be pro-active and generous in relation to their treatment of motor insurance customers during the COVID-19 crisis. In particular, I noted what was likely to be a significant reduction in claims for this period due to the travel restrictions that were in place at that time. This ultimately resulted in a number of insurers announcing a range of forbearance measures and motor insurance rebates for policyholders. In addition, insurers have agreed to further review the situation if extended Covid-19 restrictions on movement result in sustained lower road usage and claims frequency this year.
Most recently as part of a comprehensive engagement on the Government’s insurance reform agenda with a wide range of stakeholder interests, including Insurance Ireland, Minister of State Fleming concluded a series of meetings with the main Irish insurers. He again raised the need for industry to respond to both the Government’s ongoing reforms and COVID-19 pandemic by lowering premiums, to continue to offer forbearance measures, and to expand their risk horizon (such as providing more cover for younger drivers).
While Insurance Ireland recently announced a continuance of forbearance measures on behalf of a number of its members, including a number of measures directly targeting motor insurance policyholders, both I and Minister of State Fleming will continue to raise this issue with insurers in the coming weeks, particularly in light of the stricter restrictions on movement currently in place as a result of Government measures to combat the pandemic.
Finally, the Deputy has asked about rebates for those that have been cocooning, due to their cars being off the road. The methodology of any premium relief process is a matter outside of my control and it is important to note that each insurance company will make their own decisions as to the level and manner of financial supports, including whether to issue refunds and/or discounts based on their own particular circumstances.