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Insurance Coverage

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 24 March 2021

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Questions (673)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

673. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if his attention has been drawn to issues raised in correspondence (details supplied); if he has engaged with insurance providers; the way in which he plans to support affected properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14732/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I am aware of the general issue raised by the Deputy. The Building Regulations 1997 - 2019 set out the legal requirements in Ireland for the construction of new buildings (including houses), extensions to existing buildings as well as for material alterations and certain material changes of use to existing buildings. Their aim is to provide for the safety and welfare of people in and about buildings. The Building Regulations are set out in function terms and are performance based – they do not set limitations on the materials.  The associated Technical Guidance Documents provide technical guidance on how to comply with the regulations in practical terms for non-complex buildings.  Where works are carried out in accordance with the relevant technical guidance, such works are considered to be, prima facie, in compliance with the relevant regulation(s), and the associated Technical Guidance.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire, in June 2017, a Fire Safety Task Force was established in my Department to examine fire safety in Ireland and to make recommendations. 

As part of the work of the Task Force, fire services were asked to identify buildings in their functional areas, in excess of 18m or six storeys in height, fitted with cladding, and to consider if use of the power under section 18(6) of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003, to require the owner to provide a fire safety assessment, was warranted. 

My Department also issued guidance in December, 2017, dealing with fire safety assessment of cladding systems on existing buildings.  The guidance provided detailed information on fire safety assessment of cladding systems, and also provided information on interim fire safety measures, for implementation in buildings, pending completion of remedial works, where required.

The guidance is available at: www.gov.ie/en/collection/36040-national-directorate-fire-and-emergency-management/#fire-safety.

 Finally, responsibility in relation to insurance is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Finance, with the insurance sector being subject to regulation by the Central Bank of Ireland.

However, as I understand it, neither the Minister 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.

Insurance Ireland, which is the representative organisation for the insurance sector in 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 info@insuranceireland.eu or 01-676-1820.

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