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 or terms or conditions that they should apply in respect of particular categories of policyholders.
It is my understanding that insurers use a combination of rating factors in making their individual decisions on whether to offer insurance cover and what terms to apply. My understanding also is that insurance companies do not all use the same combination of rating factors, and as a result prices and availability of cover varies across the market. In addition, insurance companies will price in accordance with their own past claims experience. Notwithstanding the above, my officials contacted Insurance Ireland on foot of the Deputy’s query to understand more about the process. Insurance Ireland advised that generally the key factor that insurers consider in terms of the scenarios outlined in the Deputy’s question is if the home owner is permanently occupying the premises as their main residence. There was no indication from the companies surveyed that cover was not available to home owners who sought to take advantage of the rent-a room scheme.
Finally, 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 email@example.com or 01-6761914.