In Oireachtas Finance Committee, I questioned Minister of State Michael D’Arcy on the progress made over the last two years into the report on rising insurance costs and the practices of insurance companies that was agreed by the Committee. The report made over 72 recommendations.
In terms of implementing these recommendations, the insurance industry has dragged its feet, been too slow in acting, or has flatly refused to cooperate at all. The issue of insurers informing policy holders of a claim against them is contained in recommendation 8. The Minister wrote to the insurance industry asking them to accept this over a year ago. Nothing has happened since.
Meanwhile, we see more and more obstacles put in front of claimants and awards being cut. It seems that the only ones to benefit from the renewed focus on insurance costs are the insurance companies themselves.
Another recommendation was that more precise information be supplied to returning emigrants seeking insurance. Once again the insurance companies had to be chased and hounded to provide accurate information on their websites. Minister D’Arcy also told me that the issue of returning emigrants facing difficulties obtaining policies is no longer a problem. I told him that I am still hearing many stories from people who have returned to Ireland and are experiencing delays and are faced with sky high premiums.
Additionally, many people who have been hammered by high insurance premiums in recent years will find it hard to stomach that insurance companies have refused his request that they inform policy holders when a claim has been made against them.
There needs to be more action from Government to face down the insurance industry. They are doing the bare minimum and are looking to do less and less. If legislation is needed, it should be introduced and done without delay. Good intentions and half-reached goals will not see people’s premiums reducing.