Today’s ruling in the High Court in favour of Irish pubs is very welcome. It found that four pubs are entitled to compensation from FBD Insurance for business interruption as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty yesterday wrote to the Governor of the Central Bank and the Minister for Finance requesting that the Central Bank put in place a Business Interruption Insurance Examination to ensure that claims are processed by insurers without businesses being dragged through the courts.
Today’s High Court ruling is a victory – not only for the four pubs that took this case against FBD Insurance – but for struggling businesses throughout the State who hold similar policies with FBD and other insurance companies.
While the FCA in Britain took a court action against eight insurers on behalf of thousands of businesses with different types of policies, the Central Bank has taken no such action.
That must end today.
We cannot allow insurers to continue to drag their heels by refusing valid claims from small businesses that are fighting for their very survival in this pandemic.
Since March last year, Sinn Féin have been calling on the Central Bank to intervene in what risked becoming the tracker mortgage scandal of the insurance industry.
We need the Governor of the Central Bank to put in place a Business Interruption Insurance Examination, similar to the Tracker Mortgage Examination.
This would require an audit of policies held by businesses, clear expectations set out for insurers under each type of policy, intensive engagements and intrusive supervision.
The consequences for insurers that refuse or delay payment of valid claims for business interruption should be severe, with strict enforcement and heavy financial sanctions.
This examination should follow the structure of the Tracker Mortgage Examination, with swift outcomes, strict enforcement and heavy sanctions for insurer malpractice.
It is time for the Central Bank to step up to the plate and defend the interests of policyholders.