December 10, 2019
Pearse Doherty TD calls on Seanad to make Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill law

Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has called on all parties in the Seanad to support Sinn Féin’s Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill, which reaches all stages in the Seanad tomorrow. 

This legislation would reform insurance contracts, increasing transparency and tilting the balance in favour of the consumer.

The journalist Charlie Weston described Sinn Féin’s legislation as ‘the most radical change in insurance law in centuries’, while the Alliance for Insurance Reform described it as a ‘game-changer’.

Speaking ahead of the Seanad’s vote on the Bill, Deputy Doherty said:

“Rip-off insurance costs are squeezing incomes and closing down businesses. People are seeing their premiums go up each year without even making a claim. The insurance market isn’t working for policyholders and the Government have done little to hold the industry to account and reduce costs.

“Sinn Féin want to stamp out fraud, ban unfair pricing by insurance companies, recalibrate the value of awards and increase protections for consumers in insurance contracts.

“Our Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill, which reaches all stages in the Seanad on Wednesday, will shift the balance in favour of the consumer by increasing transparency and strengthening the hand of the policyholder during their insurance contract.

“My legislation has been described as the most radical change in consumer law in centuries, and has been described as a game-changer by the Alliance for Insurance Reform. 

“This Bill would require companies to inform consumers of the past five years of premiums paid by customers, and claims paid to customers and third parties for all non-life insurance contracts. This would increase transparency and strengthen everyone’s hands when they look for a better deal each year.

“Any company that cancels a policy would have to pay the customer the outstanding balance of the premium paid and make it easier for the customer to withdraw from a contract.

“It would also require a company to inform customers of any claim made against their policy, allowing them to submit their own evidence and informing them of the cost of any claim against their policy that has been settled.

“After last week’s revelations of some, enabled by the legal industry, engaging in fraudulent claims, this provision is crucial. It would ensure that policyholders would be told of any third party claims made against their policy, fraudulent or otherwise, and have a right to submit evidence concerning the claim.

“The legislation would also make it harder for an insurer to wriggle out of paying valid claims on grounds that have nothing to do with the accident or loss incurred by the policyholder.

“I am urging all parties and Senators to stop talking about insurance and start helping policyholders by voting for this Bill.

“Sinn Féin want to take on the insurance industry and ending the rip-off. By stamping out fraud, protecting consumers, banning dual pricing and bringing down premiums. This legislation is a part of that work.”

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