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Pearse Doherty TD welcomes progress on insurance reform

11 July, 2019 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has welcomed progress on his Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill which will radically reform insurance contracts in favour of the consumer.

The Bill passed Committee Stage in the Finance Committee today.

Deputy Doherty said:

“I welcome today’s progress in putting into law this radical reform of insurance contracts. This Bill is pro-consumer and pro-transparency, two things sadly lacking in the current insurance environment.

"It is based on a Law Reform Commission Report and accompanying legislation which seeks to modernise insurance contracts law in the State.

"Much of the insurance contract law in the State is based on very old British insurance law which was itself based on the needs of insurance in the 19th Century where the main use of insurance was in naval trade.

"My Bill replaces the one sided nature of contracts by putting a duty on the insurer to ask for all information it considers relevant. The onus is shifted onto the insurer to ask the right questions rather than on the consumers to guess which information they should provide.

"The consumer is of course required to answer honestly and fully.

"In cases where there is a lack of full disclosure the Bill allows for a partial payment to be paid rather than the situation before when the insurer could simply refuse all payment.

"In another important step policy holders will have to be notified of claims made against them.

"The Bill also empowers the consumer by ending the strict ability of an insurer to not pay out simply because of conditions to the contract that have no bearing whatsoever to the insurable event.

"This is best illustrated by an example. Currently as the law stands if your house burns down but your burglar alarm is broke then the insurer can avoid, in theory, paying out because you are deemed to have broken the contract which stipulated conditions about the alarm.

"The Bill would change the law so that such irrelevant things are not grounds for avoiding the paying of compensation. The small print conditions should not be used as an excuse anymore.

"Currently the insurance contract law is outdated and protects insurers. It is not fit for the modern world we live in.

"This Sinn Féin Bill is about levelling the playing field and closing down the loopholes insurers can squirm through. I hope to see the Bill on the statute book as soon as possible.”

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