• Measures for business customers include; reduced premiums for business customers to reflect reduced level of exposure as a result of Covid-19 restrictions for EL / PL and Commercial Motor; renewal flexibility; maintenance of existing cover where the premises is closed or unoccupied; support change of use during Covid19 crisis
• Measures for personal customers include flexibility for customers in financial distress; no cancellation fees or missed direct debit fees; extension of cover for home working; extension of cover for volunteer driving; priority for HSE staff
• Insurers agree that the Government advice to close a business in the context of Covid-19 is the same as a direction in this instance
Issued Friday, 10 April, 2020. Insurance Ireland has written to the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohue, outlining a comprehensive range of measures that the sector is taking to assist customers during the current Covid-19 crisis.
The insurance sector fully appreciates that this is an incredibly difficult time for families and businesses as people seek to make the right decisions for their own health and safety and that of their families and employees.
Irish insurers continue to pay out €250 million to customers in claims and benefits every week. Customers can be assured that their insurers will continue to deliver for them during the crisis, paying pensions, settling life, travel, household, property, liability, motor and health insurance claims. This has involved a move towards remote working, significant IT work and making business processes more flexible to better serve customers.
Across the business and personal customer base, Irish General Insurers are introducing a range of forbearance measures for those impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. Insurers have also been working to support the HSE regarding the use of the private health sector, and individual members have been working to provide increased cover for HSE and volunteer workers.
While the solutions will vary by company to reflect the different products in the market, there are a number of common measures that most companies have signed up to including:
• Insurers will reduce premiums for business customers to reflect reduced level of ex-posure as a result of Covid-19 restrictions for EL / PL and Commercial Motor.
• Insurers will allow up to 28 days after renewal for payment.
• Cover will be maintained for unoccupied commercial buildings/ premises not in use due to Covid-19 restriction (max. 90 days). Appropriate supervision and security of the premises is required.
• Insurers will support requests for a change of property use during the crisis for business impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.
• Customers wishing to avail of any of these measures should contact their insurer or broker directly.
• A commitment to deal fairly and flexibly with customers in financial distress.
• Renewal grace period extended to 28 days (following contact with the customer or broker to confirm the extension).
• No cancellation fees or missed direct debit fees.
• Extension of credit facilities with relevant brokers.
• Home working – extension of cover under standard household policies.
• Volunteer driving associated with COVID-19 is covered on private car policies under social, domestic and pleasure use, incl. HSE volunteers.
• Priority for HSE professionals – free breakdown service, courtesy car if required, priority for repairs & claims, free enhanced personal belongings cover. Motor cover while driving a loaned car from an SIMI garage.
• Insurance certs / validating coverage – ensuring a pragmatic approach to validating insurance coverage by An Garda Siochana.
• NCT / Driving licence – insurers will accept 4 months extension.
Insurers understand that the question of Business Interruption insurance is a cause of concern in the marketplace. This is a complex issue, no insurance market in the world provides widespread insurance coverage for pandemics and Ireland is no exception.
Most standard business interruption policies in the Irish market do not support a claim for a pandemic such as Covid-19. This is also the position in the UK and across Europe. However, insurers are very mindful of their commitments to the customer and will adjudicate each claim fairly and consistently in line with the policy terms and conditions.
Both the Minister for Finance and the Central Bank of Ireland have raised two specific issues regarding Business Interruption and insurers are happy to respond positively on both today:
• Whilst most policy wordings are clear in terms of what cover is provided and what cover exclusions are in place, where there is a doubt about the meaning of a term, insurers are committed, where appropriate, to giving the benefit of the doubt to the customer.
• Insurers agree that the Government advice to close a business in the context of Covid-19 is the same as a direction in this instance and will be recognised as such. It is important to note, however, that each policy is different and there may well be other factors which lead to the adjudication of whether a claim is valid or not.
Gerry Hassett, Interim Chief Executive of Insurance Ireland, said “Our members recognise that some customers, personal and business, are experiencing extreme economic impacts as a result of the necessary cessation of some business activity, and we are committed to supporting these customers through this difficult time. Insurance Ireland has set up a special Covid-19 hub on its website to share practical information with customers. Our member companies also have information and advice on their own websites and have been communicating with customers and brokers to provide advice and support throughout this difficult period.”
“Our members are working hard to help customers and are committed to doing the best they can for customers under very difficult and unprecedented circumstances.” said Gerry Hassett, “As a sector we are committed to listening to and working with Government as part of the collective response to dealing with this unprecedented crisis. Insurers have agreed important pledges on home, motor and business insurance to help and support customers. Our commitment will continue for the duration of this difficult period as we work together to overcome the challenge and play our role in enabling the economic recovery.”
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