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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 25 May, 2019
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Insurance providers warned over lack of transparency with customer flood claims

A Central Bank report said there was weak oversight and controls by some insurance companies.

Flooded apartment
Flooded apartment

THE CENTRAL BANK says it is “concerned” by the findings of an inspection they carried out in to how insurance companies deal with customers and their claims for water and flood damage.

The Central Bank of Ireland today published its findings from a themed inspection into household property claims resulting from water damage. They said they considered such a specialised report appropriate given the increased frequency of floods in recent years.

Claims

The report identified a number of shortcomings by the insurance companies. They stated there was weak oversight and controls over outsourced claims handling or loss adjusters and in isolated incidences there was potentially unfair settlement.

The also found that there was poor transparency in policy documentation and a lack of consumer awareness of the terms and conditions of their policies.

The Central Bank said there was also a lack of transparency around the practice of insurers retaining a portion of the agreed settlement, which was typically 30 per cent, until reinstatement has been completed and final invoices have been submitted (known as retention) and the extent to which consumers are not claiming the portion retained.

They added they were also concerned about the appropriateness of building insurance sold to some apartment owners.

Lack of transparency

Director of Consumer Protection, Bernard Sheridan said:

We are concerned by the findings of this inspection which has identified a lack of controls when using third parties to handle claims, a lack of transparency around the claims retention policy and policy terms that consumers need to be aware of at time of purchase and when making a claim.

We also considered that policy booklets contained a number of terms and conditions which may not be fair or transparent to consumers.

Today the Central Bank is issuing an industry letter to insurers, drawing attention to the inspection’s findings and emphasising their requirement to be in full compliance with the code of conduct when handling claims.

Following the review, they said they were following up directly with the insurers inspected to ensure issues are addressed and further investigations of specific issues is appropriate in some cases, they said.

Review and improve controls

Insurers are being instructed to review and improve controls over third party service providers, to review policy documentation to ensure terms identified are fair and transparent and that material information such as the practice of retention is included.

The Central Banks said that some insurers are already taking corrective action in respect of the transparency of their policy documentation, while they said the practice of retentions is an issue that the Central Bank intends to further engage with the industry on, to ensure the best interests of consumers are protected.

Read: Glanmire GAA clubs’ great competition entry after floods destroy pitches>

Read: Last month’s floods in central Europe caused more than €12.4 billion of damage>

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