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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 29 March, 2020

Insurance firm fined €3.3million over regulatory breaches

Agents working for Combined Insurance wrongfully obtained customers’ bank details, and sold them policies they could not claim under.

Image: nerdcoregirl via Flickr

AN INSURANCE COMPANY has been fined a record €3.35million by the Central Bank after a series of “serious” regulatory breaches.

Combined Insurance Company of Europe Ltd was also ordered to pay more than €2million back to customers, relating to almost 8,000 policies.

The fine is the largest ever handed out by the Central Bank, which said it had identified 28 breaches of regulatory requirements over the last five years.

These included agents tied to the firm wrongly obtaining customers’ bank details and using them to set up policies in other people’s names, and collecting premiums from customers but not setting up policies.

Some customers were told that they were eligible for cover, when in fact the agent knew they had a medical condition which would make them ineligible.

The Central Bank said the problems arose because Combined Insurance used a system of “tied agents” paid on a commission-only basis, which created a “high pressure sales environment” and encouraged people to act unprofessionally.

Peter Oakes, the bank’s director of enforcement, said: “This is the largest fine issued by the Central Bank and reflects the seriousness with which we view fundamental regulatory failures.

“The level of consumer detriment in this case arising from the firm’s non-compliance and behaviour, will not be tolerated by the Central Bank.”

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Michael Freeman

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