Donegal Deputy Pearse Doherty’s Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill has been passed through all stages of the Seanad this evening.
The legislation, which has now passed both houses, would reform insurance contracts, increasing transparency and tilting the balance in favour of the consumer.
Deputy Doherty has welcomed the progress made today, which is said to pave the way for the bill to be enacted into law by the end of 2019.
He said: “I want to thank Minister D’Arcy for his cooperation in facilitating the passage of this Bill. We are now on track for it to be signed into law by Christmas.
“Sinn Féin are in the business of protecting people, not the profits of the insurance industry. This legislation is a big win for consumers as Sinn Féin continue to stand up for workers and families.”
Explaining the details of 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 too little has been done to hold the industry to account and reduce costs.
“Our Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill will shift the balance in favour of policyholders, 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 as a game-changer by the Alliance for Insurance Reform.
“This legislation would require companies to inform consumers of the past 5 years of premiums paid by customers, and claims paid to customers and third parties for all non-life insurance contracts.
“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.”