3 May 2020
By Elaine Murphy
Cork Senator Tim Lombard has spoken out about the lack of cooperation from Irish Business Insurers, and the need for them to react appropriately to the circumstances by paying out business interruption claims and providing rebates for now redundant liability policies.
Senator Lombard said: “The Covid pandemic has caused havoc for the global economy. Our local businesses will struggle to survive the fallout unless their insurers cooperate and treat their customers fairly.
“Insurance is by definition a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, a protection against possible loss due to a given situation or circumstance. Why pay insurance premiums if you do not receive the service you have purchased.
“I commend the Health and Motor insurance sectors for their appropriate responses. Health insurers are providing various rebates to reflect the agreement made between the HSE and the Private Hospitals’ Association in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, an agreement which has made private health services temporarily redundant. Motor insurers are also providing rebates in recognition of an expected reduction in the volume of claims due to the lack of vehicular use.
“Business insurers are treating their customers unfairly by refusing to pay out on their business interruption policy, claiming that Covid-19 does not fit the criteria. This is ludicrous. Most business interruption policies include cover for circumstances where restrictions or closures are imposed by a public, local, or government authority due to an occurrence of notifiable human disease.”
Senator Lombard continued: “The Covid-19 response applied by our responsible business owners is undeniably an interruption to businesses by Government directive due to an outbreak of infectious human disease.
“In addition, public and employer’s liability insurance are effectively defunct. Due to the elimination, or in some cases reduction, of employee and public activity in workplaces there will be a reduction of claims relating to these policies. This reduction should also be applied to insurance premiums, and businesses should be refunded for the now redundant policies they are paying for.
“The lack of response from the business insurance sector to these unprecedented and challenging times is dishonorable to say the least. Businesses pay for insurance to safeguard against circumstances such as we are experiencing.
“I have written to my colleague, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, requesting that he continue to liaise with the business insurance sector to ensure they honor their policies and refund their customers appropriately.”