Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Finance
At the outset, I would like to express my sympathy for those whose wedding plans have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Deputy should note that neither I, nor the Central Bank of Ireland, can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products, or their contractual terms, as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or contractual terms and conditions of insurance products.
Whether an individual can make a claim in relation to the cancellation of their wedding due to COVID-19 will depend on the specifics of the individual policy. Whilst I strongly believe that insurers should treat their customers honestly, fairly and professionally and honour those elements of the policies covered, including wedding insurance claims, in line with the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code, it is important to note that neither the Government nor the Central Bank have any role in adjudicating on such matters.
Where a dispute occurs in relation to the interpretation of an insurance policy and the policyholder is dissatisfied with the service received by their insurer, including in relation to the situation mentioned in this question, then the appropriate channels for resolving the dispute must continue to be followed i.e. use of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO). The Deputy will be aware that the FSPO is a statutory official who acts as an independent arbiter of disputes which consumers may have with their insurance company or other financial service provider. The FSPO can be contacted either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org by telephone at 01-567-7000. I note that, in this instance, the individual referred to in the Deputy’s question intends to lodge a complaint with the FSPO and I believe this is the best way of resolving this matter.