Setanta Insurance back in the spotlight

Fianna Fáil pushing to reform the Irish motor insurance sector...

The Dáil debates a motion this afternoon that aims to deal with the 1,660 insurance claims that have been in limbo since the collapse of Setanta Insurance in 2014.

The Fianna Fáil motion also calls on the Central Bank to conduct an awareness campaign to better inform consumers about the regulation of foreign-registered firms.

The party has said at least 23 motor insurance companies are operating here whilst being regulated elsewhere in Europe – Setanta, which insured 75,000 Irish motorists, had been regulated in Malta.

The Government is set to abstain from a vote on the motion tomorrow, meaning that it is likely to pass.

Fianna Fáil's finance spokesman Michael McGrath has said that action is needed:

"There has to be an agreed motor insurance compensation framework to deal with any further instance of a motor insurance collapse.

"Consumers need to be far more aware of the regulatory status of the insurance company that they're buying from, and the Central Bank and the Government need to raise these issue at a European level."

According to The Irish Times, McGrath has received representations from former Setanta policyholders who have claims that date back to 2012, two years before its collapse, that still require attention.

He has asked the Government to take legal action against not only Maltese authorities over Setanta, but also Gibraltar over the collapse of Enterprise Insurance last year. That affected roughly 14,000 Irish customers, who had claims of over €6 million still outstanding.

Gary McClarty, MD of MCL Insurance, said of the calls for greater EU regulation:

"MCL Insurance welcomes any change that further protects the consumer from potential harm. It’s vital that measures are put in place to guarantee the consumer peace of mind and protection.

"We’re proud to be an Irish company offering a quality service to the consumer and we feel passionately that Irish drivers should have trust in their insurance provider. Our brands, and will continue to bring affordable insurance to Irish drivers throughout 2017."

After reporting that the insurance market had "stabilised somewhat" earlier this week, FBD chief executive Fiona Muldoon called on the Government working group appointed to tackle rising premiums to remove the excess contained within its report and "focus on the things where there will be the biggest payback".

Last month's report contained 33 recommendations and 71 associated actions. Muldoon argued that, while  there was "an awful lot of good sense" contained within it, "you can't do 71 things well at the same time".