CONSUMER INSURANCE CONTRACTS ACT 2019
This act while only applying to consumers seeks to balance the rights of consumers against the much more experienced and savvy insurance companies. This form of legislation has already been implemented in the United Kingdom and no doubt when the act comes to be testes Irish solicitors will seek to rely in English case law.
Previously the law required that anyone seeking insurance to disclose such information that any reasonable insurer would require to underwrite the risk in question, this was the source of much litigation as this obligation was open ended and subjective. Under the new act insurers must now seek the information they need by asking direct questions in simple English of the applicant and in this way there will be less confusion and less reason to litigate. It used to be the case that if an applicant failed to provide the insurer with ALL the relevant information then insurers could escape indemnity even for the smallest oversight. This was patently unfair and the act addresses this unfairness.
In short if the applicant/insured fraudulently misrepresents the position then the insurance company can void the contract and walk away. If the misrepresentation was innocent then insurers must pay up and finally if the misrepresentation was negligent then before insurers can walk away they must show that they would not have taken on the risk had they been appraised of all the circumstances.
MAKING A CLIAM
Customers are now obliged to engage positively with claim investigators. Insurers in turn must update the customer in relation to the claim and deal with the claim within a reasonable time. If as a consumer you knowingly submit a claim that you know to be false then insurers may refuse to pay out on the claim. Furthermore, the act allows third parties to make claims directly against an insurer where the insured, a builder for example, has not responded or is in liquidation and before the introduction of the act the insurer could have walked away from an otherwise insured risk simply because the insured didn’t report the claim or perhaps had moved abroad.
If you are an insurer or self insured then we can assist you with redrafting your claims paperwork and claims handling process. Alternatively if you have a good cause of action and believe that there is insurance in place we can help you engage with insurers directly.