This afternoon’s meeting will tackle ‘urgent matters such as business interruption cover’ says Irish government officials

Paschal Donohoe, the Irish government’s minister for finance, will host a virtual meeting with membership organisation Insurance Ireland this afternoon in order to tackle concerns that the insurance industry is relying on fine print and technicalities to avoid paying out on business interruption (BI) claims during the Covid-19 lockdown, as reported by The Irish Times.

In addition, financial services regulator The Central Bank of Ireland has ordered its regulated insurers to submit detailed breakdowns of their business interruption policies by the end of April, including data on contracts with ambiguous language and how these are being addressed.

The bank said in a letter to insurance chief executives last month that while most policy wordings are clear in terms of the coverage provided and what exclusions are in place, “where there is a doubt about the meaning of a term, the interpretation most favourable to their customer should prevail”.

Standard BI policies do not include cover for infectious diseases – this is typically purchased as a policy extension. The Irish Times reported that many insurers are rejecting claims that mention notifiable diseases on the basis that they were meant to cover isolated outbreaks and not a pandemic.

Last week, the Irish insurance sector announced a series of measures, including plans to reduce premiums for business customers to reflect lower motor, public and employer liability exposure as a result of Covid-19 restrictions – at this time, Donohoe added that he would be following up with Insurance Ireland this week on “urgent matters such as business interruption cover”.

A Department of Finance spokesperson said: “The minister sees insurers as a fundamental part of the economy and believes that they have a major role to play in ensuring that the economy can continue functioning in these very difficult times.”