Irish direct insurer denies breaching EL selling law

Irish insurer Quinn-direct has hit back against allegations reported last week in Insurance Times that the employers' liability (EL) policies it is selling in the UK do not comply with the Empl-oyers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.

But the insurer said it would change the wording of the standard EL policy it sold in Northern Ireland (NI), which contained several exclusions, in order to bring it into line with the policy it was selling in England.

Quinn-direct's commercial financial controller John O' Driscoll said that the company had not been contacted by either the UK government or regulatory authorities regarding its policies.

"We are in compliance with all relevant regulation and legislation and any suggestion to the contrary is completely unfounded," he said.

Commercial divisional manager Trevor Shaw added: "If the Department for Work and Pensions has any issues we will certainly attend to any concerns it raises."

In response to claims from UK insurers that the exclusions contained in its UK EL policies breach the Act, Shaw said that the policy it sells in England did not contain any hazardous works exclusions.

O'Driscoll admitted the company excluded asbestos exposure, but said: "I don't think we're unusual in that regard".

However, Shaw said that when Quinn-direct entered the NI EL market several years ago, it did so with the same policy wording it had been using in the Republic of Ireland. As such, its standard NI EL policy included exclusions, which could be "reversed out of by endorsement". This means that, if requested by the client, the exclusions can be reinstated during underwriting.

With regards to allegations that its use of policy excesses also breach the Act that prohibits "any condition which requires an insured employer to pay the relevant employee", Shaw said that in the event of a claim, Quinn-direct would pay the claimant in full and then seek to "claw back" the excess from the policyholder.

"We're familiar with a number of EL insurers in the UK who apply an excess to their policies and interpret the regulations the way we do," he said.

Shaw defended the practice, which he said ensured that policyholders took health and safety requirements seriously.

Shaw said it was revealing that that the allegations were made by its competitors, "rather than regulators, policyholders or our brokers."

One UK broker, which has an agency with Quinn-direct, said: "They're very innovative, it's going down very well. The model is ideal for the market."