Insurer 'red-lining' in Northern Ireland

Irish insurer Quinn is refusing cover to high-claims areas in Northern Ireland, but has said that mainland UK is not affected.

Insurance Times understands that Quinn marks down no-go areas for personal lines insurance according to postcodes, with pockets around Belfast affected.

A Quinn spokesman said: “There are a small number of areas in Northern Ireland where the high level of claims incurred means that it is uneconomical for us to continue to offer insurance without raising prices for all other areas in Northern Ireland.

“Having tried to resolve the problem for some time, we feel we had little choice but to take this option at this time. However, while we remain concerned about some areas, we will look at individuals within them on a case-by-case basis, before deciding whether to quote.”

The firm’s policy, known generally as red-lining, first targeted certain parts of the Republic of Ireland with a ban on motor insurance. The areas affected are thought to be Tallaght and Clondalkin in Dublin, plus other deprived urban areas in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Waterford.

The spokesman added: “We would clearly prefer to see a solution to the level of claims in these areas, and are happy to interact with any relevant interested or representative bodies to obtain one so that we can recommence offering cover to every individual. This position does not in any way breach any equality law, as insurance companies are not obliged to provide quotes."

An FSA spokesman said the regulator “had no bearing the issue” and it was a matter for the individual company. An ABI spokesman said that it was not a matter for the trade body.

The revelations about red-lining come just weeks after Quinn posted a pre-tax loss of €58m in 2008, following a €245m profit in 2007. Operating profits fell 55% to €72m. The insurer took a giant hit on its investments, which plunged from €84m in 2007 to €130m in the red.