Certain provisions of the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act, aimed at enhancing consumer protection, are effective from 1 September 2020. Set out below are some specific points arising from the new legislation:
Subject to certain conditions, a consumer may cancel a contract of insurance, by giving notice in writing to the insurer, within 14 days after the date the consumer was informed that the contract is concluded. In the case of general insurance, the insurer cannot impose any financial costs on the consumer other than the cost of the premium for the period of cover.
The consumer is under a duty to pay their premium within a reasonable time, or otherwise in accordance with the terms of the contract of insurance.
A court of competent jurisdiction can reduce the pay-out to the consumer where they are in breach of their duties under the Act, in proportion to the breach involved.
Post-Contract Stage and Claims
If, in respect of the insurance contract the insurer is not obliged to pay the full claim settlement amount until any repair, replacement or reinstatement work has been completed and specified documents for the work have been furnished to the insurer, the claim settlement deferment amount cannot exceed
- 5% of the claim settlement amount where the claim settlement amount is less than €40,000, or
- 10% of the claim settlement amount where the claim settlement amount is more than €40,000.
An insurer may refuse a claim made by a consumer under a contract of insurance where there is a change in the risk insured, including as described in an “alteration of risk” clause, and the circumstances have so changed that it has effectively changed the risk to one which the insurer has not agreed to cover.
Any clause in a contract of insurance that refers to a “material change” will be interpreted as being a change that takes the risk outside what was in the reasonable contemplation of the contracting parties when the contract was concluded.
The consumer must cooperate with the insurer in an investigation of insured events including responding to reasonable requests for information in an honest and reasonably careful manner and must notify the insurer of the occurrence of an insured event in a reasonable time.
The consumer must notify the insurer of a claim within a reasonable time, or otherwise in accordance with the terms of the contract of insurance.
If the consumer becomes aware after a claim is made of information that would either support or prejudice the claim, they are under a duty to disclose it. (The insurer is under the same duty).
If, when making a claim, a consumer provides information that is false or misleading in any material respect (and knows it to be false or misleading or consciously disregards whether it is) the insurer is entitled to refuse to pay and to terminate the contract.
Where an insurer becomes aware that a consumer has made a fraudulent claim, they must notify the consumer on paper or on another durable means advising that they are avoiding the contract of insurance. It will be treated as being terminated from the date of the submission of the fraudulent claim. The insurer may refuse all liability in respect of any claim made after the date of the fraudulent act, and the insurer is under no obligation to return any of the premiums paid under the contract.