Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has criticised the insurance industry for ripping off customers, especially loyal customers renewing their cover, and said Sinn Féin are determined to end the scandal.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Customers and businesses across Ireland are being charged rip-off prices by the insurance industry day in, day out. Premiums and quotes are going up and such increases are not based on behaviour or outstanding claims.

“There is no better example of this than the industry’s practice of price discrimination that punishes loyal customers when they renew their annual premium. Loyal customers, who have been with their companies for years, are being quoted sky-high premiums on their renewals. They receive no goodwill for their loyalty. 

“The outrageous thing is that many of these renewal quotations are often a swindle. The practice, of punishing loyal customers when they renew their policy, is called dual pricing. It is a systematic scam costing costumers hundreds of euros every year without their knowledge.

“These companies exploit vulnerable customers who do not know about dual pricing, relying on their loyalty to charge extortionate prices and push up their own profit margins. The attitude of the insurance provider is often, ‘if you don’t like it, you can lump it.’ This arrogance is a result of the lack of alternatives for customers in the market. Consumers have very few options and the insurance companies know it.

“Representatives for the insurance industry have alluded to insurance fraud and claims as the reasons for extortionate premiums. This is simply not true.

“Despite less claims and lower pay-outs, insurance premiums have skyrocketed with the industry registering profits of €227 million in 2017, a 1,300% increase in profits from the year before. 

“The industry claims that 20% of all claims are fraudulent, yet recent information from the Department of Justice shows that only 50 cases of insurance fraud were recorded by An Garda Síochána in the 6 months from November to June of this year.

“In short, the reasons given by the insurance industry for their extortionate premiums are a sham. It’s greed, pure and simple.”

Crowe continued:

“The scale of the insurance industry’s daylight robbery is only matched by the scale of this Government’s failure to tackle rising costs and industry malpractice. 

“Sinn Féin want to do what this government refuses to do and address the rising cost and the fraud that would appear to be rampant.

“One solution to this issue is to introduce legislation that will deliver transparency, accountability, and real regulations. 

“My party colleague, Pearse Doherty TD, wrote to both the Central Bank and Competition and Consumer Protection Commission asking for an investigation into companies discriminating against loyal customers by offering inflated prices whenever their policies are renewed.

“Furthermore, I want to welcome the decision by the Oireachtas Finance Committee to undertake its own investigation into the issue following his request.

“We in Sinn Fein are determined to end this insurance rip-off.”