The Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Directorate (CPD) must ensure that businesses and employers are not gouged by insurance companies in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill has said.
The Dún Laoghaire representative pointed out that businesses across the country are facing the possibility of a significant increase in their insurance premiums which could result in unnecessary closures.
Deputy Carroll MacNeill said, “Small and medium enterprises is a sector which is particularly vulnerable to insurance hikes. Business owners are working exceptionally hard to implement the health and safety measures that are necessary as we reopen our economy and society during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Government has put in place a suite of measures totalling €12 billion to support businesses that are negatively impacted by Covid-19. The measures and supports available range from loans to grants to vouchers to rates waived and deferred tax liabilities.
“They include direct grants and supports such as the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and the €250m Restart Grant Fund, liquidity supports such as 0% finance for 6 months from MicroFinance Ireland, rates waivers from local authorities and the warehousing of tax liabilities of SMEs by Revenue.
“We must ensure that these supports are not there for paying hiked-up insurance bills, but rather so that businesses can develop and reopen in a safe way.
“I am calling on insurers to take stock and think before sending out their next premiums to small businesses. Hiked-up insurance costs will only increase costs for business and consumers.
“It could also force the closure of otherwise viable small businesses providing competition in the market or increase the strength of big market players at the expense of diversity and competition in the market, which is so important for cost competitiveness.
“Now is not the time for gouging, now is the time to be a community player in a business market. Because of my concern, I have drawn this issue to the attention of the Consumer Protection Directorate in the Central Bank.”