Buying insurance

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What do I need to know about taking out insurance?

Insurance is a way of protecting you and your family from costs due to damage to your home, vehicle, ill health or other unforeseen events. In some cases you are required by law to have insurance in place e.g. motor insurance. 

At some point in your life, you are likely to need to buy some form of insurance product. For consumers, this could be motor, home, travel, life or health insurance. Businesses and employers may need various commercial, liability or speciality insurance cover.

It is important when you buy insurance to think carefully about what is right for your needs. This applies if you are taking out a new policy, renewing an existing policy or are shopping around for a better deal. You can find out more information about things to consider when buying home and motor insurance on the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s (CCPC) website. The Health Insurance Authority (HIA) has a consumer guide to health insurance.

When you buy or renew your home insurance, make sure to use correct values to ensure you are adequately insured. Being under-insured can leave you at risk of not being fully covered for your losses if you have to make a claim. For advice on how to avoid being under-insured on your home, take a look at our explainer.

Does the Central Bank regulate the cost of insurance policies?

No. The Central Bank has no role in setting or capping the cost of insurance premiums. The price of policies is a commercial decision for each insurance company. We can only intervene on pricing matters where there is a legal basis to do so, and where we have evidence of a firm engaging in unfair, hidden or discriminatory practices. For example, we banned price walking in home and motor insurance. This ended the “loyalty penalty” for consumers who paid more for their insurance because they did not switch provider.

Using a broker vs buying direct

Insurance products are sold by a range of regulated firms. You can buy insurance directly from an insurance provider or through a retail intermediary (broker). Always make sure the firm you are dealing with is regulated by the Central Bank by checking our registers. Be aware of ghost brokers which are professional fraudsters selling forged or invalid discounted insurance policies to unsuspecting consumers. If a firm is not authorised to provide that service, do not use it.

Some insurers also sell long term savings, investment and pension products. To find out more about this, read our Investing your Money sectionThe Pensions Authority has more specific information on pensions.

How do I make an insurance claim?

The CCPC has step-by-step information on how to make an insurance claim depending on what type of policy you have. The Consumer Protection Code also has specific requirements on how insurance claims must be processed by insurance firms.  

Making a complaint

You have a right to complain to your insurance provider if you are not happy with your experience. Your complaint must be dealt with in line with the requirements set out in the Consumer Protection Code. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your provider’s complaints process, you can bring a complaint to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO)

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