Insurance is a way of protecting yourself from any costs that may arise from damage to your property or your health. A premium is the amount of money you pay to an insurance company to have an insurance policy to cover you for all or part of these costs. Insurance companies assess the risk on a particular policy and then calculate the premium to be charged. You can pay a premium monthly or annually. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has published a range of guides that explain how different types of insurance work.
Insurance policies are generally renewed once a year. Coming up to renewal date, you should shop around to see if you are getting the best value for your money. The CCPC has also developed a range of insurance cost surveys that help you find the best value insurance.
Different policies have different terms and conditions so make sure you know what the terms and conditions of your policy are. It is important to understand exactly what your insurance policy covers when you buy it.
You are not obliged by law to insure your home but if you have a mortgage, most lenders will insist that your house is appropriately insured. In general, your insurance should cover contents as well as the structure of your home. The CCPC has detailed information on home insurance.
When taking out a mortgage, you need to consider how it will be paid off in the event of your death and you will generally be required to take out mortgage protection insurance. You may also consider how to continue repayments if your income falls, due to illness, unemployment or other reasons. You can find out more about insurance protection on mortgages.
It is a criminal offence for drivers to drive uninsured on public roads in Ireland. You can find out more about motor insurance.
Health insurance is used to pay for private care in hospital or from various health professionals in hospitals or in their practices. There are a number of health insurers in Ireland. You can find out more about health insurance.
Travel insurance can cover you if you become ill or have an accident while you are on holidays or travelling. If you are travelling within the EEA or Switzerland, you should have a European Health Insurance Card which allows you to access health care services. In general, travel insurance should supplement the services available to people with a European Health Insurance Card. You can find out more about travel insurance and other health issues when travelling abroad.
A life insurance policy
provides money for dependants if you die. Life insurance policies are important
if you have dependants (such as your spouse, partner or children).
If you have any problems with an insurer you should first take this up with the customer service department of the insurer (or your broker/agent if you are using one). The Central Bank of Ireland enforces the Consumer Protection Code for financial services providers (including insurers and intermediaries). The code sets out how they deal with their customers.
If you are not satisfied with how a financial services provider is dealing with you, or you believe that they are not following the principles or rules of the Code, you should first complain to the provider. Under the Code, financial services providers must have a complaints procedure in place and must handle your complaint speedily, efficiently and fairly. There are detailed rules in the Code about how often a firm should contact you to keep you updated on your complaint.
If you cannot resolve your problem or if you are not satisfied with how your complaint is being handled, you can take your complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is an independent, statutory body that can investigate your complaint.
Insurance Ireland provides consumer information and a free Insurance Information Service (IIS) for members of the public. The IIS can help you if you want information about insurance, or if you need help in resolving a problem with your insurance company. This service will also investigate complaints that fall outside the scope of the Financial Services Ombudsman.
Insurance Confidential is a confidential hotline and website run by Insurance Ireland. If you suspect insurance fraud you can visit the website insuranceconfidential.ie to find out more about reporting suspected fraud or call lo-call 1890 333 333.
Insurance Information Service
5 Harbourmaster Place
Tel:(01) 676 1914
Fax:(01) 676 1943
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.