Types of insurance
Insurance is a way of protecting yourself from costs due to 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 information that explains 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 money.
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 properly insured. In general, your insurance should cover contents as well as the structure of your home. However, you can get insurance for the contents of your home separately from insurance for the building, for example, if you are renting and do not own your home. The CCPC has detailed information on home insurance.
Mortgage protection insurance
When taking out a mortgage, you need to think about how it will be paid off if you die. You will generally be required to take out mortgage protection insurance. You should also think about 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 several 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.
A life insurance policy can provide money for dependants if you die. The
CCPC has detailed information
about life insurance.
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. You can read more about the rules around how firms must handle complaints in the Central Bank of Ireland's consumer guide to the Code (pdf).
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 and Pensions 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 and Pensions Ombudsman.